Hermitage is a small, but highly regarded French wine region (AOP) in the northern Rhône wine region - south of the city of Lyon. It produces predominantly red wines from Syrah. Though small quantities of white wine is also produced from local varietals Roussanne and Marsanne. The hill which overlooks the village of Tain-l'Hermitage, is by some seen as the spiritual home of the Syrah grape varietal.
The Hermitage AOC was orignally established back in 1937 - and is known for classic Syrah wines that rival the best 'Cru' wines of Bordeaux. While the AOP appellation allows for up to 15% of Marsanne and Roussanne to be added to the blend - the best wines are 100% Syrah which balance, power and weight with finesse and elegance.

 

According to legend, the Knight Gaspard de Stérimberg returned home wounded in 1224 from the Albigensian Crusade and was given permission by the Queen of France to build a small shelter to recover in, where he lived as a hermit. The chapel now on top - was built in honor of Saint Christopher and is owned by Paul Jaboulet Âiné - (since 2006, the Frey family).

During the 19th century wines from Bordeaux during very cool, poor vintages were often ‘hermitaged’ (blended with wine from Hermitage) and could achieve higher prices.
The appellation surrounds the small town of Tain l'Hermitage. The vines grow on the south west side of a steep granite hill facing the afternoon sun and can be divided into a number of smaller vineyards. These are ‘Les Bessards’ to the west, ‘L'Hermite’ and ‘La Chapelle’ on the top of the hill, with 140 hectares of vines in total, in soil composed mainly of granite and gravels, Hermitage produces 60,000 cases of mostly red wines, annually.
Hermitage reds tend toward being very earthy, with aromas of red berries, earth, cocoa, dried spice and coffee. Because of the high levels of tannin they are usually aged longer than Australian or South American Syrah; and are often cellared up to 40 years. Rich, dry white wines are also produced from a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. These complex white wines are also usually left to age, for up to 8-10 years - enjoy.