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J.L. Chave Selection, Hermitage Blanche, 2016

$75.99

Hermitage Blanc may be France's least understood great wine. There's very little of it. Hermitage is just one hill of about 330 acres and only around 20% of the production is white. 

In that context, the J.L. Chave Selection Hermitage Blanc "Blanche" is nearly a miracle. It's a legit Hermitage, mostly from old vines in a parcel at the top of the hill called Maison Blanche. And the Chave genius for terroir expression is on full display: the wine has all the classic Hermitage complexity, the range of flavors, the freshness and the weight.

"Limpid yellow-gold. Fresh pit fruits, lemon curd, jasmine and a frisson of chamomile on the deeply perfumed nose, along with suggestions of honey and succulent herbs. Pliant and energetic on the palate, offering intense peach, pear nectar and Meyer lemon flavors that become livelier as the wine stretches out. A smoky mineral note emerges on the impressively long, energetic finish, which leaves a hint of bitter pear skin behind." — Josh Raynolds, Vinous

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Is there any question that Jean-Louis Chave is one of the great geniuses of Syrah? His Hermitage is a benchmark wine for lovers of the Northern Rhone, and is among the top red wines in the world of any grape variety. In our dream world we would put cases of his Hermitage in our cellars and drink older bottles on a regular basis. But we can’t. The wine is too rare and too expensive.

Thankfully he makes a fully line up of top notch wine under his JL Chave Selections label that is delicious, affordable and ready to drink on release . . . every night if you want!

You might wonder: how can wines this good, from a true master, be so affordable? We frankly don't know. It's not as though the Selection series is some négociant side project made of bulk wine or neglected grapes. 80% of the fruit comes from Jean-Louis’s own domaine, and he farms much of the rest. These are wines produced by Chave himself, both in the vineyards and in the winery.

For much of the fruit Jean-Louis uses his domaine's young vines, which produce less tannic berries. And the sourced fruit comes from the AOC's northern corners, where the grapes are naturally fresh and elegant. Chave, of course, makes the wine with the same light touch as he uses for his Hermitage, in a style that emphasizes fruit purity rather than power. All of this helps to make the wines eminently drinkable on release.

Of course, with excellent balance of structure and fruit all these wines are good candidates for the cellar. But the idea is too drink the Selection wines over the next few years while waiting on the Hermitage, which is a masterpiece that will require many years of aging.

Professional Reviews

Antonio Galloni

AG 94
"Limpid yellow-gold. Fresh pit fruits lemon curd jasmine and a frisson of chamomile on the deeply perfumed nose along with suggestions of honey and succulent herbs. Pliant and energetic on the palate offering intense peach pear nectar and Meyer lemon flavors that become livelier as the wine stretches out. A smoky mineral note emerges on the impressively long energetic finish which leaves a hint of bitter pear skin behind. "

Details

  • Grape Variety

    Marsanne , Roussanne

  • Vintage

    2016

  • Size

    750ml

  • Farming Practice

    Sustainable

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