2012 J. L. Chave Hermitage

Year: 2012
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 95
Wine Advocate: 96
Vinous Media: 94-95
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
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$239.95

"Black tea and warm ganache notes frame a core of steeped plum, blackberry and boysenberry fruit. Rather restrained at first, this picks up steam through the finish, as a well-embedded graphite edge emerges, letting the dark fruit and anise accents linger beautifully. A poised, polished, understated and precise version that will age deceptively well. Best from 2018 through 2027. -J.M" (WS)

"One of the more charming and forward efforts from Chave, the 2012 Hermitage sports a mostly opaque purple color to go with classic creme de cassis and blackberry fruits intermixed with notions of lead pencil shavings, violets and powdered rocks. Deep, full-bodied and sumptuously textured, with good freshness, this pure, elegant Hermitage shows more and more definition and cut with time in the glass, but never loses it's more fruit forward, charming profile. I suspect it will drink nicely for most of its life.

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)

"Tasted from its final three component tanks on the same day that the final blend was to be made: #1: Ripe cherry and dark berries on the nose and in the mouth. Fleshy, broad and smoky, finishing with strong cling. #2: Spice-accented cherry and cassis aromas, along with suggestions of cola and candied licorice. Sappy and seamless, displaying excellent back-end focus and lift. #3): Sexy, highly perfumed red fruit and floral pastille scents and flavors, with a peppery element adding urgency. Silky and fine-grained, showing excellent closing thrust and length. The ultimate wine should offer a suave blend of richness and vivacity, with textbook dark fruit, spice and floral Syrah character and the balance to age." (VM)


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