Hermitage, a prestigious wine from the Northern Rhône Valley
It is undoubtedly one of the most famous wines of the Northern Rhône Valley. From the top of a legendary hill in the Drôme, the wines of the AOC Hermitage, or Ermitage, have an aura that reaches beyond all borders. This reputation is due to the high quality of the wines, whether they are red (Syrah) or, more rarely, white (Marsanne and Roussanne).
General presentation of the Hermitage appellation
On the left bank of the Rhône, just before the AOC Cornas and Saint-Péray, the Hermitage appellation is enclosed within the Crozes-Hermitage appellation. These two AOCs share a passion for syrah on the one hand, and marsanne and roussanne on the other. In the northern part of the Rhone Valley, the Hermitage vineyard spreads out north of Valence from a mythical hill where, in the 13th century, the hermitage to which it owes its name was founded.
The AOC is produced in three communes in the Drôme: Tain-l'Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Larnage. The vineyard is generally divided into three distinct zones, the western one being the source of the best red wines of the appellation, and the eastern one being dedicated to the best white wines.
This vineyard covers just over 130 hectares. The red Hermitage wines are made from Syrah, which represents at least 85% of the vineyard. This grape variety can be completed by roussanne and marsanne, up to a limit of 15%. The white wines are composed exclusively of marsanne and roussanne, two grape varieties which also allow the production of "vin de paille" in small quantities.
Characteristics of Hermitage
A red Hermitage has a deep ruby red colour, a deep garnet colour that evolves towards orange and tile. In its youth, its aromatic palette is marked by small fruits, such as blackcurrant, and wild flowers, such as violets. This bouquet evolves towards stone fruits and green olives. With time, as it becomes more supple, refined and round, a red Hermitage takes the path of the undergrowth and is tinged with notes of leather, black truffle and candied fruit.
Under a luminous yellow colour with golden reflections, a white Hermitage reveals an aromatic palette that is initially all flowers: iris, narcissus and linden in particular. The fruit comes through with touches of peach and apricot. The whole is expressed on a honeyed and creamy hazelnut background. With age, notes of vanilla and toasted almond take over.
The Hermitage AOC produces red and white wines with a high ageing potential of several decades. The best vintages can be kept for 30 years or more.
How to taste a Hermitage
A Hermitage is a wine of high gastronomy. It is often served to accompany dishes involving rare and sophisticated products, such as black truffles, Alba truffles, fine game, shellfish and noble fish... The reds also accompany fine pieces of meat, such as a grilled rib of beef, a leg of lamb or a shoulder of lamb..., as well as cheeses with character such as Langres or Maroilles. White wines are also the best allies of beautiful poultry in cream sauce, such as poularde de Bresse.
For their temperature of service, the red Hermitage wines are best drunk at about 16°; the whites, between 12 and 14°.