Heart & Soul

The most iconic examples of Hermitage have always had one thing in common: they're based on the fruit from Les Bessards, Hermitage's greatest section.

Now nearing 85, Gerard Chave is perhaps the lone surviving envoy of Hermitage's traditional past. He once told John Livingstone-Learmonth: “Les Bessards is our essential climat—you can't make a Grand Hermitage without it.”

The Jaboulet family always agreed, relying on Les Bessards to give the legendary 1952, 1961 and 1978 La Chapelles their brooding power. It is a lieu dit which, in the words of Robert Parker, produces Hermitage that is “the richest, most concentrated and powerful of the appellation.”

So, in 1990, when the ancient house of Delas decided to bring their Hermitage cuvées up to the level of the legendary vintages of Chave and La Chapelle, they turned to their spectacular holding of old Syrah vines in the very heart of Les Bessards.

So prized is Delas' Les Bessards plot that, when the firm was forced to sell many of their vaunted holdings in the 1970s and '80s due to financial difficulties, it was the one site they refused to part with.

The results have been riveting: today Delas' Les Bessards may be the greatest pure example of the vineyard. Crafted for total transparency, John Livingston-Learmonth stamps it "STGT" (for "Soil to Glass Transfer"). While STGT may not mean much for a mediocre site, for a monumental site like Les Bessards it means the world.

Meanwhile, the Domaine des Tourette's backbone of Les Bessards—augmented by fruit from L'Hermite and Le Sabot—produces a powerfully structured, yet refined and complex Hermitage reminiscent of the mythic Chaves and La Chapelles of the past.

It is a privilege to offer the 2011 Les Bessards and 2009 and 2011 Tourettes.

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