From the most granitic part of the Hermitage hill, this is sweet and lush on the surface, firm and gravelly underneath. With time in the glass, the two parts meld more seamlessly, the earthy tones imbuing the purple fruit with a meaty savor. Decant to drink now with a standing rib roast, or hold another eight to twelve years.
Opaque ruby. Potent blackberry, cherry-cola, licorice and mineral scents pick up a peppery quality with aeration, as well as notes of dark chocolate and pungent herbs. Shows excellent depth and energy in the mouth, offering sweet dark fruit and mocha flavors that are underscored and lifted by tangy acidity. The floral and mineral notes energize the incisive finish, which features supple tannins and a touch of fruitcake. (The 2010 Bessards is, unsurprisingly, still a baby, but it's showing a suave, seamless texture and deep, sweet dark fruit character that is surprisingly user-friendly for such a young Hermitage. Don't be deceived, though, as this wine deserves many more years of patience.) (JR)
A dark, muscular, slightly rugged style, with chunky-edged grip supporting loam, bittersweet cocoa, steeped black currant and charcoal notes, with buried acidity emerging on the finish. This should be tamed by cellaring as the smoldering edge settles into the background. Best from 2016 through 2026. 75 cases imported. (JM)
Even better and one of the top two to three wines in the vintage, the 2011 Hermitage Les Bessards (100% Syrah that spent 16 months in 70% new French oak) possesses an inky purple color to go with a fabulously rich, pure bouquet of smoked earth, ground pepper, underbrush and licorice that’s supported by awesome black raspberry and cassis-styled fruit. Full-bodied, seamless and layered, with masses of sweet tannin and notable structure, this beauty bucks the vintage stereotype and will need short-term cellaring to become approachable. It will have 2-3 decades of longevity. (JD)
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