Tank #1: High-pitched red fruits and flowers on the nose, including a spicy overtone. Lively and precise, with excellent clarity and powerful raspberry and cherry characteristics. Tannins arrive late and fade into the fruit. Tank #2: Bright red berries and cherry aromas, complemented by building spiciness and a hint of cracked pepper. Tank #3: Deep cherry compote and cassis scents are augmented by notes of licorice and smoky herbs. Dense and chewy, with strong tannic grip and lingering smokiness. Tank #4: Bright red fruits and flowers on the nose, amplified by strong spiciness and silky tannins. Very pretty and light on its feet. This will be the largest component of the final wine, which should be approachable relatively young. It will be assembled shortly and bottled in January, 2011.
The early assemblage – not yet finished. Much lighter and fresher and more sinewy than the 2009 components. Fresh fresh fresh! Lots of acidity, drier. Lighter, fondu tannins.
Anticipated maturity: 2016-2030
Robert Parker 90
The 2008 Hermitage is a down-sized version of Chave’s typical Hermitage, but it is, nevertheless, an elegant, mid-weight, pure effort exhibiting berry fruit intermixed with hints of black currants, herbs, pepper, meat juice and bouquet garni. When asked how they made such a fine wine in such a difficult vintage, the Chaves said that over 33% of the entire harvest was declassified. The 2008 is a wine to consume in its first 10-12 years of life, although I suspect it will last longer. Tasting through the different Hermitage vineyards (including Peleat, Les Beaumes, Meal, l’Ermite and Les Bessards), the lowest score any of these lots received was 94-96 (Les Beaumes). The other parcels all merited 97-100 points. The most dominant component part of Chave’s red Hermitage comes from Les Bessards, which many consider to be the greatest vineyard on Hermitage Hill. The next largest is Meal, a vineyard with a more southerly exposure. While Chave has not made their special cuvee, Cuvee Cathelin, since 2003, I suspect one will emerge from the different lots of Les Bessards that I tasted as 2009 is certainly a year where enough wine can be culled out for the Cathelin without sacrificing the monumental quality of the regular Hermitage. This looks to be one of the wines of the vintage, which is not surprising given the fact that the Chave family has more experience than just about anybody in the winemaking world (the domaine was founded in 1481 – nearly a decade before Christopher Columbus discovered America!). Importer: David Shiverick, Los Angeles, CA; tel (213) 483-5900
Anticipated maturity: 2011-2023