The limited production blockbuster 2006 Hermitage Les Bessards is exquisite. Opaque inky/purple-colored with a stunning perfume of white chocolate, creme de cassis, incense, and camphor, this 2006 possesses fabulous fruit, full-bodied power, awesome concentration, and sweet, noble tannins. A classic in the making, it will be drinkable in 8-10 years, and should keep for half a century. In the late 1990s, as the quality of one of the northern Rhone’s most well-known negociant firms, Paul Jaboulet-Aine, was beginning to decline, the quality of Delas Freres was soaring, and they are now one of the three top negociant firms in the Rhone Valley. Delas Freres has been the property of Champagne Deutz since 1996, and belongs to the same owners as Champagne Louis Roederer. The owners as well as the Directeur Technique, the brilliant Jacques Grange, and winemaker Jean-Francois Farinet deserve credit for the rise in quality at this operation. The Delas Freres wines continue to go from strength to strength, and while I believe the Jaboulet wines will return to form under the new ownership, Delas Freres is already there. The current portfolio includes strong 2006s and very good 2007s. As long-time readers know, there is a hierarchy to the Delas wines from Crozes-Hermitage, St.-Joseph, Hermitage, and Cote Rotie. The finest values come from Crozes-Hermitage (especially their lower level cuvees, Les Launes and Domaine des Grands Chemins), and from St.-Joseph (Les Challeys). The quality jumps dramatically with the Crozes-Hermitage Le Clos, St.-Joseph Francois de Tournon, and the luxury cuvee, the St.-Joseph Ste.-Epine. In top vintages, there are two offerings from Cote Rotie, the single vineyard La Landonne and the Seigneur de Maugiron. Both cuvees were produced in 2006, but only the Seigneur de Maugiron was made in 2007 (because of the hail storm that destroyed a large percentage of the crop in Cote Rotie). Delas Freres owns 25 acres in Hermitage, from which they produce two cuvees, with Les Bessards only made in the top vintages. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate # 182.
Robert ParkerScore: 97/100
One of the wines of the vintage is unquestionably the 2006 Hermitage les Bessards, which comes from one of the greatest terroirs for Syrah in the world. Still youthful and vibrant, with those classic graphite and crushed rock characteristics that define this cuvee, as well as loads of black fruits, toasted spice and dried flowers, this beauty is full-bodied, uber-concentrated and gorgeously pure. It’s still 4-5 years away from full maturity, and is going to keep for 2-3 decades. Mar 2017, www.robertparker.com
Jeb DunnuckScore: 97/100