1998 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage
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)
*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.
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)
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)
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)