As we step into the Hermitage red wines, it is worthwhile to mention that the best red wines on the hill are from a tenderloin section on the western side, whose contiguous sites most aficionados will recognize: le Méal, l’Hermite, les Bessards, and les Greffieux. All of the Sorrel red parcels are found in this area, including a family Monopoly owned site that sits at the foot of the hill below les Greffieux/Meal/l’Hermite named les Plantiers. I hadn’t heard of les Plantiers before, having visited with Chave and Chapoutier several times. As it is a monopoly, no wonder I hadn’t heard of it before……Their Hermitage rouge Classique hails from 85% les Plantiers, as well as 15% from les Bessards (which Guillaume plans on separating in the future to make a small Bessards cru bottling!). The land is flat here, a welcome relief says Guillaume after working the steeps/terraces of some of the other parcels. The soil is deep here, of particularly lime rich clay. I thought that this sh!t was ridiculously good, in a completely unexpectedly finessed fashion, like Côte Rôtie at its most aérien and delicate best, or a Burgundy-like power without weight animal. This is very much paler than the Crozes, with a dark red fruit tone, and painful weightless intensity. I would have never thought that such a finessed creature could be possible, both from a deep soiled, lower slope parcel as well as a hot year like 2018. But I guess that’s why they don’t make wine on paper…..! I’m tellin’ ‘ya, this stuff is stunningly finessed, the delicate beauty to the le Gréal’s beast…….get what you can justify, and thank me later. A little * awarded here. 12 barrels made (300 cases).
“Syrah 80% from Les Plantiers (1970, flat land, 77%), 20% from Les Bessards (late 1980s, 15%), Les Greffieux (late 1980s, 8%), destemmed, 2 week vinification, cap punched, aged 1-6 year 225 & 228-litre oak casks 16-20 months, unfined, unfiltered, 2-3 bottlings, 3,500 b” JLL
“(used 228-litre cask) bright, dark robe. Has a sweetly tuned nose, great purity of fruit, raspberry liqueur tones, black cherry, pork scratchings. The palate bears a flavour of black olives, plump content with rolling continuity, a glamorous affair here. It keeps moving with fresh pockets, the fruit very appealing, tasty, sweet-toned. This is like Right Bank Bordeaux in a sunny year, is fat, plump. 14°. 12 casks, a usual crop, this year. From 2022-23. 2042-44 Nov 2018” Four stars, John Livingstone Learmonth