Ermitage wines possess a rich historical past. They were appreciated as early on as Roman times when they were enjoyed (as well as Cote Rotie wines) under the name of "Vienne wines" and were later to be called "Saint Christopher's hillside wines" because of a chapel there bearing the saint's name. They were also to be known of as “Tournon wines".
The name of Ermitage probably first appeared in the 17th Century in memory of Henry Gaspard, a knight from Sterimberg who, having come back from the Crusades (in the 13th Century) and tired of waging war, lived as a hermit on a hillside which had been given to him by Anne of Castille, Queen of Spain. There he planted a vineyard.
Chapoutier’s Ermitage le Meal, 100% Syrah, is produced with grapes coming from the Meal hillside. This slope is composed of high terraces of shingles and clay. The vines are about 50 years old.
The color is deep garnet red with purple lights during its youth. The wine has ripe fruits and smoky aromas, powerful tannins, and taste of velvety, blackberry jam. Depending on the vintage, the wine can be kept from 30 to 60 years or from 50 to 75 years.
Chapoutier is one of the oldest wine producers in the Rhone Valley with a history dating back to 1808. A distant ancestor, Polydor Chapoutier, was the first to buy vines here, shifting from being a simple grape grower to making and trading his own wine. For the last two hundred years, the estate has been producing some of the greatest wines in the Rhone Valley. Today, the range also includes wines from some Roussillon appellations as well as projects in Portugal and Australia.
Under Michel Chapoutier’s leadership, quality improved and Chapoutier gained international recognition. The massive negociant and winery produces single-vineyard expressions and classic wines from a range of appellations in the north and south of the valley.
They have adopted biodynamic farming techniques and have included Braille markings on their labels since 1996. This was done from a desire to reach out to and include lovers of good wines with sight-impairments, and as a tribute to Maurice Monier of La Sizeranne, a member of the family that previously owned the vines of the same name and who invented the first abbreviated version of Braille.