Pre-Auction Dinner (Morini): Spectacular nose of rose petals and barbecue pit. Savory, peppery, smoky, just mouthwatering aromas. Big currant and blackberry in the palate. More smoke throughout. Robust and savory but also very pretty. This absolutely slays everything else in the flight. A moving glass of wine, wow. Making a strong case for wine of the night out of a very impressive line up including a flight of '99 GC Burgundies.
Northern Rhone blind dinner. Quite deep purple still. Aromatically a touch plastic with black fruit. Mid-weight, but very long towards alcoholic and slightly unbalanced. Ranked last and 1995 Chave did not score highly either. My second experience with this wine and neither impressed...
Rhone night at Nicolas. Deep red, touch of bricking at the rim. This was very similar to the 1983 served in the same flight, with more intensity, length and complexity. Very attractive nose of crushed violets, incense, smoke, roasted meats and blueberries. Again, I couldn't get the same enjoyment on the palate. I felt the wine lacked some acidity (maybe I'm just too used to Burgundies) and appeared a little clumsy. There was some good black and blue fruit, smoke, tar, wood and old leather on the palate, but nothing really exciting.
Ruby red with a lightly tawny hue, medium to light colour depth. Intense fragrance, earthy raspberries and blackberries, crushed wild herbs, strong damson, violets, tar and licorice. Smooth and delicate yet deep. Silky, very smooth, beautiful structure, with a gentle cleansing acidity and very fine tannins. Raspberries and blackcurrant, dark tar spice, earthy forest-floor, a lovely blend of fruit and spice with both delicate yet intense flavours. Stunning wine, drinking perfectly.
Elegant and integrated. Spice notes are pervasive but not primary. A lot of rocks and earth with dried mushroom and black truffle highlights. Does not show the same flamboyance as the '90 at this point but is a more balanced and poised wine.
Not sure what to think. Bottle in my cellar (60 degrees) since release. Barnyardy and almost stewed. Cork was wet 3/4 up. All that blew off after an hour, but still nothing special. Thin, flat and uneventful. A real letdown. Will reserve judgment and open another bottle. If tasted blind it would have been low 80's.
Cellared since release. Kermit Lynch import. Consistent with my prior experiences with this wine over the past 25 years -- a good bottle but not a great one -- the 1988 is much superior, as was the 1983 that I drank in the past year. Chave perfume, light body, pleasant, but no real depth. Fully mature.
Out of magnum. A beautiful, elegant, silky vintage with lovely red fruit flavors along with classic notes of smoky minerals, char and spice. Just a hint of dryness on the finish kept it from competing ith the best wines tonight in my opinion.
From magnum. Tingly spice and an umami stickiness to the nose. Dry leaves, dried porcini, blackberry, red and black plum. Overall a sweeter nose than the '90. Slight heat and harshness to the back of the nose. The palate has red plum and red cherry with a tartness that contrast the sweetness of the nose. One can almost detect ripe cranberry and tart red raspberry. A long finish with spice, dark fruit and pepper. A solid performance for this wine and while I found the '90 to be better overall, on this evening the '89 was a much more elegant wine.
Northern Rhone Night (Boca, Bukit Pasoh, Singapore): A bit of a pity – I thought there was just a slightest hint of TCA on the nose, with some wet cardboard notes starting to appear. That aside, it had a lovely, almost Burgundian bouquet of blueberries, dark cherries and little layers of earth and stone, with spice and garrigue and just that wild floral shade at the very edges that pulled one back to the Rhone. The palate still really, really shone though. Rich, layered and complex, yet beautifully fine and focused, with superbly cut and precise flavours of black cherries and dark berries laced with earth and stone. On the finish, a beautiful embrace of spice and flowers then wrapped around the back palate in a long, compelling end. The purest of all the wines we on the night, this had the typical elegance and transparency of a great Chave wed to the lovely warmth and generosity of the vintage. A beautiful wine, and one that probably still needs many years more in the bottle before it reaches its peak. I could not help wondering whether it could have been so much more if not for that faint haunting streak of TCA though.
Raid Len's Cellar #3: Olive, meaty, spice, smoke and cherry aromas - plenty of interest to it. The texture is fantastic on the palate, I really adore the flavour profile and the balance is excellent. Super length and depth. Good bottles of this are drinking well but will continue on well into the future.
