Totally insane but surprisingly classy Hermitage

I’m still feeling a tad bonkers so thought opening a silly wine would suit. I expected lunacy from 2003 Hermitage, which it delivered with screaming style, but its manifest quality was more of a surprise. Stupendous scale aside it was totally toothsome.

After initially being rather sniffy about 2003 European wines I’ve found many reds to have a good approximation to charm. Perhaps ‘charm’ is the wrong word, yet many are nice drinks rather than simply being impressive. If you can manage to be heroic in your drinking habits some will undoubtedly entertain. I would suggest they are not for the lilly-livered, a rule to which this wine is no exception.

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Hermitage 2003, Domaine du Colombier

This is a huge nose charged with scale and power. Yet, if your previous Syrah experiences have only been Australian Shiraz of the lighter-fluid idiom you will not feel at home sniffing this. Sure, its big, ripe and stupendously booze-charged, but also incredibly earthy and suffused with complexity. The fruit is not at all jammy, there are ripe plums and lovely blackberries in abundance which make the potentially un-nerving scale of the nose positively attractive. When it comes to the mouth-feel it is very easy to say this has the manliness one wants from a Hermitage. Powerful as it might be I’m not feeling over-whelmed drinking my share. OK, I’m slightly drunk, yet the complexity and class of this Hermitage is pleasuring me immensely – I’m getting through half a bottle without feeling tired and generally shagged-out. The fruit is delicious, the earthy complexity highly engaging and these are supported by a tannic structure of ample rigour and pretty good acidity levels. The persistence of fruit and earthiness on the finish is distinctly titillating even for my palate used to more minimalist pleasures. Sod minimalist pleasures, though, if big wines can be this sophisticated and compelling I’m all for them. If you have some bottles of this I feel its tenth birthday would be a suitable age to start drinking, but it is going to last forever and make rather intriguing old bones. I’m feeling improved.

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