The 2018 Crozes-Ermitage Les Varonniers is another Hermitage look-alike with extraordinary notes of blackcurrants, toasted spice, new saddle leather, burning embers, and bacon fat. With full-bodied richness, awesome depth of fruit, and building tannins, it will mostly likely be the wine of the vintage from Crozes Hermitage.
Highly perfumed, mineral-accented black/blue fruit liqueur, incense and potpourri aromas take on exotic spice and licorice nuances with aeration. Deeply concentrated but lively as well, offering sappy blueberry, cassis, violet pastille and fruitcake flavors that are given vibrant lift by smoky mineral and spice flourishes. The mineral note drives an extremely long, energetic finish, where chewy tannins provide shape and firming grip. (JR)
Sumptuous cherries line the medium to full-bodied palate of the 2018 Crozes Hermitage les Varonniers. Underneath—for the moment—are stony notes of granitic reserve, which I wouldn't be surprised to see emerge even more with time. For now, this looks plush and fruity, but don't be misled—there's more here. As has become my habit, I scheduled a full morning with Michel Chapoutier and his team to taste through the company's wines from the Northern Rhône. The fascination here with individual wines of terroir means that the number of bottlings has grown considerably over the years, and the session always includes wines from several partnerships Chapoutier has with other personalities, like renowned chefs in the Pic Chapoutier and Michael Alléno and Michel Chapoutier wines (reviews listed separately). It was fascinating to sample the 2017s and 2018s in such close proximity, as some cuvées/appellations seemed to have fared better in 2017, while others look potentially better in 2018. At the very top end, you can't go wrong with any of the sélections parcellaires from either vintage. (JC)
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