Almost all the producers of Hermitage from that spectacular but just-one-hillside wine district in the Rhône valley – famous for centuries – all came together this week in London so we could taste almost everything from the hill, in one go. Amazing really, because they are all competitors and I assume that, as is normal in France, they all hate each other. But here they were in one room. Couldn’t be missed.
For centuries Hermitage was considered one of France’s three great regions; Bordeaux, smaller Burgundy and very small Hermitage – there are single chateaux in Bordeaux that have more vines than all of Hermitage. It’s pricey wine of course but these days top Hermitage prices are at least £500 a bottle below the top Bordeaux or Burgundy. Why? Most of the world hasn’t caught on yet. They will soon. Then … Whooosh! Buy now.
There were no duds at all. Different styles but not a single wine I’d wish to avoid. We buy bits and pieces from several of these guys but our main supplier has long been the Coop that sits at the base of the hill; The Cave de Tain. We go back long way. So I go up to them and say “Hi! I’m Tony Laithwaite”. Blank look. ‘‘Remember me?“ “No!”
And they’d just had the biggest order in years from us! 2000 bottles! That’s huge in Hermitage. However, deflation of TL apart, really pleased that their wines – both white and red compared well with anything in the room. Try them. And Yann Chave’s too. He wasn’t present at the tasting but then he doesn’t really need it. For me he’s the region’s star. And his Dad knew me well…even remembered me! That counts.