Chapoutier   Ermitage lErmite

2009 Ermitage l'Ermite

By Chapoutier

2009 Ermitage l'Ermite from Chapoutier, Rhone, France

Crafted by the iconic hands of Michel Chapoutier, the 2009 Ermitage l'Ermite exhibits an immense flamboyance and rich intensity, a direct result of the warm 2009 vintage. This wine's allure lies in its vibrancy of character, a charm unveiled only after a decade or more in bottle.


A Harbinger of the Vintage

The Rhone Valley experienced a particularly indulgent summer in 2009, graced with generous sunlight and well-balanced temperatures. This serendipitous weather pattern proffered an exceptional harvest, framing the potential for a truly superior wine offering.

The 2009 Ermitage l'Ermite from Chapoutier symbolises this meteorological good fortune perfectly. Its lush nose of ripe cherries, incense and liquorice anticipates a structured palate that is at once earthy, spicy and full-bodied. Chapoutier's savviness made certain the grandiose richness was tamed within an envelope of refined freshness.


The Fruits of a Fine Vintage

The 2009 vintage left an indelible mark on the Rhone vineyards, shaping wines with profound depth and longevity. Think of the 2009 Ermitage l'Ermite as a treatise on this climatically stellar year, it is one investment wine that speaks volumes about its source and composition.

Ermitage l’Ermite’s core power lies in its monopoly of Syrah vines on the revered Hermitage hill. The exceedingly low-yields result in concentrated fruit intensity that pairs beautifully with matured notes of spice and mineral hinting at definitive cellaring potential.

With the 2009 offering, Chapoutier has once again exemplified their prowess in capturing the brilliance of a generous vintage and transforming it into a worthwhile investment. Majestic, magnificent, yet tastefully restrained, this goliath is surely making sizeable waves in the investment world.

Should you be fortunate enough to procure a case, revel in the knowledge that you possess one of the jewels of the 2009 Rhone. The longer this exquisite bottle matures, the more mesmerising its liquid wealth becomes, both in taste and investment value.

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Conservatively, the 2009 Ermitage l’Ermite (702 cases) needs 25-30 years of cellaring. Another monumental effort from Michel Chapoutier, it possesses copious notes of smoky asphalt, black truffles, pen ink, graphite and blackberry liqueur intermixed with hints of flowers and crushed rocks. Extremely full-bodied with abundant sweet tannins, amazing penetration on the palate and a long finish, this historic effort should age effortlessly for 50-100+ years. As I have written many times, all of these wines are produced from rigidly cultivated, bio-dynamically managed vineyards. That has been the rule since Michel Chapoutier first took over this firm in the late 1980s. Now, with over 20 years of biodynamic viticulture under his belt, Chapoutier remains committed to this rather radical style of organic farming. He believes the effect is to reduce rot in damp, rainy vintages. Moreover, he has observed that after 10 to 15 years of biodynamic farming, the natural acids tend to be more vivid and the overall pH of the soils (as well as the wines) has dropped. Controversial, outspoken and brutally candid, Chapoutier, who suffers no fools, continues to admirably produce wines that are among the finest in the world and potentially the longest lived. Refusing to acidify, chaptalize, or touch the wines in any way, he clearly wants every wine to capture the very essence of its terroir and vintage personality. In this, he succeeds remarkably. No one has made more effort in resurrecting the once-forgotten backwater appellation of St.-Peray than Michel Chapoutier. Working in conjunction with the famed Michelin three-star restaurant family, the Pics, Chapoutier has produced a sensational 2010 Gamme Pic and Chapoutier St.-Peray, and the first single-vineyard St.-Peray, the 2010 Lieu-Dit Peyrolles St.-Peray, which is one of the greatest St.-Perays I have ever tasted. This appellation is all steep hillside vineyards planted in pure, decomposed granite soils, not dissimilar from Hermitage, but they are located on the other side of the Rhone, facing the city of Valence. The single-vineyard wines, or selections parcellaires, 2010 whites are absolutely amazing, with production levels ranging from 300 to 700 or 800 cases of each cuvee. These wines are for true connoisseurs, as they are expensive and meant for long, long evolutions, but they capture the essence of a vintage and terroir as well as any wines in the world. As for the selections parcellaires of 2010 reds, Chapoutier likes this vintage almost as much as 2009, but feels it is very different, emphasizing more acidity and minerality, whereas 2009 is a combination of pure power, concentration and great potential longevity. Michel Chapoutier considers the 2009s, which are all in bottle, to be among the greatest wines he has ever produced, equaling his finest wines of 2006, 2003, 1999, 1990 and 1989 (his debut year). Importer: Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, IL; tel. (847) 604-8900

Robert Parker Jr - The Wine Advocate, 22 December 2011

Vintage performance