Éric Texier > The Wines > Northern Rhône > Hermitage

Hermitage Label

If you were to travel back to Paris in 1828 and visit Nicolas, a very famous wine merchant, Hermitage would be one of the most expensive wines on the list. Even as expensive as such illustrious wines of Bordeaux as Lafite-Rothschild or Haut-Brion. In fact, until the mid 1800s, Hermitage was often shipped in bulk to Bordeaux and used to "strengthen" the wines.

-100% Syrah 
-Harvest is usually early October
-A.O.C Established 4 March 1937 with 132 HA in production

-Vines average 60 years old
-Extremely steep, terraced terrain
-Soil contains decomposed black granite and sandy gravel

Vintage Notes


Wine  Éric's Hermitage is very rich, very concentrated and very powerful. Deep purple to nearly black in color, this wine has aromas of cassis, smoke and spring flowers with a slight undertone of cedar. A perfect balance between rich tannins and crisp acidity, this wine will age well for 30 or more years.


Vineyards The Les Bessards vineyard is located on the largest of Hermitage's 3 granite hills and is the steepest and most westerly section of Hermitage with soil of decomposed black granite and sandy gravel. The vineyard has a limited number of ancient terraces with the vines running perpendicular to the slope. The Chapel of St. Christopher is located slighly east of this 100% Syrah section of Hermitage.

Terroir  Located just a few kilometers north of the small city of Valence, directly on the banks of the Rhône river, Hermitage is made up of three distinct hills. Les Bessards is on the western edge of the largest and steepest hill. One can find L'Hermite, le Méal and Les Greffieux directly east of Les Bessards on the main hill. The other two hills are to the east of Les Bessards and each progressively smaller than the main dome.

With a southern exposure, Hermitage is subjected to intense sunlight and the dark granite soil is retains the summer heat, allowing for full and even ripeness. And the steep south facing hillside is naturally protected from the fierce gusts of le mistral.

History According to the acclaimed wine writer and historian John Livingstone-Learmonth, the Greeks first brought vines to Hermitage around 500 B.C. The Romans are also known to have cultivated vines in Hermitage as Pliny the Elder mentions the wines of Tegna (the Roman name for Tain-l'Hermitage) in his Natural History. In fact, many local historians believe the vineyards of Hermitage to be the oldest in the Rhône Valley, and therefore the oldest in France.

The name Hermitage, according to legend, comes from the French word "ermite" which means hermit. Gaspard de Sterimberg, a wounded 13th century crusader seeking refuge, built the Chapel of St. Christopher at the top of the largest domed hill and lived the rest of his life in self-imposed seclusion. The Chapel was later rebuilt and can be seen today from the town of Tain l'Hermitage 200 meters below.

Well known in 17th century England, the wines of Hermitage are referenced by Thomas Shadwells in his 1680 play The Woman-Captain. During the early 1800's the the Russian Imperial Court considered Hermitage a favorite wine. And Thomas Jefferson, who some say was America's first wine connoisseur, appreciated the fine wines of Hermitage, writing that Red Hermitage has a "full body, dark purple color...exquisite flavor and perfume which is compared to that of rasberry."


Hermitage 1999

1999 was a great year for the Northern Rhône - some consider it the best year of the decade. This is a large, monolithic wine that will be well served by at least six years of aging.


Blend: 100% Syrah
Alcohol: 13% by volume


Suggested Aging: 5 to 30 or more years
Cases Produced: 75


© 2003 Éric Texier