Hermitage wine comes from a tiny parcel of the Northern Rhône – barely more than 300 acres of vines – yet it has an outsized reputation. Grapes were first planted on the southern side of this granite hill in the Roman era, and wines from what would become the Hermitage appellation went on to become favorites of aristocrats from Thomas Jefferson to Louis XIV and the Russian czars.
Full-bodied, complex, lush and tannic, Hermitage reds are most often made from Syrah, though regulations permit a small addition of white Roussanne or Marsanne. Big, concentrated flavors include raspberry, blackcurrant, pepper and spice. Big tannins reward long cellaring, although most modern Hermitage wines can be enjoyed immediately upon release.
Hermitage white wines, equally celebrated and age-worthy, make up about one quarter of the region’s production. Made with Roussane and Marsanne, these wines offer evolving flavors of peaches, apricots and hazelnuts with a rich and lingering finish.