Wine Wednesday: Hermitage

By: Cecily Gamba

Located around the city of Tain l’Hermitage are the two (different!) wine appellations of Hermitage and Crozes Hermitage. We have already been schooled on the region of Crozes Hermitage (read up here), so now it’s about time we focused in on the region of Hermitage.

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A tiny region of only 140 hectares, the hill of Hermitage is known as the spiritual home of the Syrah grape, and the region is cloaked in legend and mystique. Though the AOC gained it’s name in 1224, evidence points to the region producing wines much earlier than this. The Romans dubbed the wine as “Vienne wine,” and later “St Christopher’s Hill wines,” after a chapel on the hill. Legend has it that in 1224, a wounded Knight Gaspard de Stérimberg was returning home from the Albigensian Crusade. He received permission from the Queen of France to build a small refuge on the summit of the famed granite hill, and from then on, lived there as a hermit (hence, hermitage). He was eventually joined by others, and they began to replant wine grapes.

The hill of Hermitage is located on the south bank in the Northern Rhône. It’s famed granite soil is ideal for vines growing on steep terraces, as it provides something for the vines to cling to. The soil type favors the Syrah grape, which is the majority of what grows in the region. Hermitage has a continental climate, which is typical of Northern Rhône. The hillside vineyards face the sun to the south, and are protected from the northerly winds.

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As mentioned before, Syrah is the primary grape of Hermitage. It comprises 75% of the grapes grown. Marsanne and Roussanne are grown in the region as well, and up to 15% of these varietals may be blended with Syrah. These red wines tend to be earthy with notes of leather, cocoa/coffee, and red berries. They are often very tannic when they are young, and can be cellared for up to 40 years.

Try it at the girl & the fig!

Barruol & Lynch, 2016 La Pierrelle, Hermitage

"Superb expression of the terroir with personality. Rustic, earthy traditional Hermitage with hints of youthful blueberries"

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