The Chave family has been growing wine in the Northern Rhone since 1481. Jean-Louis joined his father in 1992 and currently represents 16 generations of unbroken lineage committed to the production of some of the finest Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne on the planet! The Key to these long-lived wines of great purity, elegance, power, and finesse, is the family's winemaking pedigree and remarkable blending skills. The Chave family has never released a single vineyard or cru Hermitage instead cultivates the perfect blend of vineyards crafting the most prodigious Syrah wine in the world, year after year.
“The Chave line ... could make a fair claim to be France’s winemaking royal family: in no other of France’s great terroirs is the largest individual landholder so deeply rooted in time and place, so supremely competent, and so modest a custodian of the insights and craftsmanship of the past.” ~ Andrew Jefford, The New France
The Chave’s methods for all their winemaking are traditional farming, super low yields (focused on quality), full ripeness, and minimal manipulation. Their unmatched meticulousness continues through five centuries to render venerable expressions of the purest of Rhône terroir! Chave's family talents passed down from generation to generation allows them to produced unmatched wines in even the most difficult vintages. As the largest landowner on the hill of Hermitage, the Chave family's consistency and commitment to crafting the world's finest Syrah has been unmatched over five centuries.
Many hours of thought, insight, and conversation go into the final component blend for Hermitage. While percentages vary from year to year, the constant backbone of Hermitage Rouge is Syrah from Bessards Vineyard with its steep, granitic slopes. These vines average 50 years in age with the best vines reaching 80+ years in age. Generally, 100% destemmed, as the Hermitage is meant to be about the expression of the individual vineyards and soils; Jean-Louis believes that stems have a tendency to level out the differences. Fermentation in wood tonneaux and stainless steel tanks. Aged in barriques for 30 months.
Tasting Notes: 100% Syrah. Immensely complex on the nose, red fruits, dark chocolate, cassis, toasted spices, cured meat, fresh cracked pepper, and turned earth light up the senses. The palate is concentrated, deeply complex, and full of plush red fruits. The elegance of this wine is unmatched with firm acidity, fine tannins, and a finish that goes on for minutes.
Lastly, the 2018 Hermitage is still resting in its individual components, and it’s such an education tasting through the samples from Bessards, Péléat, Méal, and Beaumes. In some years, each terroir is easy to see (the spice and complexity from Péléat, the opulence from the Méal, etc.), yet in 2018, the Méal was more structured and inward and the l’Ermite was shockingly opulent and powerful. The crème de la crème was the sample from Les Bessards, and wine doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion. Regardless, all the samples possess incredible quality and show classic, powerful aromatics reminiscent of a classic, almost cooler year paired with massive richness, depth, and structure on the palate. Possibly coming closest in my mind to a hypothetical mix of the 2009 and 2010, this is a legendary Chave Hermitage in the making. ~98-100 Jeb Dunnuck
As virtually all of the various components of Chave's 2018 Hermitage were still separate, I've given a rating that reflects the variability I saw when tasting through the barrels and made a guess regarding Jean-Louis's blending sensibilities and available volumes. For example, the Péléat (92 - 94), a pretty, red-fruited element could add freshness but is likely to be a small portion of the blend (if it's even included). More impressive were the lush, mouth-filling Les Beaumes (95 -97) and stony, elegant Le Méal (94 - 96). Lots from L'Ermite (98 - 100) and Les Bessards (98 - 100) will likely make up the bulk of the blend, oozing with liquid stone, intense blueberry and cassis fruit, and possessing firm yet ripe structures. ~97-100 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Tasted in components. #1, from Peleat: suave and highly perfumed, with distinct red fruit preserve and floral character. Smooth, seamless, and almost Pinot-like in its vibrant and weightless character. Extremely well-hidden tannins come in late. #2, from Les Beaume; #3, from Ermite, #4, from Meal, #5, from Bessards. ~97-98 Vinous Media
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