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The Wines

65-70% Marsanne, 30-35% Roussanne, mainly from La Croix, Rocoules, Maison Blanche, oldest Marsanne 1900s, 25-33% egg vat (since 2009) fermented, raised 9 months, 67-75% new, 1-2 year 225-litre oak casks fermented, raised 9 months (until 2003 mix of 10% new, 45% each 1 and 2 year oak used, until 1998 vat-fermented, 1998-2009 then all oak, malo blocked, 11,500-20,000 b, up from 8,000 b

2016 ()

shiny yellow robe; the nose is subdued, but has potential, offers white peach, grapey notes, white plum; it is slightly pared back for a Hermitage blanc, comes with toast-vanilla, buttery elements. The palate starts softly, gives an elegant run of mild white fruits, floral notes, Roussanne (one-third) prominent in its gentle styling. This is savoury, textured Hermitage, should have more plunge of depth for me. There’s a touch of tropical fruit at the end. It may improve, Decanting advised. 14°. €49. 1034-36 Dec 2018

2015 ()

bright, pale yellow robe. Honey features in a dainty nose, along with lemon, white plum, flowers. It is up in the sky, apart from other white Hermitages. The palate gives neat content, glides quietly with precise acidity, late freshness. It tapers a little in content. This is pale Hermitage blanc for international drinkers, doesn’t grab me. 13.5°. Try from 2018. 2032-34 Nov 2016

2014

magnum: yellow colour, an even depth. The nose comes forward well, gives a sunny, ample hazelnut-apricot aroma with Marsanne in the lead, and a quince-plum centre. It is true, has nuances of aniseed, toasting, dried fruits. The palate is marked by expressive white fruits, greengage plum, white plums with keen acidity and assured length – it goes long, well. This is stylish, with local attributes. It ends with quiet grip, and a bundle of freshness. The balance is good. Roussanne declares its finesse towards the finish – there are aromatic white fruits, en finesse there. 13.5°. 2033-35 Nov 2016

2010

jereboam: fine, pale yellow robe. The nose is reserved, closed, has a lemon air, with a sense of quiet inner strength, tight white plum airs helped out by aniseed-licorice and citrus-mandarin greater freedom. The palate delivers freshness, acidity on the immediate. The texture is suave, the gras fine. It is just a bit on the stretch, spare. It can live because it is balanced, but needs to emerge and flesh out. It has a different construction to the traditional glycerol-based white Hermitages. There are floral hints from the Roussanne on the aftertaste. I find it Roussanne influenced and led overall. It will live well. 13.5°. 2035-37 Nov 2016 Previously Nov 2013 *** there are flint, green tints in its fine yellow robe. The nose murmurs more than declares: it gives a sense of lime, guava, a brioche baked bread angle, a note of violet also. It is subtle, on the back rather than the front, forward foot. The palate has a mild flow and small flavour of cooked white fruits, doesn’t grab the attention, indeed emphasizes the neutrality that can come with the Marsanne: this needs riper cropping. There is a small floral note present. This is not obviously Rhône-origin white wine; the makers have been searching for acidity, not glycerol = error. The aftertaste is insipid. A metropolitan, disappointing wine. 13.5°. 2027-30  Nov 2013

2009

steady yellow colour, light green tints. “Soaked”, big nose – candy, white fruit tart, lots of toast. The palate also displays overt oak on its debut, has fair gras richness within. It lengthens with richness, and has a caramel, sturdy exit. The oak is rather green. Not much terroir going on here (tasted blind). From 2013 to let the oak subside. 2027-30 April 2011

2007

yellow robe, transparent top. Has a buttery, low-key nose – it is rather insipid among its white Hermitage peers, and lacks richness and foundation; the fruit is lime, maybe pear. The palate is similarly low-key – it slips along quietly, with no real defining moments. It ends freshly, with light oak toasting. This lacks Hermitage richness and stuffing, and is commercial – notably towards the finish where it fades right away. Disappointing lack of body here. 2024-26 March 2009 Previously Dec 2008 *** full, assertive yellow; the bouquet has a broad, ample nature – shows butterscotch, honey-vanilla, apricot, with lime or linden. The oak in the aroma is streamlined. The palate comes with a measured tread – this is a texture wine, with a rich content and a fat appearance or shape that tapers towards the finish after the early exchanges: it could have more on the later stages, especially given its Marsanne proportion. I expect a fuller and broader finish from a white Hermitage. It is open for a noble wine bottled only five months ago. The late flavour is like orange marmalade, and there is some grip there. Comes in a quiet style, and is OK to drink now. Less oak from 2010 onwards. 14°. 2022-25 Dec 2008

