Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage 2008
Syrah/Shiraz from Hermitage, Rhone, France
Wine Spectator - "This is suave, with a smoldering tobacco note running from start to finish, while truffle, cocoa, braised fig and warm black currant confiture notes fill in the remaining space. Dense, but very silky along the edges, with remarkable harmony for the vintage. Drink now through 2022. 2,500 cases made."
International Wine Cellar - "Tank #1: High-pitched red fruits and flowers on the nose, including a spicy overtone. Lively and precise, with excellent clarity and powerful raspberry and cherry characteristics. Tannins arrive late and fade into the fruit. Tank #2: Bright red berries and cherry aromas, complemented by building spiciness and a hint of cracked pepper. Tank #3: Deep cherry compote and cassis scents are augmented by notes of licorice and smoky herbs. Dense and chewy, with strong tannic grip and lingering smokiness. Tank #4: Bright red fruits and flowers on the nose, amplified by strong spiciness and silky tannins. Very pretty and light on its feet. This will be the largest component of the final wine, which should be approachable relatively young. It will be assembled shortly and bottled in January, 2011.
The Wine Advocate - "The 2008 Hermitage is a down-sized version of Chave’s typical Hermitage, but it is, nevertheless, an elegant, mid-weight, pure effort exhibiting berry fruit intermixed with hints of black currants, herbs, pepper, meat juice and bouquet garni. When asked how they made such a fine wine in such a difficult vintage, the Chaves said that over 33% of the entire harvest was declassified. The 2008 is a wine to consume in its first 10-12 years of life, although I suspect it will last longer. "
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Jean-Louis Chave Winery
Some experts feel that the greatest maker of Hermitage is the firm of Jean-Louis Chave. The Chave family has been growing grapes at Hermitage since 1481. They have a reputation for making good wine in poor years, and excellent wine in good ones. They use low yeilding vines (average age 60 years) and a late harvest to produce the ripest fruit, and there is virtually no intervention in the winemaking and bottling with no filtration.
There are a dozen or so named vineyards in Hermitage, and Chave owns vines in most of them. They vinify each separately, which allows them to blend for greater complexity before bottling. View all Jean-Louis Chave Wines
About HermitageView a map of Hermitage wineries (EHR-me-tahj) and Crozés-Hermitage (krohz EHR-me-tahj)
Notable FactsSyrah is the only varietal permitted in the red wines, while whites are typically blends of both Marsanne and Roussanne. All three varieties grow on the Hermitage hill. The red wines of Hermitage are powerful, age-worthy wines, often commanding prices similar to those of top Bordeaux. They are big in fruit and tight in tannins, but with a few years of age (from three years to three decades) they are beautifully complex, perfumed and sensuous. Their whites are somewhat mineral-driven, and depending on the blend, may have an almost oily texture (in a good way!).
Like the island of Manhattan, once all the land of Hermitage is gone, the land is gone – hard to create sprawl from an already established hill. So winemakers planted in the vineyards surrounding Hermitage, in the much larger and flatter appellation of Crozés-Hermitage. The area produces wines of the same make-up of Hermitage – reds from Syrah, whites from Marsanne and Roussanne. Red wines are allowed up to 15% of the white varieties. Some of the reds are full of fruit flavor and ready to drink now, while others are trying to follow Hermitage, by making wines with lots of power and longevity. The whites are few, but enjoyable with good fruit and the same texture of those from Hermitage.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold