The 2003 Hermitage is as profound as they come. Inky in color, with incredible kirsch, blackberry liqueur, flowers, licorice and hints of underlying meatiness, it hits the palate with a full-bodied, massively concentrated profile that has nothing out of place, seamless integration of its fruit, alcohol and tannin, and an overriding elegant, perfectly balanced feel. Drink it anytime over the coming three decades. Jean Louis’ two 2003 Hermitages should be on everyone’s bucket list of wines to try at least once (preferably more) in their life. They both represent the essence of Hermitage and are as good as wine gets. (JD)
'Now we take the monster out of his cage,' Jean-Louis warned me before pouring this. Inky, almost black in color. Elemental, hugely concentrated and powerful on the nose, which slowly unveils aromas of dark cherry liqueur, blackberry, cassis, espresso and a deep note of sweet tobacco. Impossibly rich and dense on the palate (the yields in 2003 were off by two-thirds), showing myriad dark fruit and bitter chocolate flavors, with a suggestion of tapenade and an intense licorice quality. Remarkably, this takes on a mineral tone on the finish, which has the effect of further drawing out the amazingly powerful finish.
This shows the extreme plum, blackberry and raspberry confiture notes of this very hot year, stuffed with extra blood orange, singed clove, saddle leather and freshly plowed humus. The tannins offer a lightly firm cedar edge, but are well-melded into the core. Will likely always be controversial because of the exotic profile, but this is a wine that completely captures the essence of the vintage without sacrificing a sense of terroir. And isn't that what we look for?—Non-blind Chave vertical (June 2012). Drink now through 2030. (JM, Web-2012)
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