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Over the centuries, this iconic wine has built its reputation around one very special hill, and a history wrapped in myth.

Originally, the hill was home to a hermitage founded in 1224 by Gaspard de Stérimberg. De Stérimberg was a knight of Blanche de Castile. When he returned battle-weary from the Albigensian crusade, he chose to withdraw from the world and live as a hermit at the top of this granite hill. Others soon joined him, and the new community turned to winegrowing. It’s a charming story, but overlooks the fact that Hermitage owes only its name to the hermit. The vineyard has been there since ancient times, making what the Romans called the “wines of Vienne.” The distinctive vin de paille (straw wine) now being revived by some winemakers is a direct descendant of Gallo-Roman wine making methods.

Hermitage
Flavors

Varietals & flavours

Reds are made chiefly from Syrah, and may contain up to 15% Roussanne and Marsanne. They show a deep, intense, ruby red colour. As they age, these robust, full-bodied wines become remarkably smooth and supple. They have good ageing potential of around 10 years, during which time the better vintages develop exquisite notes of violet, spice and cassis.

Whites are made from Marsanne and Roussanne, show a superb golden yellow colour and extraordinary smoothness and creamy, honeyed aromas of hazelnut, peach and apricot some going on to develop scents of iris, narcissus and lime blossom.

Combine the flavors of the Valley with AOC Hermitage

Discover the best food and wine pairing in the Rhône Valley. Specialties of the local gastronomy sublimated by wines of the region like Hermitage to thrill of pleasure the taste buds of the most greedy.

 

History

1937
1937

Birth of AOC Hermitage

The wines of Hermitage were popular with the Romans, who called them “the wines of Vienne” - just like those of Côte-Rôtie. Hermitage wines later became known as “St Christopher’s Hill wines” after the chapel dedicated to the Saint. It would seem that the name “Hermitage” appeared only later, in the 17th century, in memory of Henri Gaspard de Stérimberg, who on his return from the Albigensian Crusades in the 13th century, withdrew from the world to live as a hermit on this hill granted him by Blanche of Castile, Queen of Spain. It is said he replanted the vineyard that would become known first as Ermitage, and then Hermitage. This was just the start of its success: under the reign of Louis XIV, Hermitage was the preferred wine of the Tsars of Russia; in fact, the list of Hermitage enthusiasts is long and illustrious, and includes notables such as Henry IV, Boileau, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Nicolas II and Alexandre Dumas.

Hermitage was awarded AOC status in 1937.

Geography

Territory

The Hermitage vineyards span three communes in the Drôme: Tain-l’Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Larnage, on the left bank of the Rhône.

Climate

The climate is Mediterranean, sheltered from northerly winds. Most of the slopes face south and enjoy good sun exposure.

Soils

A particular geology

This iconic terroir is made up of granitic sand with a covering of mica-schists and gneiss with rounded alluvial pebbles closer to the riverside. The diversity of soils also explains the number of different, named plots in the appellation area, including Bessards, Greffieux, Méal, Rocoules, Beaumes etc. Hermitage hill can be subdivided into three sections. Starting from the west, on the left bank, the first section is Les Bessards, a hilly granite terroir considered to be the appellation’s “red” terroir. This is the slope where the eponymous Hermitage can be found, and also the famous L’Ermite vineyard. The central section is divided into two parts. The upper part, Le Méal, has limestone and flint soils with a surface covering of rounded pebbles, and its south-facing vineyards produce wines bursting with sunshine. In the lower section, Les Greffieux, the soils are shaped by gully erosion, and are relatively more fertile. Finally, the Murets and Dionnières parcels have a clay soil and far gentler slopes. They lie more to the east, and are superb white wine terroirs.

Key figures

Key figures of the appellation

70% red
30% white

Couleurs

38 hl/ha

Rendement moyen annuel

136 ha

Superficie de production

5 156 hl

Production totale

49%

Exportation

Discover vineyard's key figures

Discover key figures

Discover the flavors of the Rhone Valley

Discover the best food and wine matches in the Rhône Valley and enjoy our recipe ideas!