2015 J. L. Chave Hermitage

Year: 2015
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 98
Wine Advocate: 97
Vinous Media: 97
Jeb Dunnuck: 100
Red Wine
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"This delivers a broad swath of gently mulled blackberry, plum and boysenberry fruit flavors, inlaid deeply and seamlessly with anise, roasted apple wood, graphite and black tea notes. A mouthwatering mineral edge harnesses everything, adding refinement and cut. The extremely long finish has a wonderful sense of fine detail. Best from 2020 through 2040. 2,500 cases made.–JM " (WS)

"The 2015 Hermitage is in bottle and it's a profound, long-lived wine, although the 2017 may perhaps surpass it in terms of pure pleasure. The 2015 is a bit meaty and cedary up front, backed by a mix of berry fruit and spice variations. But what stands out is the wine's immaculate structure and balance. It's firm and tannic without being hard or unyielding, finishing with fold after fold of velvety richness. While the impatient can certainly derive some pleasure from it even now, I'd opt for cellaring it a decade or more.

Jean-Louis Chave graciously made time for an appointment, despite the fact that the 2018 harvest was underway, a vintage he was clearly excited about. "It's a very special year," he said. "Tremendous, amazing fruit." We started by sampling barrels of the 2017 Hermitage Blanc, then the mesmerizing 2016, which was bottled in August. I can't fathom how there can be so much less of this wine made than the red, yet it often sells for less. Wake up, people. Thomas Jefferson was right about this stuff when he wrote in 1791, “The white Hermitage is the first wine in the world, without a single exception.” If you're looking to prove that to yourself, try a well-stored example of the 1988, which at 30 years of age is just singing (full review below). We then moved into the 2017-vintage barrels of Saint-Joseph from Chave's own vineyards. The development of these sites near his home village of Mauves is destined to be Jean-Louis's legacy to the family business. For the moment, there are two bottlings, but more single-site bottlings may someday appear—perhaps in the not-too-distant future. Then on to the 2017 Hermitage barrels, a vintage Chave described as "a really good year." The 2016 Hermitage was still in barrel as components as well. Keep in mind that hail limited production, but the quality still looks outstanding. Finally, we tried the 2015 Hermitage and 2015 Cuvée Cathelin from bottle. Both are tremendous wines that are likely to outlive me. With four consecutive top-flight vintages (assuming 2018 comes out as projected), just buy as much as you can." (WA)

"Youthful purple color. Mineral-accented dark berries, star anise, cola, olive and pungent flowers on the explosively perfumed nose. Offers impressively concentrated, expansive flavors of black raspberry, spicecake, smoked meat and candied flowers that are complicated by licorice candy and dark chocolate notes that sneak in on the back half. Sweet, sappy and precise on the floral- and dark fruit-driven finish, which shows outstanding clarity and round, harmonious tannins that build smoothly and steadily." (VM)

"As good as Hermitage can get, the 2015 Hermitage from Jean-Louis Chave reminds me of a hypothetical mix of the 2010 and 1990 with its incredible purity, finesse, and elegant paired with awesome depth and structure. This heavenly wine exhibits a deep purple color as well as a powerful bouquet of crème de cassis, blackberries, dried violets, graphite, and crushed rocks, with a liquid mineral component that’s just about impossible to find outside of the Bessards lieu-dit in Hermitage. Full-bodied and massively concentrated on the palate, yet with laser-like precision and clarity, it needs a solid decade of cellaring and will keep for 40+ years or more. It’s not as sexy or overt as the Cuvee Cathelin, but is every bit as good." (JD)