2013 J. L. Chave Hermitage Blanc

Year: 2013
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 97
Wine Advocate: 97
Vinous Media: 96
White Wine
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$269.95

"Acacia, orange blossom, white peach and fresh ginger notes lead the way, followed by waves of honeysuckle, Jonagold apple, chamomile and lightly toasted macadamia nut flavors. The finish combines weight, purity, fruit and minerality as a quinine accent echoes. Best from 2018 through 2035. From France. -J.M" (WS)

"Chave's 2013 Hermitage Blanc had just been bottled prior to my visit. Always 80% to 85% Marsanne and the rest Roussanne, from the lieux-dits of Rocoules, Peleat, L'Hermite and Maison Blanche, it's raised primarily in barrels with a small percentage new. Loaded with notions of buttered citrus, white currants, liquid rock, white flowers and hints of honeysuckle, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness, beautiful freshness and purity, and a focused, clean, elegant profile that keeps you coming back to the glass. It lacks the sheer wealth of material found in blockbuster years like 2009 and 2003, yet is perfectly balanced, has loads of richness and a great finish. Give it a year or two and enjoy bottles over the following two decades.

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." (WA)

"Pale gold. Powerful, sharp aromas of mineral-accented pear, nectarine, orange pith and candied ginger, backed by hints of pungent flowers and iodine. In a bright, vibrant but concentrated style; a solid core of minerality adds cut and lift to the intense, impressively concentrated orchard and pit fruit flavors. Tightens up slowly with air and finishes dry, minerally and extremely long, leaving behind sexy floral and candied citrus fruit notes." (VM)


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