On Friday night Ian came into the back office and declared "I'm going to open my '04 Chave Hermitage Rouge" I advised against opening the bottle arguing that it would be a waste. The wine was way too young and would probably be shut down. I have had examples of mature Chave and patience is definitely rewarded. The bottle was a gift and for those of us who are lucky enough to work in the industry if you don't pay for the bottle you rarely feel guilt about cracking the bottle. Ian shrugged off my pleas for him to not make any rash moves. It was popped, poured into a decanter and off we went.
I could not wait to be cynical and jaded. I knew the wine would be closed and I could say "see I told you so, you should have waited" with great satisfaction. I can be a childish about these sort of things. At least I thought we could have opened it, given it more air time and maybe had it with a giant lamb shank.
But I couldn't be cynical, even with the depressingly bad weather of February. I poured myself a healthy glass and hide in the back office. The perfume was instantly satisfying and I knew that my tail would be between my legs for ever protesting. The nose within ten minutes was appealing and had all the signs of being terrific Syrah. Notes of cassis, black olive, anise, white pepper and minerals. The fruit was very pretty and elegant with great balancing acidity. I was shocked how lovely it was. This wine really should have been backward and austere. It had great balance and concentration, some said almost Cali like but I think it was more retrained then most Cali Syrahs. The structure was certainly present but it was integrated with the fruit quite well for being so young. And oh the minerals. An extremely well put together wine and a great example of why Chave is the king of Hermitage. The only question is, how much better will this get? Probably a lot, but who cares, it was darn tasty Friday night. Thanks Ian for sharing the bottle with all of us.
If cracking bottles '04 Chave for no reason seems a bit silly and frivolous you can always pick up a bottle Texier CDR or Edmunds St. John Syrah. Both are delicious, elegant examples of what highly perfumed Syrah can be like. And both are around the $30 price point so no guilty feeling or angry partner in the morning. Cheers all!