2006

a full yellow robe; the bouquet shows prominent oak, and renders a honey-vanilla nature and dried fruits, with a saltiness from the Roussanne, and dusty notes. The first flavour is flan, with brioche baked bread. The oak is never far away on the palate in a wine with low-profile depth – it is sleek rather than profound, its texture smooth all through. Tapers, and ends quietly, shows a little late grip. Mild wine that lacks true core, and fails to finish with flair or depth. 13.5°. 2024-26 Dec 2008 Previously May 2008 **(*) has a lightweight, airy nose that mixes the usual house formula of oak and pineapple, with a little saltiness from the Roussanne to vary it – is very primary still. The palate has a direct nature, and moves in a straight line without richness along its sides. It finishes on oak – that is, the cellar rather than the vineyard. I know it has been denuded by La Chapelle blanc using the 40 year Marsanne from Rocoules, but this really shows the absence of that deep-seated richness - it lacks stuffing, and the “elegance” is not interesting. If I want that elegance alone, I can go elsewhere and be more purely entertained, anyway. 2022-24 May 2008 Previously Nov 2007 *** light yellow colour; bouquet shows spiced, white stone fruits with fair persistence – a touch of asparagus and celery. There is a soft start to the palate: this is a spruced up wine. Comes in the international, “no offence, mate” mould. The length is sound, and it crackles with some late pepper, but draws to a halt a bit early. Oak is implied within, and is not overdone. It lacks width and weight (is denuded of the best Rocoules Marsanne that has gone into the brand La Chapelle white). They like this “airy” style. 14°. Now €60 a bottle tax included – trop. 2023-25 Nov 2007

2005

raisiny ripeness on the nose – baked fruits, is a wide, obvious, full-on bouquet. Stiff, rigid, cheesy flavour on the palate – shows dried fruits, but is dry-toned, too. Where next? It is a chunky wine with a firm end now – it reminds me of a Savagnin from the Jura to some extent. It needs to be retried in six months to see what is going on. Is there enough matter to allow it it to run on? That is the big question. Try in 2010. 14.5°. 2026-28 Dec 2006 Previously June 2006 ***(*) (cask) hidden bouquet; solid thrust of flavour on the attack, some mid-palate heat, its length is OK. Has a solid finale, can lengthen more with time. Esp 2008 on. 2023-26 June 2006

2004 ()

it is more elegant than usual on the nose, which has a quiet nut and floral mix. Mid-weight palate, indeed its content is light and drifts away at the end. Lacks brio, depth and is rather innocuous - a pity. It has enough acidity to live and evolve, so I don't abandon ship on this. Esp mid-2007 on, it can only benefit from delayed drinking. Some alcohol peeping out on a warm finish, the label says 14°. 2023-26 June 2006 "It was very closed to start with," Laurent Jaboulet Previously April 2006 *** gold glints on robe. Baked apple-banana aroma, with pineapple, too: has an international, non-local skew. Quite a full-on palate, and a little burnt sugar on aftertaste. Desperately wants to impress, Obvious Blonde status - witness the oak and flan, toast flavour at end. I'd prefer more freshness, lacks subtlety and grip, and not so much oak needed. 2019-21  April 2006

2003

wee exotic touches such as coconut on a nutty, quite full nose, also a creamy, flan surround, quiet width. Understated attack with some pebbly richness, a flavour of apricot and dried fruits, and nuts towards the finish. A bit dumb at present. Some oak evident on the finish, and a near tannic chewiness there. Length is good and refined. To 2026-29. June 2006 Previously ***(*) stylish, forward bouquet, white fruit/hazelnut, floral too. Facile, buttery taste, light spice, honey. Toast, dried skin fruit at finish. Likeable, polished, has good length. Just a little plain, no strong distinction. 2022-25

2002

full yellow robe; full, rich, buttery, white fruits bouquet. Pretty, rich attack - persists well, there is genuine gras here. Very correct, Marsanne influence good. Good length, salty aftertaste from the Roussanne. Meaty, near tannic ending, take your time wine, is evolving well. To 2025-27 20% new oak used this year. Dec 2004

2001 ()

fat, ripe bouquet, overtly buttery, fair depth. Quite stylish - it flourishes then retreats, oak comes along and brings drier tones. It is a bit withdrawn on the end. It was more unctuous and heavy. It may show more around 2008-10. 2023-25 Jan 2004

2000 ()

big, oily bouquet - honey/toast/vanilla pods. Quite refined melted butter attack; caramel, some finesse, rather burnt finish. Rid it of oak by maybe 2005-07, and it can be round and pleasant. Fat wine, length OK. I have found it heavy, clumsy in the past. 2020-23 May 2003

