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2012 Hermitage Rouge “La Pierrelle”

Barruol / Lynch

2012 Hermitage <i>Rouge</i> “La Pierrelle” Barruol / Lynch - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
Hermitage is one of those few places that hold mythical status in every French person’s wine imagination. While most of France has never had the opportunity to taste Romanée-Conti, or Château Petrus, or a wine from the hill of Hermitage, almost everyone seems to know these three places and hold them as the nec plus ultra for Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Rhône, respectively. Adding to the celebrity of Hermitage is the north–south highway that descends from Paris to Marseille, cuts just below the slope, and serves as a sort of marker for vacation goers driving south to Provence that they’ve arrived in the hallowed Le Sud. I don’t have leads for you to score any Romanée-Conti or Petrus, but you do have this rare chance to get your hands on some Hermitage. I’ve never met anyone as obsessive and encyclopedic about this slope as Louis Barruol, born in Gigondas but with his heart in Hermitage. Memories of the great Hermitage producers and wines of yesteryear drive him to work tirelessly to recreate the magic only this terroir can produce. This cuvée, from the celebrated La Pierrelle parcel at the top of the hill, is intense, intriguing, rustic, and grand, with an utterly unique and long finish that Barruol describes as “crushed rock and cold ash.”
For those yet uninitiated to the pleasure of Hermitage, or those familiar with the Greats, none will be disappointed by this classic. –Chris Santini
Vintage: 2012
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Syrah
Appellation: Hermitage
Country: France
Region: Northern Rhône
Producer: Barruol / Lynch
Winemaker: Louis Barruol
Vineyard: 30 - 50 years
Soil: Granite
Aging: Aged on average for 15 months in barrel, no new barrels - barrels are 1 or 2 years old
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Alcohol: 13%

More from this Producer or Region

About Northern Rhône

On the wines of the northern Rhône, Kermit wrote in Adventures on the Wine Route, “The best combine a reminder of the sunny Mediterranean with the more self-conscious, intellectual appeal of the great Burgundies farther north, which is not a bad combination.” Like the wines of Provence, Burgundy, and Beaujolais, Kermit was introduced to this region by Richard Olney, an American ex-pat and friend of Alice Waters.

Though technically part of the same region as the southern Rhône and connected by the Rhône River, much differentiates the north from the south. The climate is continental and in general cooler than that Mediterranean climate of the south. The appellations are significantly smaller: Cornas has less than 300 acres planted to vine and Hermitage around 345. The area planted is minute when compared to Gigondas (3,000+ acres) and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (nearly 8,000 acres). Many of the great wines come from steep hillside vines—terraced during Roman times. It was clear to the Romans that great wine could be made here and DNA evidence now shows that Syrah is in fact indigenous to the Rhône.

The terroir is predominantly granite and lastly, blends of the wines are mostly single grape varieties. Only four grape varieties are permitted in AOC blends: Syrah, Viogner, Marsanne, and Roussanne (as compared to the 19 permitted varieties allowed in Châteauneuf). The red wines are nearly all Syrah and Condrieu and Château Grillet must be 100% Viogner. The whites of Hermitage, Saint Joseph, Saint Péray, and Crozes-Hermitages may only be blends of Marsanne and Roussanne.

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Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.

Inspiring Thirst, page 312


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