Hermitage, a hill blessed by Bacchus

© T. Joly
Very famous, the wines of the Hermitage appellation are produced on granite soils along the Rhone River. A footpath allows you to stroll through the vineyard and discover beautiful landscapes.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
550 km from Paris on autoroute A6
- By train
TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Lyon Pardieu then TER till Tain. The journey takes between 3 h 15 and 3 h 30.
Hôtel Les 2 Coteaux
Hôtel Le Pavillon de l’Hermitage
Le Mangevins
Cave du Taurobole
Cave de Tain l’Hermitage
22 route de Lamage
- July and August, open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm, Sundays and Bank holidays from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm.
- Other months, open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 6.30pm, Sundays and Bank holidays from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm
Tel : 0475082087
14 avenue du Président Roosevelt
Open Monday from 10am to 7pm, Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm.
Tel : 0475079062
- Drome Tourist Office
Tel : 0475821926
- Tain l’Hermitage Tourist Office
Tel : 0475080661
One of the smallest French wine appellations with only 126 hectares of vineyards, Hermitage is nevertheless worldwide known for both its reds and whites.
This legendary vineyard occupies a hill overlooking the small town of Tain l'Hermitage on the left bank of the Rhone, 90 km south of Lyon. A local legend has it that a knight named Sterimberg, returning from the crusade, decided to build the chapel that crowns the top and planted a few vines of syrah he had brought back from Asia Minor.

© T. Joly
 Less than fifty winegrowers
In fact, most scholars now believe the Northern Rhône Valley is the cradle of this grape variety, the only one authorized for reds, that gives full body wines with complex aromas of cassis and leather. Besides, about 30% of the vineyard is occupied by two white varieties, Marsanne and Roussanne that produce white wines with a beautiful complexity and a golden yellow color that can age up to ten years.
Less than fifty winemakers have plots in this vineyard, including big names like Jaboulet and Chapoutier which are also the largest owners with nearly 25 ha each. In contrast, several ones have only 1 ha to 2 ha. The Tain l’Hermitage cooperative comes third with 21 ha but it also vinifies grapes grown by its members on their own plots. So, it is the largest producer of Hermitage with 27% of the total and it makes conventional and organic wines as well as the rare straw wine.

© T. Joly
 A stroll through the vineyards
Located at the foot of the hill, the winery has a small shop where are given some explanation about viticulture and winemaking. It also created a footpath called "In the Footsteps of Gambert." Winding through the vineyards, it leads to the chapel dedicated to St. Christopher, which crowns the hill. From there you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the vineyards, the Rhone valley, the river and the vineyards that stretch on its right bank (Cornas, Saint Joseph, Saint-Péray). This tour takes 1 h 30 mn to 2 h and the way is lined with numbered markers. Referring to information contained in a leaflet available at the winery as well as in a downloadable cell phone application, they allow you to learn about the various terroirs, the characteristics of the grape varieries, the vine management, the soil and its geological origin, the landscapes and the most famous plots.
The cooperative also owns the Fief de Gambert, former home of its founder, Louis Gambert de Loche.

© T. Joly
 Innovative cuisine
Surrounded by vineyards, it now houses a gourmet restaurant and function rooms where are organized tasting as well as food and wine pairing workshops. Led by a Franco-Japanese couple, the Umia restaurant offers innovative cuisine including main dishes with chocolate. Maybe because Tain l'Hermitage is home to one of France and world best chocolatiers, Valrhona, whom the factory store is a haven for food lovers who can taste and buy many varieties of chocolates. While in Tain, you can also visit Tournon, a town lying right across the river, on its right bank. Easily accessible, thanks to a pedestrian bridge spanning over the Rhône, it boasts a 15th - 16th centuries castle, which houses a museum containing sculptures, paintings, prints and objects related to its history and river navigation.

June 12, 2013
Thierry Joly