Imposing in its stature, Hermitage holds sway. Unpretentious, powerful, indestructible.Christophe Tassan
A legendary cru... Over centuries, this mythical cru has built its reputation on a single hill, and an epic history. In the beginning, the hill was home to a hermitage founded by Gaspard de Stérimberg in 1224. A knight of Blanche of Castille returning from the Albigensian Crusade, and weary of bloodshed, chose to take refuge from the world on the summit of this granite hill. Soon joined by others, the community began to plant vines...
A charming tale, but one that overlooks the fact that the hermitage owes only its name to the hermit: the vineyard has existed since ancient times with the famous wines of Vienne. The unique “straw wine” that has regained favour with some winemakers is also the direct descendent of Gallo-Roman winemaking techniques...
The vineyard’s perfect location on the left-bank of the Rhône is known for its exposure to the sun, the influence of the Mediterranean, and for being sheltered from the northerly winds. This harmony between the soils and the exposure are perfect for Syrah that, in the area’s red crus, finds the perfect expression of its strength. This balance is also reflected in the tannins that oscillate between strength and finesse.
The appellation also produces light and golden white wines that are characterized by floral notes with a touch of vanilla, and nutty aromas dominated by roasted almonds... Finally, the Hermitage cru can produce incredibly rare straw wines, made from the appellation’s white grape varieties.
The red wine, made using Syrah, can contain up to 15% Roussanne and Marsanne, and is a deep ruby red colour. As it ages, this strong wine, meaty and robust, acquires a surprising roundness and flexibility. Ageing incredibly well, the best vintages become finer and more harmonious over time, developing exquisite notes of violet, spices, and blackcurrant.
The Hermitage white wines, made from Marsanne and Roussane grapes, display a wonderful yellow colour and are of a rare smoothness. They develop the creamy, honeyed aromas of hazelnut, peach, and apricot, and may even reveal scents of iris, narcissus, and linden. They can be kept for decades.
The straw wines are mostly made from very old Marsanne vines, whose grapes are harvested at the peak of their ripeness. They display a deep straw-yellow colour, and produce velvety aromas of nuts, honey, and caramel with a hint of spice.
Appreciated even by the Romans who knew it as “Vienne wine” (like that of Côte-Rôtie), the Hermitage’s wines were later known as “St Christopher’s hill wines”, after the chapel dedicated to the Saint. It would seem that the name “Hermitage” appeared only later, in the 17th century, in memory of the knight Henri Gaspard de Sterimberg who, upon his return from the Albigenisan Crusades, decided to live as a hermit on the hill granted to him by Anne of Castille, the Queen of Spain. He replanted the vineyard that would become known as first Ermitage, and then Hermitage.
This was only the beginning of its success: under the reign of Louis XIV, Hermitage was the preferred wine of the Tsars of Russia... Famous lovers of the wine form a formidable list that includes notables such as Henry IV, Boileau, Louis XIII and Louis XIV, Nicolas II, and Alexandre Dumas. Hermitage was awarded AOC status in 1937.
View the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)1937Birth of AOC Hermitage
The AOC vineyard is spread over three local authority areas in the Drôme: Tail-l’Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Larnage, on the left-bank of the Rhône..
Mediterranean climate. Sheltered from northerly winds, most of the hillsides are south-facing and receive good exposure to the sun.
This historic terroir is composed of granite sands covered with mica schist and gneiss, as well as beaches of round alluvial stones. The Hermitage hill can be divided into three sections, starting in the west, on the left-bank. The first section is the Bessards: a terroir with very uneven granite soils. This is mainly considered to be the terroir that produces the appellaton’s reds. It is also the hillside where the Hermitage is found, as well as the famous Hermite’s vineyard.
Then, the central part is split in two: on the upper section, known as Méal, lies the limestone and silica soil with a pebbly surface. It produces the appellation’s most sun-kissed wines as it is south-facing. At the base, known as Greffieux, the earth, resulting from gulley erosion, is more fertile.
Finally, the Murets and Dionniers areas are covered in clay soil on a much steeper incline. The east is known as a good white wine producing terroir.
surface area136 hectares
Total production3 640 hl
- 76% Red
- 24% White
Sales4 196 hectolitres
Export*30% exported abroad
Average yield achieved27 hl/ha
*Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2013