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Delas Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette Blanc 1993

Continuing with last week's theme, this week another Hermitage. And another from Delas, as it happens. Last week was the 1994 Marquise de la Tourette Rouge, this week the preceding vintage, and white rather than red.

Delas Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette Blanc 1993The presence of white grapes growing on the hill of Hermitage is of interest; although anyone familiar with the wines of the Rhône will be aware that the permitted varieties are Marsanne and Roussanne, and will also be familiar with white Hermitage, it is easy to forget that the white grapes may also be blended in with red Hermitage, akin to the blending of Viognier with Syrah in the Côte-Rôtie appellation. The white fruit may be cofermented with the red, and may make up no more than 15% of the wine. I once heard it explained that this concession allowed for difficulties in distinguishing between the varieties when planting out new cuttings, stemming from the days when the nurserymen were perhaps less precise in determining what they were selling than they are today. The ruling meant that entire vineyards could be harvested in one sweep, even if one or two white vines had accidentally landed amongst all the red. The inclusion of the white grapes may even be of benefit, as Marsanne in particular can bring texture to the final wine. Nevertheless, few vignerons would take advantage of the full 15%, and today 5% would be a more typical figure.

Delas Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette Blanc 1993Here, however, we have the white fruit bottled alone, in the shape of the 1993 Hermitage Cuvée Marquise de la Tourette Blanc from Delas. The Delas vines account for just 1 hectare of the ten owned or rented by the firm on the hill, and is predominantly Marsanne, with Roussanne more of a seasoning than a major ingredient it seems. In the glass it has a rich, golden hue that is full of promise, and the nose is full of delightful character, with aromas of truffles and nuts presented in an open and expressive fashion. I find it quite captivating. There is a tangible weight to it, and yet it is reserved, with a gentle, attractive, nicely integrated, complete feel on the palate. Always harmonious, it shows a gently honeyed, nutty, soft and creamy character, more of a tender caress than the firm grip provided by some wines. A lovely finish of stone fruit nuances and a moderate length. After the disappointment of the 1994 Rouge this is an uplifting experience. Very good indeed. 17.5/20 (14/1/08)

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