Chapoutier   Ermitage lErmite Blanc

2010 Ermitage l'Ermite Blanc

By Chapoutier

2010 Ermitage l'Ermite Blanc from Chapoutier, Rhône

The 2010 Ermitage l'Ermite Blanc from Chapoutier is a testament to both vineyard stewardship and visionary winemaking. A showcase of the Rhone region’s skill and resilience, this vintage Cherry-picks the exceptional weather of 2010, culminating in an offering that is bright, balanced and brimming with character.


Stage for Exceptional Viticulture

The first mention must be about the unique terroir of Ermitage hill that offered excellent conditions in 2010 for nurturing the Marsanne grapes. Augmented by granite-rich soils wrapped up in caressing warmth of the Rhone Valley; these are elements critical to the identity of this fine investment-worthy white wine.

Marc Chapoutier, the master craftsman behind this wine, once again flaunts his ability to harness the raw power of Marsanne, knitting it into a structured and profound expression of white Rhône.


A Harmonious Symphony of Flavours

On the nose, it welcomes you with an aromatic embrace of delicate florals and ripe exotic fruits. Subtle notes of honeysuckle, almond and apricot transport you to a sun-drenched French orchard. It brings forth nuances with every sip; each hint more enticing than the previous.

In content, it's a well-oiled machine—rich palate yet never overpowering, gifted with an extraordinary balance between minerality and extended tropical fruit finish. Almost paradoxical in its majestic intensity matched with ethereal elegance. This wine is indeed a beautiful creature coaxed from an exemplary vintage.


Investment Value Par Excellence

Recognizing its potential for long-cellaring, investors have every reason to lay claim on a case or two of the 2010 Ermitage l'Ermite Blanc from Chapoutier. Few Rhône whites possess such a remarkable ageing potential, thanks to its purity and balance, thereby signposting its full investment worth.

In summary, the 2010 Ermitage l'Ermite Blanc from Chapoutier adds up to more than just an impressive white Rhône—it is a privileged insight into a fine winemaking tradition, illuminated by the brilliance of a bountiful year. It's an experience, that like the wine itself, only gets better with time.

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The 2010 Ermitage l’Ermite Blanc, which comes from pure granite soils, is a perfect wine. This awesome white, made from pre-phylloxera vines that are not grafted onto American root stocks, offers notes of acacia flowers, orange and nectarine oils, a liquid rock-like component and a full-bodied, multidimensional and multilayered finish. As the great French wine critic Michel Bettane said about l’Ermite in many different vintages, it is “greater than the greatest Montrachet.” This is a 50- to 75-year white wine. In November of this year, Michel Chapoutier finally made the cover of The Wine Spectator. The accompanying article said essentially the same things I had written about over twenty years ago. More importantly, I am thrilled that Chapoutier received this attention because it has long been deserved. History will record that Michel Chapoutier is a revolutionary. He is also a highly emotional man whose infectious love of primitive art, historic books, classical music and, of course, terroir and winemaking are seemingly impossible to harness. Michel Chapoutier was among the first in France to embrace the radical biodynamic agricultural teachings, for which he was initially criticized, but is now praised. He was also the first to print all his labels in Braille, something that cynics considered to be a gimmick, but ask the National Association for the Blind what they think. Coming from a famous family, but moving in a direction unlike any of its previous members, Michel Chapoutier is self-taught. What he has accomplished over the last two decades or more is one of the great wine stories of the modern era. With all his outgoing, boisterous, machine-gun-speed prose that can sometimes sound shockingly cocky, and at other times reminiscent of the famous Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, there is never a dull moment around Chapoutier., who makes comments such as “Filtering wine is like making love with a condom,” and “Acidifying wine is like putting a suit of armor on the vineyard’s terroir, vintage character and the cepage.” Don’t blame him if his brilliant intellect and shocking vocabulary put his visitors on the defensive. Michel Chapoutier has proven through his genius, the faith of his convictions and backbreaking attention to detail in his vineyards and in the winery that a once moribund negociant (yet with significant vineyard holdings) could become a beacon of inspiration and quality for the entire world. In short, every wine consumer in the world should admire his accomplishments. All of Chapoutier’s lower level 2010 whites and basic reds have long been sold out, so to keep the tasting somewhat limited during my visit, we focused on the more recently released 2010 white and red selections parcellaires and nearly all the 2011s. As for the 2010 selection parcellaire whites, they are spectacular. Le Pavillon, once called Rochefine and owned by Jaboulet-Verchere, consists of 10 acres of pure granite in the famed Les Bessards, which is considered by many to be the single greatest terroir of Hermitage. The Ermitage Le Pavillon, which is meant to age for 50+ years, is Michel Chapoutier’s legacy, and he is confident that history will support his belief in this extraordinary wine. Michel Chapoutier is not alone in believing the 2011s may resemble a more modern day version of 1991. That vintage was largely underrated by just about everybody (except yours truly) because all the accolades and hyperbole were largely bestowed on both 1989 and 1990 (deservedly), but in the Northern Rhone 1991 turned out to be a strikingly superb vintage for Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and Condrieu. In the Southern Rhone, the vintage was largely a disaster. Following is an overview of what to expect with the inexpensive 2011 whites and reds. Most of these wines do not have the weight, power or tannic structure of the 2010s, but they are by no means diluted or wimpish wines. They tend to be charming, fruit-forward and seductive, and thus may be preferred by consumers looking for immediate gratification. Although the first few wines reviewed are Southern Rhones, they need to be covered because they are in bottle, and I did not review them in issue 203. Along with several other producers, Michel Chapoutier has helped increase the world’s attention to the long-forgotten, microscopic appellation of St.-Peray. Chapoutier produces a bevy of St.-Perays under his own name as well as in partnership with two three-star chefs, Sophie Pic, of the Restaurant Pic in Valence (as well as several culinary branches in Paris and Lausanne, Switzerland), and Yannick Alleno, the brilliant chef at the Hotel Le Meurice’s in Paris. The red 2011 selections parcellaires are already fruit-forward and seductive. Readers should love them as they are much more evolved than the more structured, powerful, dense, tannic 2010s. Importer: Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, IL; tel. (847) 604-8900

Robert Parker Jr - The Wine Advocate, 26 December 2012

Vintage performance