Replacing the Petit Chapelle cuvée and first made in 2015, the 2016 Hermitage La Maison Bleue is smoking good. Black fruits, charcoal, powdered rock, currants and chocolate notes all give way to a big, concentrated, impressively structured barrel sample that has tons of potential. I expect the tannin will have integrated by the time this is released, but a few years of bottle age are still recommended.
(20% new oak) Saturated bright-rimmed ruby. Seductive, mineral-tinged aromas of red and blue preserves, cola, violet pastille and olive paste, along with a spicy topnote. Black raspberry and cherry liqueur flavors display excellent energy and depth, a subtle spicecake accent and zesty back-end cut. Deftly plays richness off vivacity and shows no excess fat. Finishes with persistent cherry and floral notes, supple tannins and strong, spicy persistence. (JR)
The 2016 Hermitage La Maison Bleue comes from the alluvial soils toward the eastern side of the appellation. A representative blend showed a bit of toasty character but also plenty of supple dark fruit and a rich, velvety texture. It should be ready to drink shortly after release and drink well for a decade or more after that. (JC)
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2016 Raymond Usseglio "Cuvée Impériale - Vignes Centenaires" Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Pre-Arrival)