Perennially one of the greatest white wines of the appellation, from principally 100+ year old vines on the clay/chalk/alluvial stony soils of les Rocoules (from which the guts of Chave’s Hermitage blanc also hails), this is self evident, as good as it gets class in a glass, no matter how you slice it. The 2017 has an even more weightless quality, Guillaume had mentioned to me, than the ’18, which plain dazzled me for its impossible harmony of such richness with lift. From Learmonth’s superlative review and recommendation to begin tasting it in 2023-2024, to Marc’s 30+ year wine endorsement, to this fellow who now writes for Parker Joe Czerwinski and his superlatives, much to whet the appetite….
My tasting note on the 2018 : A similar profile of weightless intensity as the Classique blanc, but with an impossible to miss step up in amplitude and complexity both aromatically and in the mouth, this is still an embryonic expression of what will surely evolve tremendously. Guillaume tells me that Marc believes that Hermitage white is even more ageworthy than the red, and that it is infanticide to open a bottle prior to its fifteenth birthday. I have a hard time imagining this being anything but dazzling gorgeous in the full flush of its youth, but I, like so many wine lovers, hardly know aged white Hermitage at all. Livingstone, who knows his sh!t lifetimes more than I, gave this his highest rating of the vintage en blanc. What else can I say? As good as it gets…..A little * awarded here. 5 barrels made (125 cases).
“85-95% Marsanne, 5-15% Roussanne from 1928, 1930s, early 1950s on Rocoules, fermented, raised 4-5 year 228-litre oak casks 16-18 months, from 2007 20-25% new oak used, 900-2,600 b” JLL
“thick, deep yellow, a gleaming robe; Has a sweet n’plump aroma, plum and exotic fruit such as guava jelly airs. The nose lies low, carries much potential, extends long, really keeps going, has a smouldering intensity. This is like red wine on the palate – it has the structure, is eighteenth century Hermitage blanc for the very long haul. There’s bounty in the glass, with nuttiness, apricot, greengage in the flavour. It is thorough all along the palate, with Marsanne at its heart, giving it notes of mineral, dorsal column, while the 8% Roussanne adds flattery. This is remarkable, since there is precision in the late stages also, and an aromatic aftertaste. 14.3°. Harvested 3 September 2017. Decanting advised. From 2023-24 to allow it time to get going, do not drink around 2020. “Be patient with this – it will live for 30+ years,” Marc Sorrel. 2050-52 Nov 2018 Previously Nov 2017 ***** (228-litre cask) shiny, full yellow. The bouquet is lovely, has real pedigree, a graceful hazelnut aroma, ginger, citrus tang, a note of aniseed and licorice cut, expressive Marsanne on the agenda. The attack is wholesome, pursues its path well, delivers flowing richness, holds squeezy, effortless content, old vine sève or sap. There is a cooked lemon clarity in it. This has very good freshness, is a balanced, complex wine, detailed, long and true wine. 14.5°. 2039-42 Nov 2017” Five Stars John Livingstone Learmonth
“Is this the greatest Les Rocoules I’ve ever tasted? The 2017 Hermitage Blanc Les Rocoules shows more structure than the 2018, informed by greater freshness and crushed stone nuances. It’s full-bodied, loaded with power and richness and possesses layers of ripe fruit, yet it remains cool and refreshing on the long, long finish. When confronted with a wine like this, words tend to fail to convey the emotion and sensations of the moment—you have to try it for yourself.” 97-99 Joe Czerwinski
“Vivid straw-yellow. A highly perfumed, powerful bouquet evokes ripe pear, peach nectar, anise, succulent flowers and saffron, while a smoky mineral note builds steadily in the glass. Sappy, seamless and finely detailed on the palate, offering densely packed orchard and pit fruit and honeysuckle flavors that are lifted and braced by a spine of dusty minerality and a hint of orange zest. Shows superb tenacity on the mineral-driven finish, leaving resonating floral and ripe orchard fruit notes behind.” 96 Josh Raynolds