The Chaves have been growing vines on the famous Hermitage hill for over 500 years. Gérard Chave took over from his father in 1970 and rapidly achieved megastar status due to the extraordinary quality of his wines. The estate is currently under the helm of University of California Davis graduate Jean Louis Chave , although his father Gerard still plays an active role. The domaine produces a red St Joseph 'Offerus' (made in equal proportions from senior vines in Mauves and St -Jean-de Muzols), an acclaimed Vin de Paille, but their reputation is built on their superb red Hermitage (Syrah with the addition of 15% white grapes) and white Hermitage (85% Marsanne and 15% Roussanne).
The Chaves own 15 hectares of vines on the Hermitage and crucially their Hermitage holding is spread across 9 of the 18 climates on the hill (incl. Les Bessards, the adjacent Le Méal, Les Roucoles, Maison Blanche and the monopoles L'Hermite and Peléat). This means that they can produce a blend which reflects the separate "terroirs" of the climates and is a perfect balance between aromatic complexity, power and finesse.
Jean-Louis Chave had done some preblending 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). Tasted: Dec 2019; Drink: 2021-2040; Rating: 96-99 Points; Joe Czerwinski; Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
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