"These wines usually flirt with perfection, which is the case with the 2000 Ermitage Cuvee de l’Oree. It boasts an amazing nose of licorice, minerals, acacia flowers, honeysuckle, and a hint of butter. Unctuously-textured and full-bodied, with great intensity and purity, yet remarkably light on its feet, it can be drunk over the next 3-4 years, then forgotten for a decade, after which it will last for 40-50 years.
Year in and year out, one of the most profound white Hermitages produced is Chapoutier’s Cuvee de l’Oree. These are controversial dry whites because they tend to taste great young, go into a funky, nearly oxidized stage, and re-emerge at age 10-15 as full-blown, waxy, honeyed, dry wines with the potential to age for 20-50 years.
This offering is typically made from exceedingly low yields of 12-15 hectoliters per hectare. Chapoutier has moved from small oak barrels to the 650-liter Burgundy barrels known as demi-muids, which are essentially the equivalent of three regular barrels.
This uncompromising offering from a young genius is not meant for consumers who want something to drink immediately. It is the essence of bio-dynamically farmed vineyard sites cropped incredibly low, given extended fermentations with indigenous yeasts, and rarely touched until it goes into the bottle unfined and unfiltered. In most vintages, the wine is not even racked off its lees, which only adds to its natural style. This is truly a remarkable wine, but for most readers, patience is the operative rule as it needs a good 8-10 years to strut its stuff.
Once moribund, over the last 12 years, this firm has become one of the reference points for nearly all the Rhone Valley appellations since the brash yet immensely talented Michel Chapoutier took over in the late eighties. The single vineyard offerings are as good as Rhone Valley wines can be. Moreover, Chapoutier continues to upgrade the quality of those wines offered in more significant quantities than the 500 or so cases each of the single vineyard offerings.
Importer: Paterno Imports, Lake Bluff, IL; tel. (847) 604-8900