An Hermitage Deal for the Ages

Marcel Guigal has always contended that Hermitage is one of the Rhône’s three greatest terroirs (the other two being Châteauneuf du Pape and, of course, Côte Rôtie).

And, while Marcel has been responsible for some of the finest examples of Hermitage over the past half-century, he long dreamed of owning prime plots there, for the chance to make an Hermitage at the same lofty level as his single-vineyard Côte Rôties.

That opportunity finally came with the 2000 purchase of the de Vallouit and Grippat domaines, providing Guigal with old-vine holdings in four of Hermitage’s best climats.

And while this has led to the creation of the extraordinary Ermitage Ex-Voto, a wine the equal of Marcel’s Côte Rôtie crus, it has also raised his excellent Hermitage classique to an exciting new level.

Reaching for the Stars
Keys to the 2010’s fabulous quality are Guigal’s prime holdings and a great vintage. When Marcel bought de Vallouit and Grippat, he acquired 40 to 90-year-old Syrah vines in four of the hill’s top lieux-dits—Greffieux, L’Hermite, Murets and, the greatest of all, Bessards.

The last was particularly important—Bessard’s granite-derived structure is widely considered essential for a blended “Grand Hermitage” and Marcel agrees; in fact, before acquiring vines there, he admitted to Rhone Renaissance author Remington Norman that “I would like most of it to be from Bessards, but it isn’t!”

And in the historic 2010 vintage, a year of low yields that gave the top producers the opportunity to fashion heroically rich, transparent and long-lived wines, it’s clear that Guigal was aspiring to far greater heights with his Hermitage classique.

While the 2010 Ex-Voto contains about one-third Bessards, the “regular” cuvée has even more, a full 40%, balanced with an equal proportion of Greffieux, and 10% each of L’Hermite and Murets. Aged for three years in barrel, half new and half one-year-old, all from Guigal’s own cooperage, if offers compelling evidence that Marcel has succeeded in his quest.

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