1996 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage
In 1996 this extraordinary producer of Hermitage made a wine for the long haul. At release, it displayed superb fruit, bacon, anise, and tobacco flavors, all enveloped by huge tannins. Now it is going through a dumb stage, though the structure is there. Give it ten or 15 years and it will become something extraordinary.
This has mouthwatering cut from the start, with white pepper, tobacco, iron and dried currant notes rippling along, showing still-vivacious acidity underneath and a long, mesquite- and cedar-filled finish that has excellent drive. This is a high-acid vintage and stands a bit apart from the flight stylistically.—Non-blind Chave vertical (June 2012). Drink now through 2020. (JM, Web-2012)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated, deep ruby-red. Aromatic, pure aromas of cassis, mocha, iris and Cuban tobacco. Supple and fruity, with the Burgundian floral aspect shown by so many Northern Rhône wines from this vintage. Very fresh and juicy; pure and sharply delineated. Not at all a southern style of syrah. A wine with excellent thrust but not a particularly powerful style of Hermitage. Very long, violety aftertaste. This should be slower to close down than the '95.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A late vintage that’s compared to 2013 by Jean-Louis, yet that carried more crop, the 1996 Hermitage is a juicy, medium-bodied effort that’s ready to go. Giving up classic herbed game, bacon fat and sweet fruit, it should continue to evolve gracefully, but there’s no reason to hold off here. (JD)
Lustrous ruby. Meaty, peppery, very evolved nose. Quite a bit of dryness. Nice to drink now. 17.5/20 points. Drink 2009-2027. (JR)