J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc: 1995-2000
Ideal Provenance - Unreal Prices - Surreal Wines
Luxurious, dizzying, quixotic, kaleidoscopic, even mysterious. Chave's great Hermitage Blancs need so much more time than you think, but when they finally reveal themselves...
We've confirmed this once again this week, popping corks on a pristine collection of back-vintage Chave as if it were the Fourth of July, corks from half-bottles, full bottles and magnums flying through the air instead of fireworks.
This email goes out today because if it didn't the parcel would disappear, through our own indulgence. (Seriously.)
Everyone who thinks they understand Rhône whites, think again. And think again seriously, because these are not just any Rhône Blancs; these are the flower-inspired monuments of the appellation, masterpieces from none other than Jean-Louis Chave.
We opened a 1995 Chave Hermitage Blanc on Wednesday that was simply epic; a five-plus hour adventure that went from rather tart and confusing to supremely elegant, a spellbinding mix of flowers, stone, complex citrus oils - sleek, waxy textures, incredible length. At 15 years of age the wine was still young, almost precocious, needing time and space to begin to stretch its beautiful legs.
Everyone on the staff, including the hard-to-please wine geeks, were in awe; Rhône whites, a category that for so many gets pushed into the shadows, have been redefined for the staff here. Thank you Jean-Louis!
Today we put these misunderstood greats in the spotlight with a rare collection that has been *perfectly* stored since release in the original importer's warehouse, every bottle is in flawless condition, every price is as sharp as it gets.
While Jean-Louis Chave's Hermitage Rouge is the more widely known bottling, today we strongly assert that his Hermitage Blanc is in its own way just as masterful - the top sommeliers' and wine directors' dirty little secret! These are some of my favorite white wines in the world, period. The key here, is time. The great whites of the Rhône inevitably go through a long "dumb" period, where they feel thick and heavy, where they are absolutely stoic - mute and curmudgeonly. Patience is the only remedy.
At the other end of this tunnel, however, awaits a very happy ending. These wines awaken incredibly elegant, with the caressing, voluptuous turns of a Meursault, yet with such a unique flavor-profile, one wound up in nectarine, peach, citrus oils, quince, marzipan, honey and a Rhône bouquet of flowers. The myriad changes and simply fantastical complexity of these wines also recalls the great whites of Lopez de Heredia.
I have had Chave Hermitage Blancs at 20 years and older; they seem to get only more and more seductive. A 1979 Chave Blanc at restaurant Drouant in Paris will be a deathbed memory.
Today's parcel is packed with some stunning Hermitage, just beginning to bloom. The 1995 Hermitage Blanc is the obvious treasure, it being perhaps "the finest white Hermitage Chave has ever produced," so says Mr. Parker. I have to concur that it is a simply incredible wine, every bit the master and commander of its reputation. This will be a thrilling treat in rare half-bottle format.
The 1998 is a formidable Chave Blanc; for the patient, especially in magnum. Yet, with another 5-10 years it has the kinetic energy of incredible potential. The 1999 and 2000 are more forward, luxurious, though these bottlings will also improve with cellar-time. Full notes on all the wines are below.
These great rare Chaves are all in stock. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to order.
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Quantities are extremely limited!
1995 Hermitage Blanc,
375ml & 750ml
Special 375ml Price: $74.95
Special 750ml Price: $149.95
Now compare ats available in the U.S.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate: "The 1995 white Hermitage had been assembled and was awaiting bottling. The wine is low in acidity, but fabulously rich, with an extraordinary floral, honeysuckle, peach-like fruit character. With awesome intensity and an unctuous texture, this may be the finest white Hermitage Chave has ever produced. It is powerful and extremely showy at present. Given its equilibrium and overall density, this wine should last 20+ years. Chave said the yields were a minuscule 20 hectoliters per hectare in 1995, versus 30 hectoliters per hectare in 1996 (about one-half the yield of most top white Burgundy producers' Chardonnay vineyards).
1998 Hermitage Blanc, 1.5L
Special Price: $249.95
Compare 750mls at $125-$150
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate: "A retasting of the 1998 Hermitage blanc confirmed its brilliant quality. It is an elegant, floral-scented, structured white Hermitage. It boasts fabulous concentration, but is less flattering and precocious than either the 1999 or 2000. If the latter two wines lean toward a flamboyant style, the 1998 should prove to be one of the more muscular, long lived, backward efforts requiring patience."
1999 Hermitage Blanc, 750ml & 1.5L
Special 750ml Price: $119.95
Special 1.5L Price: $259.95
Compare 750s at $130-$150
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate: "The 1999 Hermitage blanc is a glorious effort. It is a 1,000-case blend of 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne, all from Les Rocoules, Maison Blanche, l'Ermite, and Peleat. It is an oily, unctuously-textured wine with low acidity, fabulous, concentrated, honeysuckle, citrus, liquid mineral, and acacia flower-like flavors. The finish lasts for nearly 45 seconds. It will be gorgeous young, but evolve for two decades or more."
2000 Hermitage Blanc, 1.5L
Special Price: $264.95
Mags start at $295 in the U.S.!
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate: "A 1,000-case blend of 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne, the profound 2000 Hermitage blanc boasts a terrific perfume of honeysuckle, white flowers, peaches, citrus, and minerals. Displaying an unctuous texture along with tremendous glycerin, richness, and depth, it will undoubtedly close down after a few years in the bottle, but for now, it is a spectacularly rich, multidimensional white Hermitage to drink young, then forget about for 5-10 years, after which it will last for 15-20 years."
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All Chave is in Stock!