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Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage Rouge, Rhône Valley, France, 2021

Regular price $360.00

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Overview of the Wine
Going back to 1481, when the first Jean-Louis Chave was gifted a vineyard in St Joseph by the nobleman Farconnet, 25 generations have farmed some of the best parcels in the Northern Rhône. Though now known as perhaps the best producer of Hermitage (and certainly among the best blenders in the world), the family only expanded to this famous hill during the mid-1800s wave of phylloxera that decimated Europe's vineyards. 

In the 1970s, when Gerard Chave took over from his father, the domaine rapidly achieved megastar status due to the extraordinary quality of his wines. Gerard's son Jean-Louis (25th of his name) now oversees the estate and has shown an ever expanding dedication to improving the already stunning quality of these rare wines. Jean-Louis Chave regularly dedicates the domaine to intense and exacting projects, the benefits of which will be seen by future generations. Indeed, the estate employs three full time stonemasons just to repair the traditional stone walls dotting the vineyards. 

Since the 1990s, Jean-Louis Chave has offered a second label known as 'J.L. Chave Sélection' that provides a glimpse of the reason for the estate's fame at a fraction of the price. Many of these wines are from declassified estate wine and long term farming contracts, and are vinified in the domaine's primary cellar in Mauves. 

Natural and Organic. 

Origin
Hermitage AOC, Rhône Valley, France

Grapes/Blend
Syrah

Winemaker's Tasting Notes
Chave is one of the latest to harvest, because he believes that tannin and extract are more important than acidity in giving the wine ageing ability. The grapes are usually destemmed to eliminate astringent tannins, but in a ripe year such as 1990, he may leave 50% of the stems. Fermentation and cuvaison lasts 2-3 weeks, with temperatures allowed to rise above 30°C, particularly at the end of the fermentation when extraction is critical. Chave uses a mixture of old open oak vats (with pigeage by foot), cement cuves and stainless steel (with pumping over), depending on the individual needs of each parcel. Malolactic fermentations may take place in vat or in cask, and press wine may or may not be blended back, depending on the year. The reds are aged 15-18 months in cask or in old Hungarian oak ovals of 1300 litres. A maximum of 10% new oak is used, but Chave prefers second-hand barrels which he buys from Christian Serafin in Gevrey-Chambertin. After careful racking, the blend is painstakingly assembled, with the discarded wine sold off in bulk.

96 Points - Decanter
A tasting of the constituent lieux-dits before blending was as instructive as ever. Péléat was smooth, silky and red-fruited with good acidity; Beaumes slightly meatier, a little less concentrated than a typical year, but with good tannic drive; L'Ermite was serious, dry and mineral; Bessards very strict, with tight, rigid tannins. The final blend is likely to produce a structural rather than generous style of Hermitage, with tannins that will need a long time in bottle to settle. This will be ascetic in youth, then complex and textural with age.

95 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
93-95 As is usually the case, I was able to taste the new vintage in its individual components, which is an incredible lesson in the terroir of Hermitage, and I continue to believe this is one of the most educational tastings I do every year. All of the samples for the 2021 Hermitage rated between 93 and 95, and this should be a classic, more medium-bodied, elegant, yet still substantial Hermitage. All of the single parcels show classic, textbook characteristics and possess ripe tannins and outstanding purity of fruit. I suspect this wine will be in the mold of the 2014, possibly the 2004. It should benefit from just short-term cellaring and have two decades of longevity.

Product size: 750ml

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