Hermitage Wine

Hermitage Wine, Northern Rhone: Styles, Best Bottles, Prices (2024)

by Elaine Lau

Home to some of the most age-worthy red and white French wines, the prestigious Hermitage appellation in Northern Rhône is often uttered in the same breath as the famous Cote Rotie and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine regions.

Hermitage is best known as the birthplace of the succulent Syrah grape

Let’s explore everything about Hermitage wine - Hermitage wine styles, 10 best bottles, investing in Hermitage wine, some delicious food pairings.

We’ll also talk about the different soils of Hermitage, how Hermitage wine is made, and the history of Hermitage wine.

Further reading

Hermitage Wine Styles: Tastes And Characteristics

The Hermitage appellation (earlier known as “Ermitage”) produces 3 distinct wine styles: 

1. Hermitage Rouge

Hermitage Rouge

Primarily produced from the Syrah grape, Hermitage Rouge is red wine sourced from the granite and clay soils of the Hermitage appellation.   

In addition to Syrah, the AOC regulations also allow 15% white grapes (Marsanne and Roussanne) in Hermitage Rouge wines.

They have a deep red color with leather and berry aromas, and black fruit and iron flavors.

2. Hermitage Blanc

Hermitage Blanc

It is a dry white wine made predominantly from the Marsanne grape. Some winemakers add the Roussanne grape variety in the blend. 

Hermitage Blanc has remarkable freshness with honeysuckle, acacia blossom, and oak notes.

3. Vins de Paille

Vins de Paille

Vin de Paille is a straw wine made from Marsanne and Roussanne grapes. The grapes are sun-dried on straw mats which concentrates the grape juice, producing a sweet white wine.

It has balanced acidity with honey and candied almond flavors and a beguiling aroma of yellow fruit. 

Top 10 Hermitage Wine Bottles To Buy In 2024

These are some of the best Hermitage wine bottles:

1. 1990 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage 'Cuvee Cathelin' ($12,658)

1990 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage 'Cuvee Cathelin'

This Northern Rhône wine has cassis, truffles, and leather flavors. Expect a vibrant bouquet of violets and smoked meat. 

2. 2015 M. Chapoutier Ermitage 'L'Ermite Blanc' ($757)

2015 M. Chapoutier Ermitage 'L'Ermite Blanc'

This Michel Chapoutier white wine has minerals and mandarin flavors. Aromas of stone and honey permeate the nose.

3. 1978 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage ($2,923)

1978 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage

This bold Syrah wine has leather, blackberry, and pepper notes with smoke and truffle aromas.

4. 2015 M. Chapoutier Ermitage l'Ermite ($531)

2015 M. Chapoutier Ermitage l'Ermite

This red wine has hints of graphite from the vineyard and violet on the nose. The palate expresses smoky meat and minerals.

5. 1989 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon ($578) 

1989 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon

This Northern Rhône Syrah has a bouquet of herbs, pepper, and leather. The palate is rich with roasted meats and pepper notes.  

6. 1990 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Vin de Paille ($845) 

1990 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Vin de Paille

This straw wine has notes of apricot and an earthiness from the granite soil of the appellation. Expect some acidity and a toffee nose.

7. 1978 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc ($1,347)

1978 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc

This dry wine has a yellow color with cinnamon and banana aromas. The body has diesel and pineapple hints with a slightly oily mouthfeel.

8. 2018 Brunel de la Gardine Hermitage ($40)

2018 Brunel de la Gardine Hermitage

This Syrah has a cherry color and berry aromas and some earthy tones on the palate.

9. 2015 Domaine Lombard Hermitage ($42)

2015 Domaine Lombard Hermitage

This complex red wine is fruity and tannic with spicy fruit aromas.

10. 2017 Cave de Tain Hermitage Nobles Rives Blanc ($49)

2017 Cave de Tain Hermitage Nobles Rives Blanc

The bouquet of this white Hermitage has smoky and earthy notes. The palate is bursting with grapefruit and apple.

Investing In Hermitage Wines

Hermitage Wine

The Syrahs from this Northern Rhône appellation start to reach their peak in 10-30 years, and the best ones can age for over 40 years!

