I can feel hairs growing on bits of me

Hermitage is traditionally the manliest wine in France and, as The Editor and I are at least nominally men (superannuated toddlers, more like!) we thought it would make appropriate drinking for lunch. No food, you see? This is extreme dieting. One sniff of this shows it to be deeply pulsingly manly, so much so I wonder where it’ll make hairs grow on me. This is a wine for heroes and I bleeding well feel like a hero at the moment; wouldn’t you if you had achieved what I have?

When I’ve opened Colombier for people in the past some unenlightened minds have whined that they are not the ‘classic’, elegant wines that Chave and Jaboulet used to produce. This gripe is irrelevant firstly because neither are Chave or Jaboulet these days (Jaboulet is simply crap), but mostly because if there is a classic style of Hermitage, this is it. Manly, as I said in the first paragraph – manly doesn’t do 3D decoupage, it wipes its boots on the bed, eats raw steak and shags with unthinking enthusiasm if it gets half a chance. Now that may not be a terribly popular style in the circles I move in, but it is what Hermitage is and when it is done as well as with this homme you quite enjoy the sex.

Domaine du Colombier Hermitage 2008Hermitage 2008, Domaine Colombier

Wow! Power and density on the nose! The rich, earthy fruit is almost thick, there’s so much to it. Luckily, the alcohol level is perfectly fine and that earthiness is almost as sophisticated as the complexity of the fruit characters. But it’s a man’s wine, judging from this nose, it wears a lumberjack shirt with its pink cords with ducks on. I love it! Most Australian winemakers should be repeatedly hit on the head with this bottle until they learn how to do ‘big’ with style and panache.

The palate is almost as big as the nose; it throbs with vivacious energy. The fruit is richly ripe and dense, yet no hint of straying toward over-ripe, jammy or soupy. That fruit also displays the profound subtlety of a man who knows how to hug and cry at the appropriate moments. Rich with earth flavours too. Yummy, what a cracker. The tannic structure is butch enough to need shaving, but not so tough your palate needs shaving after drinking some. There’s great, thrilling acidity to it as well.

All tied up in brilliantly powerful equilibrium; this is a wine with a long-gloriously shag-tastic future ahead of it, but what a treat to get ravaged by it today. I’ve long claimed that, in recent years, Domaine Colombier should be your first port of call for quality Hermitage and this demonstrates that girthily. It’s quite reasonably priced as well – result!

Lay and Wheeler sell this and if you don’t go and buy some after reading this note you must be some kind of poof or something. Leave some for me, though; I want more and, probably because I am some kind of poof, I find it hard to turn down as handsome an example of masculinity as this.

  • Wonderful stuff!
    (Your review, that is – although I suspect the wine’s a cracker too)

  • It blinking is, Alex! Fond memories I may have of Chave and Jaboulet in the 80s and early 90s but this is Hermitage of massive danglies quality. Hooray!

  • I should add that Colombier’s white Hermitage is the cat’s arse too – probably the best I’ve had. It has a very accessible ageing profile and I’ve never caught a bottle in the often-mentioned closed period white Hermitage normally goes through.

  • Who needs white hermitage (and its concomitant debt) when one has Musar? 😉

  • Oh I’ve never had a bottle of white Musar I didn’t find undrinkable. White Hermitage, on the other hand, is one of my favourite wines. One of my favourite wines I drink only six times a year, admittedly, but I love it!

  • Ed Tully

    White Musar? Even as a very convinced atheist (or maybe that should be very unconvinced?) white Musar is abhorrent enough for me to believe that there is a devil and that foul filth is his jizz.

    • Brilliant, Edward! Just the kind of balance, reasonableness and moderation I’d demand of my successor to the Oxford blind tasting team captaincy. Top work!

  • Ed Tully

    Whereas Colombier’s Hermitage is jolly nice. As is the posh crozes he makes, which I believe you have reviewed once or twice. The red Musar I can take or leave. It frequently tastes of blood. Given the conditions it is made in it probably frequently is blood, come to think of it.

  • Time will sort these out. It wasn’t all good, though: the Cornas Domaine de St-Pierre 2004 was particularly disappointing, with Brett symptoms (that is, wet dog, manure and plasters) and tired fruit. It is absolutely correct that there should be some bedding-in time for the new Paul Jaboulet Aîné. But my main concern remains that these northern Rhône wines are being robbed of their typicity, and that prices are becoming way out of sync for the quality offered. Somewhere in theword ‘quality’, I expect individuality or personality. More local conviction, with local input or appreciation, rather than the imported mix of laboratory and Bordeaux mentality, is needed if this top Rhône house is to be truly credible.