2008 Ermitage l'Ermite
2008 Ermitage l'Ermite from Chapoutier, Rhone, Rest of the World
From the heartland of the Rhone comes this treasured delight - the 2008 Ermitage l'Ermite by Chapoutier. Asserting its place amongst renowned vintages, this brush-stroked beauty shows why it is considered an inspiring choice for keen wine investors
Exceptional Year, Exquisite Wine
The year 2008 stands tall in the winemaking calendar, having blessed vineyards with mild climatic conditions that permitted an unhurried ripening of the Syrah grapes. This unhurried tempo resulted in a vintage that teased out layers of remarkable complexity in its bouquet and taste.
Evoking awe-worthy emotions with every sip, 2008 Ermitage l’Ermite from Chapoutier offers a symphony of notes - each enhancing the charm of others yet commanding attention towards itself. It shines by seamlessly aligning intensity with elegance in an act few wines can master.
Tackling the Tasting Notes
The 2008 Ermitage l’Ermite unfolds a captivating tapestry of nuanced aromatics, presenting vibrant elements of crushed blackberries and smoked meats intertwined tantalizingly with ethereal whispers from the earthy core. On the palate, that enviable balance between power and grace continues to define this stellar creation. It compels intrigue with an intricate dance between brooding dark fruits and invigorating mineral notes. The wine’s longevity is unquestionable - its considerable tannic structure promises to evolve gracefully still.
The Definitive Investment Wine
For fine wine connoisseurs eager to enrich their collection, this 2008 Ermitage l'Ermite stands as an enviable choice. Its exceptional winemaking credentials, exceptional ageing potential, and high praise from wine critics solidify its position as an investable wine, poised for great appreciation in the years to come.
In the grand tapestry of vintage wines, the 2008 Ermitage l’Ermite from Chapoutier surely dazzles. It offers a deftly woven tale of an exceptional year, masterful craftsmanship and unearthly terroir, setting it apart as one of life's exalted pleasures - a salient badge of honour in any discerning cellar.
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Scores and tasting notes
It is an amazing achievement. Even better is the 2008 Ermitage l’Ermite (449 cases). Not as concentrated as Le Pavillon, it reveals a powdered rock character in its ink, graphite, earth, blueberry and black currant-scented bouquet. Displaying medium to full body as well as great purity, it is another amazing accomplishment from Michel Chapoutier. Interestingly, in 2008, Chapoutier decided to cut back on the new oak for all of his top cuvees (utilizing 25% versus the normal 100%). Other extraordinary efforts readers should be watching for include the 2009 Bila Haut Lesquerde, a Syrah dominated wine that I scored in the upper-90s. Equally as profound, but made from a completely different blend is the Bila Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages La Tour de France, which is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Both of these offerings are as remarkable as wine can be. From Australia, some wines to take note of include the Domaine Tournon 2009 Shiraz (or Syrah), an outstanding red sold at a fair price, and his single vineyard offerings the 2009 Shiraz Shays’ Flat and the 2009 Shiraz Landsborough, both extraordinary, mid-90 point Syrahs from Victoria. Also, readers should not forget his 2009 La Pleiade M45, a Syrah from the Cambrian soils of Heathcote. An Australian wine that flirts with perfection, which I had never tasted before, is the 2009 Shiraz One Shot from Beechworth, which is like a liqueur of blueberries and raspberries intermixed with graphite, tar and minerality. Other stunning offerings from Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier include the 2009 Shiraz Malakoff (rated 92-94) and the 2009 Shiraz L Block (rated 93-95+). Last, but not least, Michel Chapoutier has entered the Portuguese wine arena, producing two extraordinary wines from a 5-hectare parcel in the Douro. The 2009 Touriga Nacional (rated 94-96) comes from pure schist soils. It reveals incredible floral notes intermixed with sweet blueberry, black raspberry and cassis. As amazing as it is, it may be surpassed by the 2009 Touriga Nacional Pinteivera from Pinhao. It is undeniably the single greatest red Portuguese wine I have ever tasted. It, too, is from schist soils. Both of these wines are remarkable efforts from what may be the world’s leading, irreverent genius in winemaking and winemaking philosophy. And one more thing about the remarkable Michel Chapoutier, he now has property in Alsace, Domaine Schieferkopf. I tasted a 2009 Riesling (rated 89), 2009 Riesling Buehl (rated 93), and 2009 Riesling Fels (rated 94). All are very dry, crisp, medium to full-bodied Rieslings from the Andlau sector of northern Alsace. These remarkable whites come from schist soils and Chapoutier has again demonstrated his Midas touch with a completely different varietal. Michel Chapoutier is firmly convinced that 2009 is the greatest vintage in his lifetime, which means 2009 surpasses 2003 (he made some great wines in that unusual vintage), 1999, 1990 and 1989 (his debut vintage after taking over the firm). These wines are all produced by bio-dynamically farmed vineyards. Moreover, there is no chaptalization or acidification, and as Michel Chapoutier says, he wants to capture each vintage in photographic detail. It is also important to recognize Chapoutier’s life philosophy, which, rather than being obsessed with correcting one’s faults, is dedicated to capitalizing on one’s strengths. For all of his charm and bravado, Chapoutier is the quintessential man of the soil, a true terroiriste dedicated to producing the most vivid, natural and unadulterated expressions of the many different vineyards with which he works. While 2009 was a perfect year of extraordinary concentration as well as freshness, the 2008 vintage experienced huge rainstorms on September 5, 6 and 8. However, Chapoutier argues that while his bio-dynamically farmed vineyards suffered from some dilution, they had no sanitary problems like many other estates endured. Certainly his 2008s appear to be among the strongest efforts in a disappointing vintage in the Northern Rhone. One expects Chapoutier to excel with his four Hermitage vineyards (Le Pavillon, l’Ermite, Le Meal and Les Greffieux). Tasting through the 2009s reinforces the belief that this is one of the all-time great vintages for the entire Northern Rhone Valley. It couldn’t happen at a better time. While certain 2003s are great, there really hasn’t been an overall consistently profound vintage in the Northern Rhone since 1990. Connoisseurs should be stocking up on the single vineyard offerings, both white and red, which are spectacular. Michel Chapoutier makes a bevy of other wines that merit a few notes because they are so good. Even though they are not from my areas of responsibilities, I thought I would mention a few that stood out when I tasted with him. Like an itinerant genius, Chapoutier has projects in Australia, Portugal and southern France. I and my colleague David Schildknecht have written about his exquisite offerings from the Cotes du Roussillon under the label Domaine de Bila Haut, and his partnership with the Laughton family for his Agly Brothers Cotes du Roussillon rouge. These wines all merit attention from consumers. Importer: Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, IL; tel. (847) 604-8900
Robert Parker Jr - The Wine Advocate, 27 February 2011