Quick background on Hermitage wine, Hermitage is a small appellation part of the Northern Rhone Valley, with only 345 acres of planted vineyards producing only 55,000 cases of wine per vintage. The Hermitage AOC only allows 1 red wine grape to be planted, which is Syrah, the most common Rhone valley grape, and two white grapes Marsanne and Roussane. Syrah creates is one of the darkest, most full-bodied wines in the world, usually spicy with loads of dark fruits, chocolate, and some herbal notes. Unlike most other French wine region, Hermitage usually never blend their red wine.
With the boring wine facts over, here we go:
Caol Ila 2001 Hermitage Wood Finish Gordan & Macphail
Container: Glencairn Neat
Cask Type: Finished in First Fill E. Guigal Hermitage Casks
Colour: Golden Amber
Nose: Waves of sweet peat, smoke, lots of red fruits, strawberries, cherries, hint of light herbal note, cacao, pepper, light orange note, red jolly rancher.
Love the nose, really reminds me of the Longrow Red Australian Shiraz, hold on a second! They are both in the same type of grape varietal barrel (French Syrah and Australian Shiraz)! No wonder!
Palate: Nice and syrupy on the palate. Peat with distinctive ash characteristics, never experienced this before. Sweet cherries, jolly ranchers, charred thyme, cacao, oak, pepper, something I keep chewing on but I have no idea what it is, not exactly tobacco but something woody/muted in that direction.
Finish: Long and smoky, it has that mineral water aftertaste to it, earthy, vegetal, hint of bitter oak, unripe tropical fruit – mango?.
Overall an interesting dram, but after trying the Longrow Australian Shiraz, the Caol Ila Hermitage is no match for it. The bitter finish I am not a big fan of, then it turns into mineral water, which I also prefer not to drink. I’d imagine this would be great at a higher proof, sadly G&M seem to enjoy watering things down.