A bit of Broadbenting

I was going to take a bottle of this to a chum’s place in a couple of weeks. Would you believe it? He has the temerity to ask me to bring something else?!? I think that is the first time someone has rejected one of my wines! As vengeance I will take something else, but he will have to identify it blind! That is not a terribly onerous penalty, it is true, even less so when you consider the orgiastic brilliance of what he will be trying to identify; but it is a bit of fun, you know?

In this tasting note I am afraid I will have to do a bit of Broadbenting. This behaviour, named after self-proclaimed brilliant taster Michael Broadbent, is wallowing in your exceptional knowledge about wine and how best to enjoy it whilst sneering ostentatiously about how those around you cannot hope to match up to your levels of wine appreciation. I would never dream of behaving in such a manner… except when absolutely necessary…

Colombier Hermitage 2008Hermitage 2008, Domaine du Colombier

On a first sniff this seems more like some form of super Tuscan effort. Bitter cherry fruit that is so tight I would guess that it is somewhat reductive There is some rhubarb too, another thing I associate with reductive Syrah.. No oak or high alcohol, but not like the manliest wine in France on the nose.

The palate seems un-Hermitage-y too. More of that bitter, reductive fruit, butch tannins and seemingly high acidity. This is not what one would expect when popping a Hermitage, even when it is not from the most effulgent of vintages.

(Begin Broadbenting) Ah, but those who are initially unimpressed are making a mistake typical of the neophyte taster. Rather than drinking it rapidly the sage taster knows that Colombier is made in a reductive style and it needs time in a decanter or in the glass swirling from time to time for it to truly blossom. Drinking this quickly, before it has properly expressed its true characteristics are just frittering away the true experience of this wine. (End Broadbenting.)

Yep, ten minutes of swirling in my glass allows aromas of spice, pepper, polished leather and dark, brooding fruit to develop. With all those aromas bound up in an intricate unity this smells like a real Hermitage.

Really, the air time is important if you to experience it at its best. It may not smell like the greatest Hermitage ever, but with air it definitely smells of a quality Hermitage.

The palate is also improved. The tannins, whilst remaining big, are much more polished, and with the acidity they make the structure of this quite pleasing.

The fruit is also much nicer with a bit of air; it is complex, dark fruit with lots of Syrah spice and pepper in the mix to keep it complex and compelling.

It has a pretty good texture, and the complexity is pretty good, but it is a little on the dry side and perhaps the acid is a tad spikey. It is a good Hermitage, but I will freely admit it is not the most coruscatingly brilliant Hermitage.

I am not sure what will happen to this with more cellar time. I worry about that acidity becoming dominant; but there is a lot of fruit there and, I think as it is still somewhat reduced, that could well blossom and keep the harmony good. I shall keep my remaining bottle.

  • Keith prothero

    Great note Davy. Thanks for your comments. Must have lunch when return next summer

  • Tom Blach

    I find nowadays that wines in this state betray themselves by the sound of fizzing in the glass. Holding the glass to one’s ear also conveys to those around one that one seriously means business-or possibly something else, but nevertheless vigorous action is needed to get rid of the bubbles. When they have gone all will be revealed more often than not.

  • I had the 07 of this last night. I was too whammed to write a note but it was leagues ahead of this.

  • When I bought some bottles of the 99, many long years ago, I was itching to try one. The Editor kept refusing permission saying it would be too young. So, eventually, I opened a bottle blind for him. He sniffed and said,”It’s horrible! All beetroot and rhubarb. It’s that bloody Colombier 99, isn’t it?” He was right, it was amazingly reduced and not all that nice. Yet when I had a bottle a few weeks ago I thought it was rather brilliant; perhaps the two bottles of 08 I have will show more in a few years. I bloody won’t be opening my two 12s and 13s right now!

  • Guy

    People devote much thought and discussion to the way pinot noir ages, shutting down or being awkward in an adolescent phase. But adolescent syrah also seems tricky to me – just people rarely seem to comment to this effect.

  • You are quite, Guy; I too have witnessed some great Rhone wines that have been deliciously drinkable in their youth, bloody awful in their middle age, and delicately refined when mature, finally becoming crapulently pestilential filth when they’ve been kept for too long.

    From my mental database (and it is mental rather than SQL Server) people seem to drink their Rhone wines when they are not young enough and beyond the deliciousness of youth, or they drink them too old, as in in the middle-aged period of ungiving foulness, or far too old and are knackered , because the stupid bastard cellared them for so long they are only fit for pouring down the sink.

    Why do so many people misjudge the amount of cellar time their wines merit?? Because it is (Swedish phrase) shit-hard, arcane art, that can only be learned (and even when you’ve had a life (Swedish phrase) shit-soaked in truly un-calculable amount of wine.

    My preferred taste is for wine that is (Swedish phrase) shit-vivacious and bursting with fresh characters of the vineyard. I’d rather enjoy wines than undertake the (Swedish phrase) shit-hard descisom of when to drink the few bottles of a mine I might have. I don,t want to take the chance of pissing away fine wines that would have been delicious young.