Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage 2013

Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage 2013
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage 2013

94 - 97 Points

Jeb Dunnuck
30th Dec 2015
222, The Wine Advocate

Still in barrel at the time of this tasting, the 2013 Hermitage will certainly be one of the wines of the vintage. Offering classic, granite-induced notes of smoked dark fruits, graphite, searing minerality and bouquet garni, this sensational Hermitage has medium to full-bodied richness, beautiful mid-palate density and building tannin, all with the freshness and purity of the vintage. Reminiscent of a more backwards, tight, focused and granite-driven year (I asked Jean-Louis if there was a similar vintage he could recall, he commented that he couldn't think of one), it has solid ripeness in its aromas and flavors, good sweetness in its tannin, and a great finish. I suspect it will need 7-8 years of cellaring and keep for 20-25 years or more.

The reference point for classic Hermitage and Saint Joseph, Gérard and Jean-Louis Chave have just completed construction on a new cellar, which is located just across the street from their old cellar in Mauves. They’ve connected the two via a tunnel under the road, and the new cellar is quickly on its way to looking just like the old cellar -- with the same type of mold, smell and feel. Don’t underestimate this, as cellar conditions contribute plenty to the final wine (and style of the estate), and I always have a touch of trepidation when a well-known estate moves into a new cellar. I have no such concerns here. Looking at recent vintages, Jean-Louis calls 2014 a “friendly vintage” and goes on to comment that the year started beautifully, but everything changed in July with cooler, wetter and more volatile weather. However, September was beautiful. I was able to go through all of the different Hermitage parcels and they showed surprising density and tannic grip in what’s generally an easy going, mid-weight and charming vintage. Still, it’s certainly a more approachable, fleshy wine than the masculine, granite-laced 2013. Still not yet bottled (and there’s no set date for it to be bottled either), the 2013 Hermitage should surpass the 2014, although it’s in a more, as Jean-Louis would say, 'granite-style' and will require cellaring to show at its best. As I’ve written now for a couple years, this estate continues to invest heavily in Saint Joseph and are developing new vineyards as well as replanting old ones. Similar to his Hermitage release, I was able to taste the different vineyards that go into his Saint Joseph, and while he continues to release a single cuvee, I’ve no doubt there will be multi-single vineyards in the not too distant future.

2022 - 2038

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