Immensely complex on the nose, red fruits, dark chocolate, cassis, toasted spices, cured meat, fresh cracked pepper, and turned earth light up the senses. The palate is concentrated, deeply complex, and full of plush red fruits. The elegance of this wine is unmatched with firm acidity, fine tannins, and a finish that goes on for minutes.
Generally 100% destemmed, as the Hermitage is meant to be about the expression of the individual vineyards and soils and Jean-Louis believes that stems have a tendency to level out the differences. Fermentation in wood tonneaux and stainless steel tanks. Aged in barriques for 30 months.
As usual, the 2019 Hermitage remained largely as separate components at the time of my visit. Some pre-blending had occurred, so I tasted a combination of Beaumes and Péléat, as well as components from L'Ermite, Méal and Bessards. Uniformly full-bodied, concentrated and long, with rich, velvety tannins, dark-fruit flavors (cassis, blueberries, boysenberries) and hints of crushed stone and licorice, comparisons with 2003 aren't unreasonable.
A potential candidate for the wine of the vintage, the 2019 Hermitage is a massive, full-bodied, yet mineral-laced and undeniably classic wine from this estate. All of the components showed incredibly well, with the Le Méal offering classic sexiness, the Hermite being straight and focused, and the Bessards just as good as any Syrah out there. It shows the ripeness of the vintage, yet the purity of fruit is incredible. It’s another magical wine in an incredible series of awesome Hermitage from this family.
A tasting of barrel samples of different lieux-dits: Péléat, Beaumes, Ermite, Le Méal, Bessards. Long, slow fermentations due to the high potential alcohols this year, some barrels reaching over 15% - at the limit of what the indigenous yeasts can handle. Even the Bessards component, which is usually so strict and skeletal, is full of fruit this year. The last exceptionally hot year was 2003, which produced a wine that was highly atypical, with notably jammy fruit. That's not the case in 2019 - the fruit is fresh and lively. It's hard to make a judgement at this stage; the alcohol is high, and may always feel warming. Either way, it will provide great pleasure and impact, despite its extreme style.