Hermitage Tasting Notes
Life holds surprises even for us professionals and the tasting of the Sorrel 2007 proved to be one of those happy days. I appreciate that you will have noticed that I tend to be a red drinker – as I write more often about them- so no real surprises for you there.
Nevertheless, I was over in the Rhone valley the other weekend to participate to the 2012’s Foire des vins d’Ampuis or the Northern Rhone Wine Fair. It is not a professional only fair and it’s open from the Friday to the Monday to anyone purchasing a ticket. As its name identifies it’s located on the heart of the Cote-Rotie AOC, Ampuis.
Typically at this event you meet 35 growers or more all showing their new vintages from their appellations, so you would taste Condrieu, Rotie, St Joseph, Cornas to name but a few.
It is rather low key event but nonetheless a very friendly and the size of it gives you the ability to talk to some growers you may have not have had an opportunity to encountered before. It also has the distinct advantage of saving you some time driving between villages on small, slower roads. As a professional wine taster, I sometimes need to find these time saving devices.
Anyway, some 45 wines later, I had had enough being too hot and being crushed by the other tasters -it was a popular event despite an early start! So, having left d’Ampuis in the direction of Tournon, aiming for a lunch at the Tournesol Restaurant I had the pleasure of encountering an extensive and well-priced wine list that opened doors to a large number of regional wines and winemakers. Nice!
After studying the list extensively, we opted for an Hermitage White 2007 from Sorrel. It has been very long time since I have had the pleasure of trying a Sorrel, and between you and I, I had never really rated Sorrel’s winemaking style. However, since his son has taken over it is well worth a re-visit! (Sadly it is only in French – see http://www.marcsorrel.fr)
The 2007 Northern Rhone was quite difficult with a high acid structure, but a cracking fruit backbone which has kept the wine lively and delicious. For a white wine the acid spine is the vital ally and this is true for the Marsanne and Roussane varieties, which compose this specific wine in about the same percentages.
The vitality of the vintage and the status of the Hermitage terroir combined with the great and judicious seasoning of the oak castes gave another dimension to the Sorrel 2007.
To my astonishment, it was fresh and lively with still notes of honey but generally lifted with texture and power. The complexity on the nose and on the palate brought forward the youth of that cuvée. I would have loved to have tested the aeration process to have seen what the result could have been, as I am sure that cuvée would have benefited from its use, next time I must not be quite so rushed in my packing and hasten to remember to pack it as it is a great little traveller.
This fine wine is from the Domaine Marc Sorrel in Les Rocoules, Crozes-Hermitage in France, hence it is referred to in short hand as an Hermitage Blanc. The vines are over 50 years old and the wine is made from a blend of Marsanne (85%) and Roussanne (15% grapes) and aged for some 18 months in oak.
It will be a fine wine to lay down until somewhere between 2012 and 2024. One of the joys of wine is that we can’t tell when you should exactly open the wine as you can tell from Chris’s writing each bottle has a different story to tell over the years and no two stories are identical. If you have a story to share please let us know as we will be delighted to hear from you.