France: Rhône Valley

Around Tain l'Hermitage

The wines of Hermitage, Crozes, Cornas and Saint Joseph
By John Wheeldon

This Guide was last updated on 08 August 2011
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Main wine styles


Hermitage is a robust wine, harsh in its youth, but develops a bouquet of red fruits and wild flowers evolving to leather and spice tones with age. The best will age for 5–15 years or more. Crozes-Hermitage has similar characteristics but is more approachable when young. Cornas wines tend to be somewhat more rustic than Hermitage and also age for ten years or more. Red Saint Joseph wines are supple with blackberry and raspberry perfumes with hints of liquorice and leather for mid-term drinking. Most of these wines are aged in oak - whereas large foudres were the tradition, today, most producers in the area, especially for Hermitage and Cornas use small barriques today, some using proportion of new oak.


Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage are rich dry wines expressing floral aromas with toasted almonds and vanilla depending partly on how much oak ageing is used. White Hermitage may be aged for several years. White Saint Joseph is a fresh dry wine with honey and acacia aromas - the best cuvées are mostly Roussanne. Saint Péray is dry with delicate floral tones. The rare Hermitage Vin de Paille sweet wines are unctuous and very long-lived.

Sparkling Wines

Saint Péray sparkling wines are made in the Traditional method, the second fermentation takes place in bottle and there is a minimum ageing period of 15 months before disgorgement. The wines are dry with citrus fruit and floral aromas.

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