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100% Syrah (av age 66 years) from almost 4 hectares on the granite soils of Les Bessards, destemmed, 4-5 week vinification at up to 30-32°C in small oak vat, 1-2 daily cap punchings, aged 30-40% new, 60-70% 1-2 year old 228-litre oak casks 18-20 months, unfiltered, organic wine, first wine 1989, 7,000 b

2017 ()

(casks) dark robe; the nose has the iron strength of the granite, goes zap on that, with oak-chocolate, beef notes, the black fruits saturated, soaked. An air of damp forest floor hovers. The palate gives a thrusting, forward line of black fruits, a flavour of rampant black cherries, is charged up with layers of well ripened content. It’s a dark, upfront, no-nonsense STGT wine, from start to finish. Its cool tenor persists all through, and the finish is complete. From 2023. 2048-50 Dec 2018

2016 ()

(cask) sturdy dark red robe. The bouquet is reticent, offers a little detail, a salt, prune, rose-hip trio, has a quiet class. The palate links well to the nose, being reserved but stylish, a trim package. The dark red fruit and gras richness are elegant, while the tannins bring a harmonious increase in depth. It has good, fluid length. This has a bit of the refined Pinot in its system. From 2020. 2032-34 Nov 2017 Previously Apr 2017 ***** (cask) very dark robe. There is unusual concentration on the nose, with black fruits to the fore, blackberry with restraint, some inkiness, pulp squid, a touch of licorice. The palate kicks off on plentiful juice and assured gras with well ripened tannins in close step. The length is beau. It ends freshly, with good clack there, gusto. It’s tightly woven, intricate, with the strength of the low yield in the play. This is an interesting Pavillon, more so than the more obvious vintages due to the circumstances of the season in the vineyard. 10 hl/ha says it all. From 2022. 2040-43 Apr 2017 GB £860.24 per 6 b in bond, £290.97 per magnum in bond Mentzendorff London +44(0)207 840 3600 www.mentzendorff.co.uk


(cask) very dark, intense robe. The bouquet offers a genuine granite-inspired violet air – floral touches hover winningly over it. A bonny sweet roundness of blackberry sits within, a note of licorice also. It comes with a convex shape, is outward already – this is an unusual profile for a Bessards wine, and testifies to much sun, lots of ripeness. The palate holds nuggety black fruit, with crisp, mobile tannins running up and down. This is well defined, projects clarity despite the obvious ripeness. It is structured, a real gradual unfurler and a long-term stamina wine, a stayer. Maximum granite expression here. My second favourite 2015 of the Hermitage parcellaire wines, after Le Méal 2015. From 2021-22. 2042-45 GB £754.72 per 6 b in bond, £255.50 per magnum in bond Mentzendorff London +44(0)207 840 3600 www.mentzendorff.co.uk Apr 2016

2014 ()

(casks) deep, full robe. The bouquet brims with a surge of oak-chocolate and dark berry fruit, blackberry and blueberry. It is wide and pretty imposing. The palate is assertive right from the start, veers towards extraction, producing demanding tannins and oak as it finishes. This is a wine of effort rather than a relaxed operator. It is sturdy on the finish. Put this away until 2020, serve in a large glass. It is too full-on for me, but there will certainly be those who will be impressed by it. 2030-33  Oct 2015 


(casks) dark, full robe. There is good style in the black berry, sustained fruit aroma that lies under some correct oaking on the nose; it also has a chocolate intensity, but good lift as well – a promising start. The attack is immediately stylish, offers well balanced fruit and oak, the ripeness on the money. This is a good, true 2013: it is smoothly textured, and ends roundly and clearly, the tannins smooth. Good pedigree, lovely juice as it closes. From mid-2018. 2033-35  GB £696/6 bots in bond Berry Brothers 0800 280 2440 +44(0)207 022 8973  www.bbr.com  Jan 2015

2012 ()

(casks) steady red robe, quite dark. The first fruit impression is one of black cherry with a note of generosity at its heart, a sleek style, an attractive air of roasting. The palate links closely to the nose – the fruit glides along, its depth serene, all in order. There is a quiet pick-up of late tannin, and a fine pocket of matter and black fruit juice as it ends, where subtle floral-mineral touches appear. This ends clearly, with toothsome cut. It is an effortless wine, beau, pleasing, but doesn’t have great Hermitage depth. Perhaps it will thicken and intensify with time - it is rated on that development. From 2017. 2028-30  Nov 2013

2011 ()

(casks) dark robe, full of life. Black berry, black cherry openness on the nose, violet and a note of black truffle – this is a pretty big bouquet. The palate has a muscled, even stern start – the Mighty Hill speaks here. Its well-woven tannins are active and energetic, and run all around it. The flavour is centred on blackberry and tar for now, with a nutty side from its oak raising. The fruit is pretty mobile, and the finish shows a definite “click-click” of mineral, dusty granite stones, with a little southern, black olives companion there. This could well be Les Bessards (tasted blind) – right, for once! From 2016-17. 2033-35  Nov 2012