Chave Dinner (Le Perigord): There's brett here. Not enough so that the wine is undrinkable, but enough so that it doesn't really show any fruit. Instead there's a lot of funky soil and earth and leather and herbs and spice. In the mouth it's quite savory and spicy and funky, and not bad in its own way, but nothing I would personally seek out.
A generous wine friend shared this with me in Seattle. The nose was roaring right from the time the cork was pulled. A very site-specific nose...you know what this is just from the smell. Great typicity - olives, meat blood, some porcini mushroom, and moist earth. Oh and more than enough fruit alongside all that. Plus pepper...always some, but at times quite a bit - nice! As the wine sat in the glass, some pleasant medicinal elements showed - a bit of cherry cough drop, and also some fresh band-aid traits. The palate of the wine shifted over the course of the evening, going from wide open at the outset to gradually tighter and more tannic. The wine was never terribly tannic, but the structural elements did emerge over a couple hours. This may be at its peak (not sure how much better it can get), but I expect this wine will remain on this plateau for many years to come...10+ I'd guess.
Dark red, slightly garnet-edged. Simply the greatest bottle of Hermitage I've ever had. The nose is complex and powerful and evolving every ten minutes. The power and texture and release in the mouth is astounding, balanced and huge. The finish may be the best part. We used three different glasses each to drink the wine over three hours, and each emptied vessel carries stunning aromatics. Worth the wait. Bottle #2 of three.
Anniversary weekend at Fearrington with Alan & Lehna. Another excellent bottle of this classic. Bright ruby in the glass, this bottle was showing the earthy side of Chave with wonderful stones and minerality but less fruit than previous bottles. 50+14+13+8.5+8.5=94
Chave Hermitage Dinner with Erin & Jean-Louis Chave (MK Restaurant - Chicago IL): From magnum. At its peak now, this was the best wine tonight, even if not the best wine for long-term potential. Ripe black berry aromas with plenty of spice and liqueur hints, followed by black berry and cherry flavors. Perhaps less complexity than some other vintages, but compensated by its great yum factor. WOTN for many, but I slightly preferred the 1998.
From Magnum, this was stunning and blew away over a dozen other vintages this night. This is why we collect and age wines. Dark rich zippy black cherry flavors with wonderful classic old world Syrah character. Tons of spice and nuance in a sleek slightly rustic package. Drinking beautifully on this magical evening with Jean-Louis himself. Thank you George.
Nothing much more to say about this wine that hasn't been said in other notes. Consider yourself lucky to have it or taste it. Stood up tall with the others in a flight that had 89 Bonneau Celestins and 89 Haut Brion. Three complete winners.
Beautifully complex aromatics of bloody meat, violets, mesquite, olive and thyme. Stony minerality. Palate is stunning - unbelievably silky, balanced and elegant. This is drinking so well - secondary aromatics, smooth and mature but still full of life. Amazing wine.
This bottle was in pristine condition. Absolutely terrific, complete wine. Light red color, light on its feet, everything you'd want from a Chave that's just hit the spot of early maturity. I think we all felt very fortunate being able to taste this wine. Asher declared this his wine of the year already. At Bruno Loubet in London with Asher, Nicos, Ian and Maureen.
Deep red core, translucent rim. Red berries, earthy spice, soft licorice and tar, wild herbs. Good wt, but silky from start to finish. Opened up after airing to show huge depth of flavour, plums and redcurrants, cedar, hint of tobacco leaf, licorice, graphite, blue ink. An earthy undercurrent suggesting age but still a fruit-driven gorgeous drink. Very special and with still years ahead.
A nose to die for with fabulous charcoal, charred wood, baconfat and smoke that I couldn't stop smelling. On the palate the wine was a bit angular with firm acidity at first but with air it started to show wonderful flavors of roasted meat, bitter chocolate, charcoal, black spices and woodsmoke. Harmonious and complex on the finish with a hint of black truffles and more smoke. Real finesse and elegance in this great vintage of Chave Hermitage that is close to full maturity.
Sometime's you get lucky with older bottles. This was probably the best example of 1989 Chave I have ever tasted. With about 90 minutes of decanting, the perfume exploded with earth, wild cherries, spice, pepper, herbs, pepper and stone. Full bodied rich, intense, fresh, balanced and long, everything was exacatly where it was supposed to be. Clearly, this was in the perfect place.
