Hermitage is the most famous of all the northern Rhône appellations. The
hill of Hermitage is situated above the town of Tain and overlooking the
town of Tournon which is just across the river. Hermitage has 120
hectares and produces tiny quantities of very long-lived reds.
Vines grown in Roman times although local folklore claims vines were grown
nearly 600 years earlier. The name Hermitage appeared in the 16th Century
derived from a legend from the 13th Century Crusade involving a wounded knight
called Gaspard de Sterimberg who made refuge on the hill, planted vines
and became a hermit.
During the 17th century Hermitage was recognised as one of the
finest in Europe. In 1775 Ch. Lafite was blended with Hermitage and was one of
the greatest wines of its day. In the late 19th century Phylloxera wiped out
all the vineyards.
The wines are powerful, they have a deep colour, firm tannins and develop
into some of the finest wines found in France and can potentially age for many
decades. The best Hermitage is produced from several climats or more, blended
together. The main climates are Les Bessards, Le Meal,
LHermite. Les Greffieux and Les Diognieres. Most of
the finest climates face broadly south, giving maximum sunshine. Most growers
only have one or two climats and they might not complement each other.
Hermitage quality can therefore vary hugely. Only the top producers have
extensive diversified holdings.
80% of the wine produced is red, however up to 15% of white grapes can be
used in the blend. Most growers use 100% Syrah and use the white
grapes to make white wines only. Chapoutier, Jaboulet and Tain
lHermitage Co-operative are the main proprietors of vineyard in the
The white wines are made from the Marsanne and Roussanne. Great white
Hermitage has the ability to age, it takes on the fruit characters of apricots
and peaches and often gives a very nutty finish. The best can last 50 years in
Mature red Hermitage can be confused with old Bordeaux. In a blind tasting
of 1961 1st Growth Clarets, the famous 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle was
included. Most people, including its owner, Gerard Jaboulet, mistook it
for Ch. Margaux.
- Recommended Producers: Chave, Jaboulet, Chapoutier, Ferraton, Colombier
- Best Vintages: 2006,2005,2004, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1991, 1990,