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.
Jean-Louis Chave had done some pre-blending of the 2017 Hermitage at the time of my visit, meaning several parcels had already been combined with others, so there were fewer components to taste. A sample that included some L'Ermite, Les Beaumes, and Péléat was fragrant, loaded with peppery spice, and came across as slightly open-knit (93 - 95). A second component, mostly Le Méal, was richer and riper-tasting, with lush fruit and hints of roasted meat (97 - 99). Finally, a sample Jean-Louis described as "more the core of the blend" (mainly Les Bessards) was simultaneously firm and generous, with notes of crushed stone, cassis, and licorice (98-100). ~96-99 Robert Parker
Not yet bottled, the 2017 Hermitage shows a much sunnier, more exuberant aromatic profile with loads of cassis, kirsch liqueur, toasted spices, cured meats, and dried earth. These give way to a full-bodied Hermitage that has a stacked mid-palate, loads of sweet fruit, and building tannins, all while holding onto the class, elegance, and purity that’s the hallmark of this incredible estate. This is another wine where I question if it will ever shut down, but certainly, the safe money is on giving bottle a good decade in a cool cellar. ~96-99 Jeb Dunnuck
Aromas of graphite, tar, dark chocolate, and black cherries abound, as well as ripe dark plums. This is a very convincing and complex edition of this wine. The palate is so concentrated and has a super deep, plush, and fleshy stream of fresh plums and blackberries, as well as a swathe of fine tannins. Profoundly rich and velvety with a strong backbone. This will age for more than two decades after release. ~97-98 James Suckling
A fairly straightforward vintage for Jean-Louis. 'Everything was nice', he says about the growing season, which was very warm during the summer but with enough rain at the right times. A barrel tasting of the main constituents shows a powerful, lush but stately Beaumes; a fine, red-fruited and finessed Péléat; an extraordinary Ermite of serious acidity and svelte tannins; an opulent, solar Méal; and a straight, peppery Bessards. The overall impression is a lush, rich, almost jovial style of Hermitage, one with a good inner spine but generous, velvety, rich black fruit. Drinking Window 2027 - 2044 ~98 Decanter
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