Bottle of Pain dinner (Ibiza, New Haven, CT): Phenomenal. This is everything I expect from mature Chave, incredibly elegant, polished and perfumed with layers of hickory smoke, meat, olives, red fruits and savoury brothy notes all coming together on the nose and palate. Absolutely seamless, a wine that's about intensity and power yet conveyed with a remarkable lightness of touch. Wow.
This is not the majestic 1990 Chave. But at half the price, and considering it's almost as good, if you're seeking a Chave with bottle age, this is wine to buy. With its sauvage, blackberry, cherry, earthy, leafy, peppery, fresh herb filled nose, each sip of this concentrated wine gets better and better in the glass. Combining power and grace, this is still young and fresh, but there is no reason not to pull a cork at this stage.
Still dark color, deep dark black and red cherries on the nose covered in earth,full mouth and long finish. The 89 and 90 is a great set of bookend Rhones, I really do like Chave's 89's. this wine has a good long life ahead of it
Dinner at Tetsuya's: Smoky and meaty aromas with black cherry and dark florals. The palate is right up my alley, it is wonderfully savoury with an overlay of powerful and expressive fruit with super texture. Right in the slot for drinking, but obviously still plenty of time left. Fantastic.
Great wine. At first, the smell beat the taste. Took about 1/2 hour for the wine to really open up. Acidity dropped, secondary fruit flavors came forward. Great wine. Drink now or for many years to come.
The body appears to be a medium reddish-ruby color; some bricking; a yellowish-brown rim. Immediately upon pulling the cork, there is a knock-out fragrance. And, as when previously tasted on multiple occasions, it has highly complex aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, fresh saddle leather, bacon fat, soy, smoke, violets, a touch of roasted game, herbs and spices. The whole ball of wax one would desire in a red Hermitage. Big, rich, intense and full bodied. Great structure and balance. A long and expressive finish. This wine has been stored at 56 degrees and had a miniscule ullage; no cork deterioration. Extraordinary wine!
Slighly lower fill than remaining bottles, with cork stained up about 3/4 the way. This was showing off right out of the bottle. Great nose of leather, game, and dark fruit. Lighter in color and on the palate than I would have expected (and vs. the '89 Chapoutier Pavillon), but really enjoyed it and it was perfect with food. A-/A
I’ve tasted this wine approximately six or seven times and it keeps getting better. This time I get a more developed color: a medium reddish-ruby color; bricking apparent. Yellowish-browning at the rim. A perfume-like fragrance on the nose, with highly complex aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, saddle leather, bacon fat (not overwhelming, but just right), violets, soy, olive, tar, herbs and spices.. Big, rich, velvety and smooth in the mouth. Just about perfect structure and balance. A long and lingering leather and bacon fat finish. Pairs very well with Christmas Turkey and all the trimmings. But, it is a wine to mostly appreciate by itself. The wine is getting close to the middle of its development plateau; should last for years. Monumental stuff and my kind of wine!
Dinner at Bourbon House, New Orleans. Dark ruby in color, this would have probably benifitted from an hour of decanting time. With time in the glass the wine opened to a smooth, rich and refined wine with well resolved tannins. Raspberries and minerals dominate this well structured wine. This tastes like the peak is still 5-10 years off but it continues to be such a compelling wine that it is hard to not open these now. 50+13+14.5+9.5+9=96
This is showing stunningly right now. Well integrated dark berry notes, a touch of smoked meat, cherry, florals and an abundance of spice. A very smooth palate throughout, sweetness of fruit and resolved tannins with a good bracing acidity. This is in a sweet spot right now, but it has all the elements to continue evolving for some time.
This was a fantastic bottle of this wine which can be very variable. The nose is incredible with notes of baconfat, black cherries and char. On the palate it has the texture of a Burgundy with wonderful mature syrah flavors of black pepper, baconfat, charred meats and forest floor. Finishes so complex and smooth. It takes a while for Chave's Hermitage to come around but when it does, it delivers a unique experience. Wow!
