m. chapoutier, hermitage, l'ermite blanc 2018
Another truly flawless wine from this dream team is the 2018 Ermitage L’Ermite Blanc, which comes from a vineyard located at the top of Hermitage Hill and was brought up in 20-25% new demi-muids. Offering a magical bouquet of liqueur of rock, quince, poached pears, orange blossom, and honeysuckle, it's a powerful, super-rich, expressive, full-bodied white that could come from nowhere else in the world. It's approachable today (it needs plenty of air) yet won't hit prime for another 7-8 years or so.
This is rich and piercing at the same time, with jasmine, peach, mango and yellow apple fruit flavors forming a juicy, concentrated core offset by racy chamomile, quinine and honeysuckle notes that add considerable detail throughout. A fresh salted butter element echoes through the finish as the fruit, floral and mineral aspects meld seamlessly. A stunner.
This has a gentle, almond nougat aroma and a touch of rhubarb with gentle honeycomb edging to the pear and mango fruit. It's still distinctly saline and buzzing with energy, but more immediately drinkable than a more classic recent vintage of L'Ermite Blanc. The yields were 32hl/ha, very high for this domaine, and it doesn't currently provide the impact of more concentrated, lower yielding years. From some pre-phylloxera vines from 1860. Michel explains that the soils on this lieu-dit are ‘granilite’ - granite with a touch of calcium - a rare kind of alkaline granite. 80% matured in demi-muid, 15% new oak; the rest in stainless steel barrels. Drinking Window 2020 - 2035.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Chapoutier's colossal 2018 Ermitage l'Ermite Blanc is a candidate for a perfect score, marrying crisp, stony, structural elements with an off-the-charts level of pineapple, citrus and melon fruit. Full-bodied yet fresh, round yet focused, it's a somehow harmonious expression of several seeming contradictions and should amaze drinkers for decades to come. As has become my habit, I scheduled a full morning with Michel Chapoutier and his team to taste through the company's wines from the Northern Rhône. The fascination here with individual wines of terroir means that the number of bottlings has grown considerably over the years, and the session always includes wines from several partnerships Chapoutier has with other personalities, like renowned chefs in the Pic Chapoutier and Michael Alléno and Michel Chapoutier wines (reviews listed separately). It was fascinating to sample the 2017s and 2018s in such close proximity, as some cuvées/appellations seemed to have fared better in 2017, while others look potentially better in 2018. At the very top end, you can't go wrong with any of the sélections parcellaires from either vintage.