1998 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage

SKU #1014730 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 1998 Hermitage is also gorgeous, yet has more concentration and depth. Described as a 'granite year' by Jean-Louis, this puppy has searing, liquid rock-like qualities to go with ample dark fruit, gunpowder and flint. Structured, firm and backward, yet with a rock-star mid-palate and finish, give it another 3-5 years and drink bottles through 2028. Located in the tiny village of Mauves, just south of Hermitage, lies one of the true bastilles of traditionally made wines, and there are few vinous experiences that surpass getting to taste through the different terroirs of Hermitage and Saint Joseph in Chave’s cellar... Looking specifically at their Hermitage, the Chaves vinify each of their individual terroirs separately, and the components are all aged in small barrels before blending and bottling without being filtered. As is the norm in Hermitage, everything is completely destemmed, and the percentage of new oak is kept to a minimum, falling in the 20-30% range. The style here is beautifully transparent, with the wines always showing the vintage characteristics clearly (which Jean-Louis breaks into a 'Granite' year, or a 'Sun' year). 95+ (JD)  (8/2014)

95 points Wine Enthusiast

 *Cellar Selection* Opens with a vibrant berry, chocolate, Asian-spice, rosemary, olive and bacon-fat nose so good you linger before tasting. Sour cherry, licorice, brush, leather and a meaty note show on the palate. The wine is lean yet velvety, with powerful, deep structure. It closes with full, ripe tannins, notes of black tea and pepper.  (11/2001)

94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Full ruby. Subtle, extremely complex nose melds cassis, bitter cherry, licorice, menthol and gunflint. Great purity and class in the middle palate, though extremely young and not currently showing the texture of the unfinished '99. But this is utterly compelling syrah, finishing with superb length and extremely fine tannins for the vintage. The '99 may be more pliant in the early going thanks to its sweeter tannins, but I'm not yet convinced it will surpass this brilliant '98. 94+ (ST)  (1/2001)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Offers very enticing floral, dried currant, cherry and blood orange notes, with twinges of cedar, mesquite and clove. Lots of perfumy spice, but no edges. Supple and polished. Fully mature, but with the balance and freshness to hold here a while. (JM, Web-2012)

K&L Notes

97 points Neal Martin's Wine Journal: "Another fantastic Hermitage from J-L Chave, this bottle enjoyed at The Harrow Inn. Given ample decanting, one can see the multi-faceted nature of this wine. A deep garnet core. A sensuous, beguiling bouquet just soars from the glass; dark cherries, game, thyme, rosemary, liquorices and a hint of white fennel. The palate is full-bodied with svelte, lush tannins but counterbalanced by a robust structure that suggests this is a long-term Hermitage. Wonderful balance, cashmere texture, almost Burgundian towards the finish. A delirious wine. Drink now-2030." (09/2009)

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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.


- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them. Click for a list of bestselling items from all of France.


- Legendary wine-producing region in southeast France. Stereotypically speaking, Rhone wines are high in alcohol, and the majority produced is red. The northern Rhone is best known for outstanding 100% Syrah wines from areas such as Cote Rotie and Hermitage, as well as for fabulous white wines from Condrieu (where Viognier is king). In the southern Rhone, look for spicy, full-bodied wines that are blends of Grenache, Syrah, and other varietals coming from appellations such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, or Rasteau. Wines labeled as Cote du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Village (a cut above generic Cotes du Rhone) are frequently found here in the US because they often represent some of the best values on the market. View our bestselling Rhone Valley wines.
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