Dinner at Crush Wine Bar (Crush Wine Bar, Toronto, ON): Popped and poured, following over the next couple hours. Deep garnet in the glass, and more transparent than the Clos des Epeneaux served along side it. A touch of brick is present at the rim. Right from the test pour, I knew this was rocking. The nose burst out of the glass with a perfume of red fruits, a touch of blackberry, campfire, black olive brine, crushed rocks, underbrush, fresh cut grass, earth, cured game and with time, developing some exotic spice notes, subtle coffee undertones and a healthy serving of that illustrious ball sweat. On the palate, this was totally seamless, showing some moderate acidity, and some very light silky tannin on the long finish framed with red fruit, mineral, olive, smoke and underbrush notes. In the mouth, this showed extreme elegance, especially next to the more brute and rustic Burgundy. I was absolutely enamoured with this wine, and could not wipe the stupid grin off my face all night. For my tastes, this is good to go now, although, I would expect this to hold on for many years.
Deep, dark, opaque red with lots of blackberries and very ripe blueberry on the nose. A meaty and chewy mouthfeel with loads of texture and enormous tannic structure. Plenty of acidity here too, and this wine should improve quite a bit over the next 10 years.
Friday Night Brown Bagger (Rich & Dana's): Dusty crimson core, light bricking; quite a bit of fine sediment. Aromas of eathy red fruit- cranberry and cherry, with barnyard and herbal overtones. Balanced, with red fruit, roasted game and herb flavors and a long finish. Guessed Hermitage. Began to tire in the glass, developing a sour edge. Nowhere near as compelling as a bottle tasted a few years ago.
Dinner at Chef And The Farmer. Very dark ruby upon pouring. Medium plus body and very earthy at first with great minerality. With time in the glass the cherry and red berry fruit starts to explode. Nice acidity on a finish that lasts for minutes. A classic Chave that continues to drink extremely well. 50+14+14+9+9=96
From magnum. Decanted and drank over 4hours. Very young and has a long life ahead. Deep, dark and meaty nose of iron, black fruits, and smoke. Full body and the palate matched the nose. Did not have the depth nor the structure of the 1990. Long finish with plenty of grip.
Similar to my observations about 9 months ago. Deep, deep dark garnet body; a touch of yellowing on the rim; bricking development. A sensational and fragrant nose of blackberry, black cherry, fresh saddle leather, bacon fat, soy, tar, violets. herbs. Just about every thing you would want in Hermitage aromas and flavors. Big, rich and succulent in the mouth. An extended leather and bacon fat finish. I did not get the heat I observed last time. Exceptional wine. Pairs OK with a Prime Porterhouse steak, but the wine is more appreciable by itself. A great Friday evening!
Really hitting its stride now. Dark, meaty aromas of iron, black fruits, and smoke. Fullish body and a tad drying on the end, but it's not a rich wine like the 1990 - more structured and tight on the finish. But the energy and freshness is stunning. Grand Cru Burgundy weight on this one.
Acker BYO 2011 (Tribeca Grill): Smokey, bacon, and meaty on the nose. Not a great showing tonight - still showing young and tight. I have had spectacular bottles of this wine - tonight was not one of them.
Wow! Yellowing-purple on the rim. Deep, deep dark garnet in the body; some bricking developing. Fragrant aromas of blackberry, black cherry, saddle leather, bacon fat (initially a lot when first opened, but more subdued as the wine warmed), soy, tar, violet, herbs - highly complex. Big and elegant fruit in the mouth. Very nice finish (except for a very slight heat on the back palate) - about 30 seconds. Last consumed this wine at an NFL draft party in 2008, with wine friends. I think the wine should score higher, as it seems just a bit closed. Well stored. What a pleasure.
Slight funky nose initially but developed in the glass an earthy, minerally, red fruit nose. Brighter on the palate than the La Chapelle, and a bit more complex. Great length. As Jon mentioned, many layers.
Tasted blind. Dark red. Nose of coffee, tar, roast pork, menthol, black cherry, black peppercorn and tobacco. Full tannin and acid, balanced. Huge wine. Mouth-filling wine of enormous concentration and finesse. Seems extremely young; I'm guessing it's 1999 Chave Hermitage, but I'm off by ten years.Finishes long and with sustained power and nuance. The perfect drink after dinner with cheese, bread and salami at our fire tonight; it's -15 on the back porch at 9 PM. Many thanks to the Lowells for braving the elements and stopping by with this treat tonight. I'm spoiled.
