2016 J. L. Chave Hermitage Blanc

Year: 2016
Appellation: Rhone
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 98
Wine Advocate: 98
Vinous Media: 97-99
Jeb Dunnuck: 100
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :
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"Remarkably concentrated yet poised, with acacia and honeysuckle notes leading the way for a core of creamed melon, quince, mirabelle plum and white nectarine flavors. The long brioche- and salted butter–fueled finish shows terrific cut for a wine of this weight, ending with a lingering beeswax hint. A stunner. Best from 2022 through 2045. -J.M" (WS)

"Bottled in August, Chave's 2016 Hermitage Blanc is a tremendous wine. It's a bit closed on the nose (bottle shock?), but it wows on the palate, rocking it with seismic waves of super ripe pineapple and melon fruit and more than a small dose of what I can only describe as magma-like essence of stone. It's full-bodied and mouthfilling in its richness, yet it never seems heavy or overdone. Remember that yields were constrained by hail, so don't delay in procuring whatever your budget will allow.

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)

"#1) Rocoules: vibrant and sharply focused, showing intense pear, tangerine and floral character with a potent mineral overtone. Taut and linear but puts on weight with air. Sweeter on the back end, which leaves suave peach and pear nectar notes behind. #2) Peleat: fresh melon and peach qualities underscored by spicy ginger and smoky mineral notes. Juicy and focused, creating a superb interplay of weight and nerviness. #3) L'Ermite: highly energetic and mineral-driven, showing deeply concentrated citrus and pit fruit qualities and a sexy floral accent. Becomes spicier on the back half and shows outstanding delineation and floral lift. At this stage I'd call this wine the equal of the unreal 2015 and I wouldn't be surprised if I preferred the final wine, assuming it maintains its uncanny blend of depth and minerally cut." (VM)

"There's not much of the 2016 Hermitage Blanc to go around due to hail in the springtime, yet the resulting wine is another magical effort from this domaine. Bottled in August, it opens up with a fabulous blast of quince, white flowers, buttered citrus, licorice, and exotic spices. These all carry over to the palate, where the wine is full-bodied, rounded, and incredibly sexy, with a layered, mouthfilling texture. It doesn't have the sheer weight of the 2009 and 2010, but is deep, opulent, with plenty of fat and glycerin, and straight-up awesome purity of fruit. If you're lucky enough to have more than one bottle, it's an incredible drink today and should continue to shine for another 2-3 years. After that, I'd hold off for a good 6-7 years or more.

Taking over the from his father, Gerard Chave, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the brilliant Jean-Louis Chave continues to keep his family estate at the top of the heap in regard to true reference point estates in the world today. Drinking a mature Hermitage from the Chave family is one of the greatest wine experiences a wine lover can have. These are majestic, singular wines. And while it would have been easy to rest on his laurels and reputation, Jean-Louis has done nothing of the sort and has worked tirelessly at the estate, overseeing the creation of a new cellar that was completed in 2014 as well as resurrecting numerous new vineyard sites in Saint Joseph, which are just now coming largely online. In addition, he and his wife, Erin Cannon-Chave, have created a négociant label called Chave Selection that offers fabulous bang-for-the-buck and includes both Northern and Southern Rhônes. Looking specifically at their Hermitage releases, the grapes are always destemmed, with the individual terroirs vinified separately in stainless steel and aged in small barrels, most being used. The percentage of new oak has decreased over the past few decades and today hovers around 20-30% new French oak. Blending occurs a few months before bottling, and the wines are unfiltered.Looking at the vintages reviewed here, the 2015s are from a magical vintage in the Northern Rhône, and both Hermitage releases are as profound as wine gets. The Cuvée Cathelin is a deeper, richer, more exotic wine, but good luck finding bottles in the market. I include that wine in the handful of greatest young wines I’ve ever been lucky enough to taste. The classic Hermitage is more classic and elegant, with a rare sense of minerality, structure, and concentration. These are both Desert Island wines. The 2016 Hermitage shows the more elegant style of the vintage, but certainly isn’t far from the 2015. In addition, this estate continues to be a bastion for true Hermitage Blanc, and the 2016 Hermitage Blanc delivers the richness and depth as well as minerality that can only be achieved from this magical hillside. Thankfully, this estate has ignored the ridiculous trend over the past decade toward producing so-called “fresher” and more “elegant” wines. The 2017s showed beautifully from barrel and have the sunny, upfront nature of the vintage. They don’t have the sheer density of the 2015s, but they have more sex appeal than the 2016s. In short, you can’t go wrong with any of these wines, and life is too short not to drink as much Chave as you can!" (JD)