(casks) black cherry robe; dive into a deep, mysterious well of black fruit – the bouquet seems to be very deep, and is a touch stiff, rectangular for the moment. Also shows chocolate, oak and raisins with juice left in them – the last, very rich drops. The palate fruit goes up, down, across, always with a sense of purpose: it is very clear, mobile and juiced. It ends on nutty, oaked tannins that are still outside, as one would expect from Les Bessards. The texture is smooth, holds plenty to attract. A good, structured Hermitage. It would be possibly upright for the Bordeaux drinkers, but is classy and profound. Has a lot of long, lasting tannins. What would be ACE would be to blend 15% Hermite with this, that would give it a silken flourish. I do the blend of 85% Pavillon, 15% L`Ermite, and . . . gradual curve on the nose, polished black fruit aroma. The palate has now had the firmness of the tannins reined in, and is complex on the finish. From 2016. 2038-42 July 2011


(pre-bottle, final assemblage) notably dark robe. Cassis-charcoal-tar, road tar airs, a thick bouquet that comes with a little violet, and a pronounced granite influence to help it out. The palate is rich, dense but purposeful, is helped by the granite soil giving it direction – so it is freer than the sun-baked Méal. It concentrates its forces around a sustained finish, running with tannin and surging, dark, tarred fruit with oak prominent there. From 2015-16. 2042-45 July 2011 Previously Nov 2010 ******(casks) healthy full robe with black tints. Refined, lateral aroma of polished qualities, silken black berry fruit, smoke-tar present. Has some of the manliness of Hermitage. The attack is tight-knit, then bursts out on a run of broad, juicy black fruits, ending clear and long. The aftertaste reflects licorice, and contains good, ripe tannin, a nice firm, decisive finale. It is set to prosper – this is ripe, raisiny, bounty time, a vigorous wine with excellent tannins, the complete package. Has a most interesting aftertaste that is varied around black juice and herbs, the latter an indication of the ripeness of the year. From 2014-15. 2031-34 Nov 2010

2008 ()

(cask, London) pretty, full red robe with a minor trace of purple. The bouquet reflects herbs, a little baked berry fruit tart – its quietly solid Les Bessards nature is in tune with the 2008 character. There is a good balance of content on the palate, which is restrained in depth, and ends on a peppery, bustling note, with pockets of red jam present. Bessards wins over Méal and Greffieux this year here at Chapoutier. The red berry fruit resurfaces handsomely on the finish. From 2013. 2030-33 April 2009


(casks) pretty, full dark red. The nose is enclosed – it comes on a more willing level than the big, tannic years of Pavillon: clear cherry fruit comes across, with smoke from its oak, and graphite. The palate holds compact black fruits with a steady continuity through the palate. It ends on oak and charcoal for now. This is more supple than many Pavillon years – its fruit beckons the drinker, has a brief gourmet moment, a plump pipe tune. The length is fresh and assured, aided by its oak for now. Sound balance – a Mr Honest, Nice Guy wine, without guile. From 2013. 2025-28 Dec 2008


dark robe, with some black tints. The bouquet is wide in theory, but closed in its solid overcoat today. There are smoky, peppery wisps, a good compact black cherry and loganberry underneath – a murmur of that, no more. A glance of mint and toffee complete the nose, which all suggests a muscular wine to come on the palate. The palate is intense – it gains as it goes. The start is smoky, with black fruit deep inside. It ends on licorice, mocha and raisin. This is not a big year, but one that holds confident depth. The length is good – it has two tasks now - to open and loosen, and to absorb its tannins and oak. The black fruits have the merit of clarity – are not at all gummy. 14.5°. From 2013. 2033-35 Dec 2008 Previously June 2007 (casks) ***** bright black cherry robe; has a tight but elegant nose that is led by black fruits, accompanied by smoke and pepper, fair depth here. There is shapely cherry fruit on the palate, the fruit refined all the way through. Has a calm, sweet appeal – the fruit reminds me of 1985, the sunny, pliant vintage. The texture delivers a nutty, nicely firm tone late on. This can sing later in life. Esp 2011 on. 2026-29 June 2007


(pre-bottle) black, red robe – crunchy black fruit, blackcurrant and menthol with oak streaks, smokiness and loganberries – quite a package. Black stone fruits with a cool interior commence the palate. There is a lot of energy as the wine moves through the palate. Tannin/licorice end with a firm, decisive close. The black berry fruit resurfaces on the aftertaste, with good cut. From 2012. Just about a sixer in the stars. 2028-32 June 2007

2004 ()

withdrawn bouquet - some suggestion of red fruits, and propensity to become gamey, sous-bois/damp forest in time. Holds a cool air at this stage (tasted blind, turns out to be Pavillon, so no surprise). Quality of fruit apparent here, with overt oak topping riding in from half way and taking over. Its axis is black, peppery fruit. Bit too clean, but can become more local by 2010. It has a rich theme in the understated 2004 style, and a mineral aftertaste. 2021-24 April 2006

2003 ()

