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Wine Wisdoms #44: The History of Hermitage

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 at 3:45:56 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Many wine lovers are familiar with Hermitage, the world-renowned wine from France’s Rhone Valley. But the origin of its name is an interesting story.

Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, as battle raged in the Holy Land, legend has it that one Crusader, returning home to the Northern Rhone territory, threw down his armament and declared his days of battle behind him. Bearing Syrah vines, the man became a hermit and built a chapel on a hill, vowing that his vineyard would be his hermitage, and thus the venerable Hermitage wine region was founded. With just 331 acres of vineyards on the east side of the Rhone, the hilly Hermitage area towers over the riverfront town of Tain-l’Hermitage, and yields are low, making the wines very rare. Reds are made mainly from Syrah, but also Marsanne and Roussanne, and are renowned for their deep color, complex aromas and long cellaring life. Whites are harder to come by (account for about a quarter of production) and are made from Marsanne and Roussanne. They are known for being full-bodied and, likewise, have long aging potential.

As featured in the October issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. For more articles from the October issue visit

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