"This is clearly the finest Crozes-Hermitage I have ever tasted. Only 4,000 bottles were produced. In essence, it is as good as, if not better than, most other producers' Hermitage. It offers thrilling levels of cassis fruit intermingled with aromas of licorice, smoke, flowers, and powdered stone. Extremely full and dense, this is a compelling example of what Crozes-Hermitage can achieve. Last tasted 6/96.
Most of what the Chapoutier firm produces from Crozes-Hermitage is from purchased grapes.
In 1994, Michel Chapoutier launched a luxury cuvee of Crozes-Hermitage, Les Varonnieres, from a low-yielding, old parcel of vines in Le Chassis, a vineyard covered with large cailloux roules that resemble the football-sized stones that carpet much of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. The debut vintage of Les Varonnieres immediately established Chapoutier as the reference point for Crozes-Hermitage. It is superior even to the top cuvees from Alain Graillot and Paul Jaboulet's Domaine de Thalabert. Although not much is made (about 335 cases), Les Varonnieres demonstrates what can be achieved when a wine is made from old vines, tiny yields, and a minimally interventionist winemaking philosophy-there is no fining or filtration after a year in new oak casks."