Maison Nicolas Perrin Hermitage Blanc 2008
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The story of Maison Nicolas Perrin is that of two families who come from the two opposite ends of the Rhone valley, North and South.
In the North, Nicolas Jaboulet, who grew up on the hillsides of Hermitage, and the Perrin fmaily who has been in the southern Rhone, primarily in the prestigious appellation of Chateauneuf du pape, since the beginning of the 20th century.
This geographical reunion finds its meaning in the phrase "Axis Mundi." These latin words stand for the 4 cardinal points and symbolize the Cotes de Rhone region divided between the Northern (Septentrional) and the Southern (Meridional) appellations and right and left banks of the Rhone river.
One of the smallest and most important Syrah regions of northern Rhone, Hermitage is practically one single south-facing slope of crushed granite, thinly covered with varied, yet well-charted soil types. Many climats (well identified parcels) exist within Hermitage and while some smaller producers make single climat Syrahs, some larger ones blend to make one balanced expression of the appellation.
Though the AC regulations allow the addition of up to 15% white grapes to a red Hermitage, in practice it is usually made from Syrah alone. Winemaking is pretty traditional—or you might say historic—with hot fermentations and aging in older barrels of various sizes. The best wines, characterized by deep, dense and sexy flavors of black fruit, cocoa, licorice and tobacco, have massive textures and a solid 10-20 years aging potential.
The region of Hermitage is totally enclosed; the only place it could go really is to literally fall down its own hill into the city of Tain or the Rhone River. Soil erosion is a problem and terraces exist alongside the hill in order to keep the earth in place. Crozes-Hermitage encloses the region entirely to its north and south.
While Hermitage seems synonymous with some of the best Syrah on the planet, actually about one third of the wine produced here comes from white grapes. The full, lush and robust Marsanne or the less common, but almost more charming, Roussanne create wonderful whites in which the best have great potential for aging, like the reds.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia.