Quickie: Colombier Hermitage 2007

Whilst I was in hospital a couple of weeks ago I was repeatedly and sternly warned that I should watch my boozing now I have type 1 diabetes. Obviously I thought, “Tish, pish and bollocks to that!”. However, further research into the effects alcohol can have on diabetics did perturb me a little, so I haven’t been paralytic since leaving hospital. Indeed, this bottle of Domaine Colombier Hermitage 2007, opened with Christmas dinner, is the first wine I popped since getting out. Consequently, I was as pleased as chips that is was totally cracking.

Colombier Hermitage 2007
No, I didn’t try carrying it on the BigTrak

I last wrote about Colombier Hermitage 2007 back in 2011. Back then it was a burly, strapping, powerful wine, the epitome of ‘the manliest wine in France’. I thought it needed ten more years to come around.  However, we were have roast rolled sirloin of Woodlands Jersey Beef for Christmas dinner and, given my desire for something fairly robust, we thought we would pop the bottle I had lying around. It was certainly manly, but it was more than that.

A couple of years in my wine fridge appeared to have developed it to a reasonable degree and whilst lacking nothing in terms of robust vigour it was also deeply silky and smooth. It oozed (relatively) elegant charm and had a degree of softness I haven’t encountered in a Hermitage since the brief fad of Gerard Chave to make good wines in the 1990s before his son took over and decided he preferred jam with napalm mixed in. This was a really refined, classy wine that left us utterly smitten with me jumping up and down on the sofa, shouting repeatedly “See? See? I told you Colombier was brilliant!”.

It has the ability to age for much longer and further develop the soft, elegant, svelte characters this showed, but last night’s bottle easily matched the gimungus poonts quality of the meal we cooked. Indeed, I would go as far as saying this was as good as the best of any Hermitage I’ve ever had. I solid mean it.

Given that Colombier Hermitage still sells for a fraction of the price of the more famous, and also more despicable, loathsome and doubtless infected with a few social diseases, producers who dominate the Hermitage scene, you would be doing yourself a service to pick up any you see for sale. More recent vintages don’t seem to show any drop in the extremely high standards of Colombier – although when they are very young they do have a tendency to be a bit reduced. Give them a few years. However, this 2007 shows you don’t have to wait forever to have a refined, but recognisably manly, Hermitage experience.

  • Tom Blach

    That sounds delicious, David. Season’s greetings to all at Elitist Towers.
    I’m rather taken by the idea of jam with napalm in it.

  • I can see it being useful to deal with any unwanted visits by vicars. J-L C’s prestige cuvée can often be over 15% – that’s just not right.

    The Colombier was totally delicious; quite the delight.

    Happy Christmas and New Year to you, Tom.

  • Alex Lake

    Wonderful write-up…

    However, this post does fill me with a tinge of sadness, as I bought some of this wine in a much earlier vintage – I think thanks to a recommendation of Andrew Stevenson. If I recall correctly, I shared a 6-pack with another forumite. I enjoyed one bottle hugely, but then seem to have lost the remaining two!

    Got some others of his wines, though – I think the 2005 Hermitage? So may crack one of them soon.

    When did Chave lose it? I recall the 2003 being a seriously admired wine, but possibly by the wrong kind of admirers.

  • Sorry Alex, I missed your comment. 2005 is the vintage Florien at Colombier returned to the manly style of Hermitage after going through an elegant phase. I tried one when I bought some on release and thought it was bloody marvellous – a real Hermitage that curled both the hairs on my chest. It’s probably better than this 07, but based on this I see no harm, indeed I foresee extreme pleasure, in you cracking one now. IMO he is currently the best producer of Hermitage, with Yann Chave and *spit* Guigal competing for second place. Guigal’s basic Hermitage ages extremely well whereas I think Colombier and Yann Chave are only middle-distance runners and with YC I’d say drink them young with very rare meat for an explosively good time.

    The last Chave I enjoyed was the 1999. I only tried his prestige cuvee in 2003 and it was just not the kind of thing you drink for pleasure. Sure, it was impressive, in a massively overblown way, and it’d get you wildly pissed, but basically I found myself thinking I was drinking cream of petrol soup. I’ve had more recent vintages and they seem to be continuing this trend of really high alcohol, over ripe fruit and tannins and the texture of vodka jelly shots. I’ve hated them all.

    Purely for comparative purposes, Colombier marks his wines as 13.5% and Chave 14.5%. Both can be lies by up to a degree (or more), but Colombier is far closer to his promise far more often. Even in a manly wine like Hermitage I’m much happier with nearly 13.5% than beyond 14.5%.