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. My thought on the 2018: 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).
“Dark red colour; the nose is reserved, but shows promise, offers a restrained aroma of black fruits, nice shafts of freshness. The palate is well themed with pure fruit, fresh tannins slotting in, plays a good harmony, is en finesse, already good to drink. There’s a good accumulation of its pure fruit on the close, red cherry there. It’s genuine, and a good example of the 2020 vintage, too. From 2024 or so. 2045-47 July 2021” Four Stars, John Livingstone Learmonth
“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
“Chiefly (90%) from Les Plantiers—a little-known lieu-dit toward the western base of the slope—with about 10% Les Bessards, Sorrel’s 2020 Hermitage looks like its customary supple, silky self, with masses of raspberry fruit, ample weight and richness and a long, elegant finish. It should drink well soon after release and evolve well for more than a decade.” 92-95 Joe Czerwinski