Hermitage is one of 8 appellations in the Northern Rhône wine-growing region of France. (The other appellations are; Côte Rôtie, Cornas, Saint-Péray, Crozes-Hermitage, Condrieu, Château-Grillet, and Saint Joseph.) The appellation is known for producing some of the most sought after Syrah wines. But it is Hermitage’s white wines made from Marsanne and Roussanne that are equally prized as rare, age-worthy, and food-friendly.
This month the French Winophiles are exploring the wines of France’s Northern Rhône. Join us on Twitter, Saturday, April 18th, at 11:00 AM ET for our chat. More great articles from the French Winophiles can be found at the bottom of this post.
Fast Facts About Hermitage
- The appellation is tiny, with just 321 acres of planted vineyards. In a good vintage, average production is 55,000 cases.
- The best vineyards are located on the steep rocky slopes of the famous Hermitage Hill with southern exposure.
- The climate is continental.
- The terroir is made up of granite, various stones, limestone, iron, sand, quartz, and clay soils. It is the granite and decomposing granite that is attributed to the character and style of Hermitage wines.
- Syrah is the only red grape variety permitted in Hermitage, accounting for more than 93% of the total wine produced in the appellation. The two sole white grape varieties are Marsanne and Roussanne.
- It is permitted for producers to add up to 15% of white grapes to their red wines. It is seldom done.
- Vineyard size is restricted by French law. The natural boundaries of the appellation limit expansion, resulting in limited production, high demand, and higher prices.
- Acclaimed Hermitage producers are; Jaboulet, JL Chave, E. Guigal, and Chapoutier. Bottles of their wines have sold for $2000-$15,000.
Source: The Wine Cellar Insider
Aromas and Flavors: Apricot, peach, quince, pear, baked apple, melon, mandarin orange, honeysuckle, acacia, thyme, pine, green olive, cinnamon, musk, beeswax, honey, almond, marzipan, and hazelnut.
Structure: Dry, medium to full body, lower acidity, and moderate to high alcohol.
Hermitage Marsanne wines are known to be full-bodied, rich, and sometimes with an oily characteristic.
My Tasting Notes
2015 Cave de Tain “Grand Classique” Hermitage Blanc, Hermitage, Northern Rhône
13.5% abv | $90.00 average price | 100% Marsanne
Cave de Tain is located in Tain l’ Hermitage and was founded in 1933 by Louis Gambert de Loche. Today it is a cooperative of winemakers with over 50 acres of owned vineyards in the Hermitage appellation with a state-of-the-art winery. Cave de Tain is known for its quality value wines.
Viticulture: Vines are an average of 50+ years old. Vineyard parcels are south-facing on alluvial terraces and loess. Yields of just over two tones/acre.
Vinification: Cold-clarified for 24-48 hours. Partial barrel fermentation, with the balance of fermentation on stainless steel. Matured for eight months on the lees in 400L French oak barrels with regular bâtonnage.
Medium yellow-gold in color. Medium(+) bodied and medium acidity. Aromas of beeswax, apricot, hazelnut, and musk. On the palate, mandarin orange, pear, and a hint of pine on the finish. A beautiful balance of body and acidity.
The medium(+) bodied and rich flavored Hermitage Marsanne pairs well with the Shrimp in Curry Coconut Broth (recipe below). The rich coconut milk base and shrimp texture mimic the same elements in the wine. The curry paste is mild, not to elevate the alcohol perception in the wine, but adds a balanced contrasting flavor dimension.
Roasted Chicken with Fennel and Clementines (recipe here) also pairs well with the Marsanne. The weight of both the dish and wine were in balance. The roasted chicken and fennel were a complement to the corresponding texture components in the wine. The orange notes in the wine highlighted the clementines in the dish.
Serve with a medium to full bodied Marsanne.
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 strips lime rind
- 1 lb. large cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
In a 2 qt. saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the curry paste, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, brown sugar, and lime rind, whisk to combine. Simmer, uncovered for about 3 minutes.
Add the shrimp and frozen peas, heat until warm about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Discard lime rinds.
Serve in bowls and garnish with cilantro.
More articles from the French Winophiles on wines from the Northern Rhône ~
- Cindy from Grape Experience shares “Strength and Power Meet Balance and Elegance in Syrah from the Northern Rhone”
- Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm presents “To Syrah with Love”
- Lauren from Swirling Dervish explores “Old World Syrah from the Northern Rhone: 2016 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click presents “A View of Northern Rhone’s Saint Joseph through Three Wines”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass shares “Crozes-Hermitage: A gateway to Northern Rhône wine (#Winophiles)”
- Jill from L’Ocassion tells us “How France’s Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône Valleys Differ”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator writes about “In These Times, Drink from Deep in The Cellar: Two from Northern Rhone’s St Joseph’s #Winophiles“
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles explores “Finding connections in the Northern Rhône #Winophiles”
- Susannah from Avvinare writes about “Virtually visiting Crozes-Hermitage through Chapoutier’s Wine”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures With Camilla shares “Chicken Chasseur + Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2016”
- Nicole at Somm’s Table presents “A Simple Spring Lamb Feast with Maison Nicolas Perrin Crozes-Hermitage”
- Jane from Always Ravenous shares “A Taste of Hermitage Marsanne”
- Martin from Enoflyz writes about “Looking For Value in Northern Rhône? Look For Crozes-Hermitage!”
- Lynn from Savor The Harvest presents “Exploring Treasures of the Northern Rhone #Winophiles”
- Terri from Our Good Life shares “Hey Syrah, Syrah, whatever will be, will be”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Exploring Côte-Rôtie – Syrahs With A Twist”