(cask) very dark; smoky, full bouquet, peppered black fruits, with a ripe curl. Big black fruit flavour that persists, stewed in texture. Shows end heat, and is a bit dry there from its oak. It may fuse and iron out the late wrinkles along the palate. From 2007 on. 2019-22


coffee/mint aromas, with a peppery top, and a quite extracted air. Has a tight-knit, black berries flavour. Upright feel - its oak is evident, delivered in a masculine style. There is some fruit to the end, but it lacks soul. It is more domestic than wild dog this year. 2007 on - will be better when the oak is less prominent. 2015-17


comfortably full robe; broad bouquet on a red fruits trail, but has an attractive reserve, with a mineral, almost graphite, line within. It is ripe overall and a light floral air traverses the glass. Bonny black fruits on the palate, has tang and cut at its forefront, then a black cherry run until ending once more on its crispness and tannin. Interesting wine, since it is not obvious, is handsome and stylish. The fine late tannins are good contributors. An STGT wine of great, pure expression, one that is demonstably from Les Bessards with its cut and its fine grain, also the floral nature. Still young. Very good and lovely finesse of the south here. 2028-32 Dec 2009 Previously April 2003 ***** (cask) black fruit/earth/truffle aroma; bright, upright black flavour, with pepper/leather content. Tight tannins, have depth. 2008-09 on. To 2023-27 Previously (cask) ***** some blackberry on nose (note malo still not done in May 02); cooked fruits here, cassis, has a lot of juice and a ripe, blackberry jam texture. Great density, long wine with great tannins. 2020-25


(cask) tight, reserved nose, hints of black fruit, pepper. Quite chunky, square, unformed wine, with oaked, rigorous tannic finale. Will always be chunky rather than charming. Autumn drinking ideal. Esp 2009 on. To 2017-21 Previously (also cask) **** bosky, ample, fat fruit bouquet, cooked black fruit, a real smoky brew; tightly packed crushed cassis. It is quite chunky but vintage softness present. Oak tightens at end. It will be stylish from 2009. From 2009. 2020-22

1999 ()

still a dark red with some black traces. The nose is fresh, shows oak-coffee and red fruits, but it is hard to say where it comes from; has smoky, acrid top notes. The palate bears forward red fruits, but is very smoke-oak influenced; there is live acidity driving it. Ends a little up in the air. This is not a local wine, since the vinification has barged in front of those tendencies. Revert in three to four years, around 2010, but will the oak emerge too much during that time? After decanting and two hours' air, the finish becomes tense and drier from the mix of oak and extraction. So much to write about oak, so little about fruit and terroir. 13.5° 2019-21 March 2008 Previously ***** leathery, minty, smoky bacon, black fruit - interesting bouquet, can become complex. Lot of blackberry jam, is open, then wham! Oak takes over. Dense wine, good length and balance. 2019-24


some red fruits on nose, touch fungal and reduced, also has a slight floral, violet side; good early palate richness, nice and oily. Generous wine. Red fruits ride on an oily finale. Good width of flavour. It is faster-evolving than the 1999. 2017-21


deep bouquet, packs a lot; it is still reserved, is potent and black-fruited. Has a lot of clean black fruit on the palate, while its tannins take over from halfway - they are dark and well-modelled. It is more deep-seated than the Méal, more masculine than L´Ermite. Wild black fruit lies at its heart. 2020-25


½ bottle: full robe, dark core, slight ceding at the top. The nose takes 45 mins to shake off early leather, meaty, smoky notes – becomes rounder, more open, but retains a meaty nature with some pepper edging. The palate has a compact berry flavour, a central spine of acidity. The fruit is fresh, especially for its age. There is a bit of medicine in the taste – black cough medicine. Has good poise. After 45 mins` open – there is more flesh on the early and mid-palate, but the vintage imprint of freshness and clear tones remains on the finish. This is an interesting combination of the fresh vintage taken from a southern vineyard. 2018-20, more probably from a whole bottle. Oct 2005, Copenhagen Previously ***** very black-purple; heated and spirity first air, ahead of dark, damp aromas, inky ones. Holds lissom but powerful dark fruit, cherries. Very big, manly wine, with meat and black fruit which runs truly through it. Tannic finish. From 2005. 2020-25


full robe; very smoky, full, broad bouquet - black fruit/chocolate. Upright texture, prune, pepper/licorice. Mineral aftertaste. Has a true Bessards feel. From 2007-08. To 2020-24


essence and spice appear on the nose, also wooded airs. Has a warm, nicely supple texture. Dark fruit berries here. Good length, still quite stern at the end, via its new oak influence. Leave till 2003 or so. 2011-17


rich look, plenty of glycerine; very broad bouquet, lot of brooding spice and dark aromas - real "dark soup". Big, intense flavour of chocolate and cassis, gutsy wine. Lot of quite ripe end tannins. Will evolve in a stop-start way. Interesting texture. 2015-2020


extreme pitch colour; oil, tar, very dark fruit on nose, has moved past early cassis, quite potent. Ripe and fat wine, though a bit dumb at 8 years. There are still hints of oak on the finale. Possesses a decent tannic frame, albeit a touch constructed. Clean texture. From 2003. 2016-24