Faurie Hermitage 2000
I’m making a momentary return to Hermitage this week, an appellation which last occupied my thoughts in January, when I looked at two wines from Delas. My brief inspection of the appellation at that time naturally focused on the Delas vineyards, of which Les Bessards is without doubt the most significant, and is the source of this négociant’s leading cuvée. Then there are the Delas vines in Les Grandes Vignes and Le Méal. With Faurie, however, we must look to some of the other sites on this most famous of hills.
Most of Faurie’s vines are in Les Greffieux, a vineyard that stretches along the back of the town of Tain l’Hermitage, sandwiched between the suburbs below, and Le Méal – where Faurie also has a few vines – above. This site has some granite, but in truth the soils, because of the vineyard’s position closer to the foot of the hill, are more marked by clay and alluvial stones. What granite there is here is concentrated to the west, towards the eastern end the soils are richer and may even contain some sand. Some of these richer soils are home to Marsanne rather than Syrah, but Faurie, who owns vines on the more granitic portions and thus likens his part of the vineyard to Les Bessards, has only Syrah.
Thanks to the moisture-retaining property of the clay Les Greffieux does well in hot, dry vintages – such as 2003 – that stress other vines on soils with more efficient drainage. And there is also some limestone here, and as a result the wines of this vineyard can have more acidity than some others, and are said to have a good perfume. As Faurie’s fruit is mostly sourced from this site, these are – I suppose – characteristics we might expect to find in his wines. The example tasted here comes from the 2000 vintage, a year troubled by stuttering ripening with a summer that was initially cool and wet, but then excessively hot. Although some good wines were made, some show stewed or burnt notes, and many have lower acidities than might be satisfactory.
On tasting the 2000 Faurie Hermitage today this wine has a lovely nose of immediate appeal; the fruit is still very dominant here, perhaps not surprising at just eight years of age. The aromas are led by fresh raspberries, then followed by darker notes of plums and dried tobacco. Certainly nothing burnt or baked here. There is a meaty edge, suggesting there is much more to this wine than these very straightforward primary aromas, but it is all presented in a very fresh, pure and lifted fashion. As if to confirm this it shows lovely freshness on entry, and a very complete style through the midpalate. Here it holds a note of dark, slightly bitter chocolate, presented in a moderately lean and appealing texture together with a low level of rather well covered acidity as we might expect from the vintage reports. But, underneath it all there is a nice vein of austerity; this is really very attractive, easy to drink now, and yet certainly on the way up. I think I am going to enjoy my subsequent bottles of this wine. 17.5+/20 (11/8/08)