As usual, Chapoutier's 2018 Ermitage l'Ermite is a standout among standouts. Crushed stone, blueberries, even a touch of herb feature on the nose, while the full-bodied palate is cool and crunchy but also ripe and generous. It's rich and long, with a firm, granitic structure that should enable two-plus decades of aging. This has it all. 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)
Similar to the Le Pavillon with its liquid rock minerality, the 2018 Ermitage L’Ermite's inky purple/blue color is followed a gorgeous nose of blueberries, spring flowers, incense, cracked pepper, and spice. This flows to a more opulent, full-bodied, massively concentrated wine that has ripe, sweet tannins, no hard edges, and a huge finish. While the Pavillon has a more l'Ermite-like character in this vintage, the L'Ermite is more Pavillon-like with its beautiful opulence and decadence. I’ve no doubt both wines will show more classic characters this time next year from bottle.
This is very pure with a lovely intensity of fruit and impact, remarkable tension and saline edge. It has real drive and thrust and is just a little leaner and lower in alcohol than some recent vintages. Perhaps not quite as long, but this is still very much L'Ermite - it has the same signature and Ermite skeleton, just not so much flesh. A yield of 31hl/ha, high for this parcel, matured 100% in barriques, 20% new oak. Drinking Window 2022 - 2036. (MW)
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