"Last year I reported on the staggering 1994 Crozes-Hermitage Le Varonniers. This is one of the new stars of the Chapoutier portfolio, and is clearly the finest Crozes-Hermitage I have ever tasted. Only 4,000 bottles were produced. In essence, it is as good, if not better than most other producers' Hermitage. It offers thrilling levels of cassis fruit intermingled with aromas of licorice, smoke, flowers, and powdered stone. Extremely full and dense, this is a compelling example of what Crozes-Hermitage can achieve. Chapoutier's top cuvees are consistently among the world's greatest wines. Unfortunately, they are made in extremely small quantities, ranging from 250 cases of the St.-Joseph Les Granites, to 600 cases of the Hermitage La Pavillon. They are also expensive, but no one can argue the fact that consumers are getting some of the world's greatest, most natural expressions of terroir, varietal character, and vintage personality. Moreover, these special cuvees have been remarkably brilliant in such difficult vintages as 1992 and 1993, where the finest Rhone wines were produced by Chapoutier. If my tasting notes read like a promotional campaign for this estate, it is because these are among the greatest wines I have ever tasted."