The 1999 Ermitage l'Ermite is a wine that borders on perfection compared to its backward performance last year from barrel. Sadly, there are usually 500-600 cases of the cuvee, but in 1999 only 400 were produced. It comes from Chapoutier's oldest vines (most over 100 years of age), and represents the essence of both Hermitage and Syrah. From bottle, the 1999 l'Ermite reveals an old style Lafleur character in its kirsch liqueur intermixed with raspberries, blackberries, and striking minerality. It has put on considerable weight since last year, but is essentially an elegant, ethereal effort with incredible intensity as well as amazing lightness. It is a phenomenal expression of terroir. However, be forewarned, anyone expecting to derive a lot of pleasure from this before another fifteen years elapse, will be disappointed. (RP)
Sensational terroir wine. Packs in the chalky mineral character of the Hermitage soil, and offers intense fruit flavors. Despite the massive tannins, this concentrated, full-bodied red seems silky on the lingering finish. Drink now through 2020. (PM)
Medium ruby. Cooler but precise aromas of blackberry, blueberry, licorice and menthol; last year my barrel sample was dominated by the 60% new oak, but in the finished wine the wood has been thoroughly integrated. The sweetest and most powerful of this trio, but extremely backward, even tough, today; conveys a strong impression of medicinal austerity. But this is superconcentrated and vibrant, a distinctly uphill style of Hermitage. In fact, this is less obviously a wine from the '99 vintage than it is simply great Hermitage. Finishes with powerful granular tannins and subtle, chewy persistence. The '98 special Hermitage bottlings came from lower yields, according to Mathieu, but may not last as long as these '99s. (ST) 93+
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