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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.
As usual, the 2019 Hermitage remained largely as separate components at the time of my visit. Some pre-blending had occurred, so I tasted a combination of Beaumes and Péléat, as well as components from L'Ermite, Méal, and Bessards. Uniformly full-bodied, concentrated, and long, with rich, velvety tannins, dark-fruit flavors (cassis, blueberries, boysenberries), and hints of crushed stone and licorice, comparisons with 2003 aren't unreasonable. ~97-100 Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A potential candidate for the wine of the vintage, the 2019 Hermitage is a massive, full-bodied, yet mineral-laced and undeniably classic wine from this estate. All of the components showed incredibly well, with the Le Méal offering classic sexiness, the Hermite being straight and focused, and the Bessards just as good as any Syrah out there. It shows the ripeness of the vintage, yet the purity of fruit is incredible. It’s another magical wine in an incredible series of awesome Hermitage from this family. ~97-99 Jeb Dunnuck
Tasted in components, as usual. #1, from Peleat: spice-accented cherry and blackberry, with a vibrant mineral note in the background. Taut and sharply focused, showing tension to the bitter cherry and red berry flavors. The mineral note comes back strong on the back. #2, from Les Beaume: deep-pitched cherry and cassis qualities, plus a spicy nuance and a touch of dark chocolate. Rich but lively on the palate, offering densely packed bitter cherry and black currant preserve flavors and a touch of licorice. #3, from Ermite: extremely suave and expansive aromas of ripe red and blue fruits and exotic spices, along with a sexy floral touch. Deep yet energetic, showing excellent clarity and floral back-end thrust. #4, from Meal: distinctly powerful, displaying an array of black and blue fruit qualities and hints of olive, licorice, and exotic spices. Seriously deep and sharply focused, showing bitter cherry, blackberry, and fruitcake flavors underscored by a smoky mineral quality. For all its power, there's real life here as well. #5, from Bessards: intense, mineral-driven cherry and dark berry character, with exotic floral and spice topnotes. Pure and incisive, showing impressive depth as well as fine definition and seamless texture. It's still early days for this wine, but the ingredients are seriously formidable, with an emphasis on richness but no lack of energy either. This is shaping up to be a stunner. ~97-98 Vinous Media
A tasting of barrel samples of different lieux-dits: Péléat, Beaumes, Ermite, Le Méal, Bessards. Long, slow fermentations due to the high potential alcohols this year, some barrels reaching over 15% - at the limit of what the indigenous yeasts can handle. Even the Bessards component, which is usually so strict and skeletal, is full of fruit this year. The last exceptionally hot year was 2003, which produced a wine that was highly atypical, with notably jammy fruit. That's not the case in 2019 - the fruit is fresh and lively. It's hard to make a judgement at this stage; the alcohol is high, and may always feel warming. Either way, it will provide great pleasure and impact, despite its extreme style. ~97 Decanter
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