1999 ()

gold yellow robe. There is a slightly oxidative, Comté cheese aroma, dried white raisin, apricot juice, damp wool (very typical of aged white northern Rhônes), caramel, briar, some mystery. This is full, sustained, also on dried fruits, has an oxidised style. But there is tannic length here. It shows the early oxidised style of Roussanne. There is plenty of content, and it is still in the game. It is great with Black Spot pork, takes a leap forward with that. Not everyone’s cup of tea: there would be those who would write it off as a has been. 2022-24  March 2016  Previously May 2003 **(*) quite pungent, citrus/squeezed white fruit bouquet, open. Rather uneven palate - there is a degree of flesh, it but lacks some middle. It has a burnt aftertaste that I've found before. Not very thorough. 2018-20 May 2003

1998 ()

understated depth of white fruit, some freshness on bouquet; tasty, warm richness, with an oaked finish. Must shake off the cellar overlay, so leave till 2005 or so. 2022-24

1997 ()

quite pungent nose, hint of oak, lime; very big, oily wine, with a fat texture. Touch of maderisation, old style wine. Full, a sit-down and eat good fish wine. 2020-22

1996

quite a lot of super-ripe fruit, sweet tones; fat, unctuous wine, bit of butter and spice. Promising, good matter here. Will do well when older, especially around 2006. 2019-22

1995

rich, yellow look; overripe fruit bouquet. Fat style wine, only a bit more dimension than the Crozes. Some power, quite full ending. Touch of oak. First malo done for years. Crushed white fruit flavour, greengage. 2020-23

1994 ()

citrus, salted, refined bouquet. Lively, quite assertive palate, a touch piquant - lacks some stuffing. Some local character. To 2016-20

1992 ()

mature, yellow colour; very ripe smells, super-ripe crop, half normal amount at 21hl. Plenty of sap, old fashioned, could lack acidity, lush flavours, fair length. 2014-17

1991

yellow; nose bit neutral, honey aspects; nice even flavour, good persistence. Well-integrated oak, though still evident at end after nine years. 2013-16 July 2000

1990

yellow robe. Candy, bonbon, burnst sugar aroma - quite broad, and refined. Oxidative, full wine - carries sherry, almond flavours, dried raisins. The texture is good and oily. Butterscotch taste on finish, it does flow nicely, the length is retty good. The sort of wine to keep ticking over, on this cliff edge of potential oxidation. 2018-21 March 2005 Previously ***** opulent, full bouquet, weighty; rich start, has a lot of matter, runs on well to a lasting, genuine, chewy finish. Oak at end, but works well. Good, tasty. One of biggest Stérimbergs of recent times. 2020-23

1989

fairly pale robe; very fresh, appley nose, a little depth. Neutral attack, not clearly defined. Finish clean, crisp. No real local stamp, modern wine, still sorting itself. Not very striking. 2011-14

1988

pale straw robe. Some weight, bonbon style bouquet. Attractive depth, with rich also fresh side. Good end chew. Has authentic local feel, nicely made. Can show well early, too. 2015-18

1983

some Roussanne effect on bit dry, pungent, almost cheese nose. Fair depth, some apricot dried fruit at end. Not drying, but a touch under par. July 1997  Previously Jan 1985 ***** really quite dark colour. The nose is very rich, has airs of cheese, ripe white stone fruits, nuts. The early attack is lovely, tremendously wide. There is a slight citrus note but marvellous Marsanne flavours of hazelnut and honey behind that. The balance is 100%, the length great – this is excellent. It is delightful now, but will keep going very well – to 1997-2001, in that range  Restaurant Pic, Valence, Jan 1985

1971

(magnum) sound yellow colour; the bouquet has understated authority – it is extremely fine, very well rounded, and still very much in the main flow of its life. The palate has a good attack – it comes out and delivers with no delay, and still has an interesting acidity sustaining it; it simply doesn’t give a clue to its 23 years age at all. It is perhaps moving towards a more refined, sophisticated style of Stérimberg than the root and branch earthiness of the traditional times from the 1960s. Even at this late age, it is very good, and may live for another 15 or so years. 2011-14  July 1994

1967

(magnum) this was drunk from 1 July to 6 July 1994 at home: the cork is in some decay, there is a bit of leakage and about 1.5 inches of ullage; the colour is mature, going to gold. This is EXTRAORDINARY wine. At opening it started out with a dryness and the distinct feel and taste that it was turning to sherry; it still had some Rhône richness on the second half of the palate. After a gap of two days, it had blossomed, offering a well-moulded richness on the palate, being very round and durable there. The aromas are attractive, discreet, and there is a good, rather damp richness on the bouquet, a bit of nuttiness and a bit of cheese. The palate has very becoming depth and sustained length, even after 6 days open. It is true to Hermitage blanc, authentic; the vintage was not one of the heaviest and has a bonny roundness, and I recall the Chave 1967 white also being a storming wine after nearly thirty years. It can live for another 10+ years on this display. 2008-12  July 1994, London