Even the whites from this appellation can age for 15-20 years.

The age-worthy wines from the Hermitage appellation are also well acclaimed among top wine critics like Robert Parker. 

That’s why these bottles show commendable price appreciation. For example, the 1990 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage 'Cuvee Cathelin' rose from $9,974 in 2020 to $12,569 in 2021 - a 25% increase in a year.

Hermitage wines also perform well at auctions. Six bottles of 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle sold at a Christie’s auction for over $100,000 in 2017.

These investment-worthy wine bottles will be a perfect addition to your wine cellar. 

Vinovest’sstate-of-the-art AI-based wine investing platform can help you purchase, store, and sell rare and authentic Hermitage wine in just a few clicks.

Now, which is the best dish to pair with your Hermitage wine?

Food Pairings With Hermitage Wine

Hermitage wine with steak and potatoes

Here are some versatile food pairings with your Hermitage wine. 

  • Hermitage Rouge: grilled beef, veal, pork, and stews
  • White Hermitage: creamy seafood dishes like lobster or crab
  • Straw wine: fruit or honey-based desserts

Let’s also look at the region’s vineyards, winemaking techniques, and a bit of its history.

Vineyards And Terroir Of The Hermitage Wine Region

Crozes Hermitage

This Northern Rhône appellation has 140 hectares of vineyards - only 40 hectares more than Château Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac

The area is called “Hill of Hermitage” and the appellation size is bound by French law. 

It enjoys a more temperate and slightly cooler climate than the rest of the Rhone Valley. The major vineyards of the region include:

  • Les Bessards: This Hermitage Hill vineyard is made up of granite soils and produce some of the most tannic Syrah wines. The famous town of Tain l'Hermitage sits between the vineyard and the Rhone river.
  • Le Méal: The Le Méal vineyard is situated east of Les Bessards and has granite soils with some clay influences. Le Méal is warmer than Bessards and produces riper and fruitier Hermitage wines.
  • L’Hermite: The L’Hermite vineyard is located atop Hermitage Hill in Northern Rhône and surrounds the famous chapel of St Christopher. The vine plantings benefit from the granite soils with clay influences. 

The red wines produced here are acidic and structured. Winemakers often grow white grapes in parts with more clay and less granite. 

  • Les Greffieux: The Les Greffieux vineyard is situated below Le Meal and has granite and clay soils. Greffuex produces refined and aromatic Hermitage wines with subtle tannins.

How Is Hermitage Wine Made?

French Oak Barrels

The winemaking process of Hermitage wine depends mainly on the winery. But, here are some common practices:

  • Destemming: While some winemakers destem only a few grapes, others like to destem 100% grape bunches, Syrah and Marsanne, to produce softer wines. 
  • Fermentation: Red Hermitage wines are fermented in large oak casks or demi-muids. 

Hermitage Blanc goes through malolactic fermentation in large oak casks or stainless steel vats. 

Vins de Paille wines ferment in 100% new oak barrels. 

  • Aging: Most estates age their Hermitage Rouge in 30% or less new French oak barrels for around 18 months. However, M Chapoutier goes for 100% new oak.

White Hermitage wines are usually aged on lees for 8-12 months.

History Of Hermitage Wine

Northern Rhone

The Greeks planted the first vine plantings in this Northern Rhône Valley appellation in 600BC.

However, the prestige of Hermitage wines can be traced back to the 17th century when it became the official court wine of King Louis XIV. By the early 18th century this French wine reached England and its finest bottles were sold at the price of First Growth Bordeaux.

From dealing with the phylloxera epidemic of 1874 to facing the consequences of World War I, the Hermitage winemakers have come a long way.

This wine region is home to Michelas Saint Jemms, Paul Jaboulet Ainé, Marc Sorrel, and E Guigal, who have been producing great wine bottles for over 200 years.

Add A Bottle Of An Age-Worthy Hermitage Wine To Your Collection

Hermitage Wine

A bottle of delicious, complex, and age-worthy Hermitage wine is perfect for your wine cellar. 

If you need help picking a fantastic bottle of Hermitage, Pinot Noir, or any other fine wine, check out the Vinovest website to discover more about buying, selling, and investing in rare and authentic wines.

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