2009 Rhône – the great Hermitage of Marc Sorrel

“…where 2009 is great (and it truly is) is in the northern Rhône…I can say that without a doubt it is the finest overall vintage in the north since 1999, and probably since 1990.” Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #191, October 2010

This was our first, literally refreshing, appointment up North during a week devoted to tasting the warm 2009 vintage of the Rhône Valley. Marc Sorrel has been developing an excellent reputation for his classic Syrah-dominated wines over recent vintages, so our expectations were high and we were not disappointed.

If only all vignerons were as straightforward as Marc Sorrel; we arrived fashionably late at his property, briefly discussed and tasted four wines with him and then went on our way to the next visit within half an hour and, once more, back on schedule.

He is happy with his lot; he owns four hectares of mature vineyards, mainly in Hermitage, with a small holding in Crozes. He places great emphasis on work in the vineyards, with resulting fruit being allowed to shine through the use of traditional winemaking, rather than through modern polish and extraction.

White Wines

2009 Hermitage Blanc Les Rocoules
£360 per case of 6 bottles in bond
90% Marsanne and 10% Roussannne from a single 60 year old vineyard planted on limestone. The next domaine we visited suggested that, along with JL Chave’s, this is the best white Hermitage currently being produced. It was truly special, with notes of dried apricot, beeswax and anise. Intense and broad, it will develop gracefully in the bottle. Drink: 2012 – 2020

Red Wines

2009 Hermitage Rouge Cuvée Classique
£360 per case of 12 bottles in bond
A blend of fruit from the vineyards of Bessards, Greffieux and Plantiers, with an average vine age of 40 years, we don’t normally buy this cuvée. However, this year it was impossible to resist: beautiful to look at in the glass, with vibrant scents of violet, cassis and cream. Fine-grained tannins and deep, almost savoury notes are balanced by an attractive freshness. M. Sorrel stated this is the best ‘Classique’ he has ever produced.  Drink: 2014 – 2024

2009 Hermitage Le Gréal
£360 per case of 6 bottles in bond
90% of this wine comes from a 60 year old, south-facing parcel of the famous Méal vineyard. Initially restrained on the nose, aeration releases notes of blackberry and wet coal. The palate is less creamy than its little brother, with a ripe tannic frame, smoky, blue fruit and a long mineral finish. This is a great wine with a long life ahead.  Drink: 2015 – 2030

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