One of the candidates for France's wine of the vintage is unquestionably Chapoutier's 1996 Hermitage l'Ermite. In October, 1997 I reported that this was a virtually perfect wine made from a small parcel of vines, believed to be over 100 years old, located close to the tiny white chapel owned by the Jaboulets on the highest part of the Hermitage Hill. Yields were a minuscule 9 hectoliters per hectare. Now that this wine is in bottle, it is unbelievable! Unfortunately, only 30 cases were exported to the United States. The wine boasts a saturated black/purple color, as well as a phenomenal nose of rose petals, violets, blackberries, cassis, and pain grille. In the mouth, it is phenomenally rich, with a viscous texture, and a multidimensional, layered finish that lasts for over a minute. Its purity, perfect equilibrium, and unbelievable volume and richness are the stuff of legends. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2050. (RP)
A blockbuster red wine, delivering heavyweight power with amazing finesse. Thick, ripe, rich and superextracted, it's inky-dark, full-bodied, tastes of the earth, cassis and blackberry, mocha and spice, ink, iron, mineral and blood, with a massive amount of full, ripe and sweet tannins. A monumental effort from the Northern Rhône. *Highly Recommended* (PM)
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