Great nose - the definition of Northern Rhone Syrah. Very pure, very deep. This is a wine that is very informed by its high acid for structure and definition. It has laser beam focus. Racy in the mouth, this is just a baby. High toned and gamey in nature, this is a wine that requires more time in the cellar to develop all of the layers that the wine is capable of. Hints of raisins, eucalypt and tamarind. A touch of acetate (green corn husk). My wife took exception to the high acid nature of the wine tonight and thinks my score is a little generous - but I am marking on its wonderful potential. It has an amazing future ahead of it. I will open my next in 2019.
Koffmans-deep dark color, nose a great mix of spice and earth. very full in the mouth still with mostly primary fruits and and some leather and smoke around the edges. very long. very good wine, prbly wine of the night
1999 and 1989 side by side. Both were great, and the table was split. But tonight the 89 was beautiful, somewhat restrained, with not too much bret, and simply stunning. The 99 was very good, and continues to show why, over time, it may show as the best Chave vintage to date.
Dinner at Red Stag Grill, Asheville, NC. When this wine is on top of it's game it can stand up against any vintage of Chave extremely well. Tonight it was at the top of it's form. Dark ruby in the glass, this was open for business right out of the gate with no need for any decanting time. Olives and bacon were obvious on the nose and the medium-plus bodied palate was loaded with cherries and other fruit. Very long on the finish. All in all a spectacular bottle and a great match with the amazing elk tenderloin I ordered. 50+14+14+9+9 = 96
Pinot Smackdown 2010 (Ken's, northbrook IL): nose: very meaty and bretty nose that didn't really blow off along with tones of black cherries, smoke, and bits of soy. This seemed a bit weak on the nose and not showing too much
taste: medium/full bodied with good tannins and tones of roasted meats, black cherries, some brett, smoke and bits of soy. Well balanced, but not really jumping on the palate either
overall: This was a very bretty bottle and it didn't really blow off. Ken had graciously served this to us blind but didn't feel that this was a representative bottle
Chave at Palate (Glendale, CA.): This was the bad ass wine of the night. A misbehaving outcast, a rude wine. Started out funky as hell. This later lead to a wonderful perfume of spice, clove, nutmeg, licorice, dark red fruits, leather and touch of wet fur. The palate was long and rich with obvious acidity and a bit of unresolved tannin. Clearly drinking well with room for additional complexity and resolution of the tannins. A stunning wine.
Kitchen Table, Volt, Frederick, MD. A very odd bottle. At first a whiff of major TCA that seems to blow off but the wine goes through many phases over the next few hours. Next day, the bottle has settled some, While a "good" bottle of wine at this point it is no '89 Chave. Clearly there is something wrong here. Not Rated.
Clearly more interesting to taste than the Jaboulet, but this is way more tannic, way less savory, and way less fruited than other bottles I've had of this. The disturbingly large amount left in the bottle at the end of dinner testified that this was not a good example of this wine. Good examples of this won't have a drop in the dump bucket. I dumped much more than that. Forgot to note whose import strip.
Deep dark ruby. Brooding and powerful. Dark and red fruits, blood oranges, flowers, and anise on the nose. Beautiful depth and texture here. Meaty large scaled and impeccably balanced. At peak with a ton of time in hand. Fantastic. WOTN for me
Dinner at Central, DC. Very dark ruby in color, this wine was explosive upon opening with a terrific nose of olives and burnt stones. Deep, concentrated flavors on the medium bodied palate. Long on the finish. A very dark wine in nature tonight. Still has a very long life ahead of it. 50+14+13+9+9 = 95
Wino Guys Weekend (WGW) #3; 9/11/2009-9/12/2009: Almost opaque ruby/black colour. Aromas of tobacco, salt, black olive tapenade, black plums, spice, tar, and a hint of alcohol. Full-bodied, very smoky (woodsmoke/liquid smoke), with tobacco, licorice, tar, and prune notes. Amazing acidity to lift the wine off your palate. Long finish, ~50-60s with woodsmoke, tar, and prune notes. Amazing stuff! Not too far off the bottle I tasted a few years ago. 98 points easily, maaaaaybe eking out to a 99. Just behind the surreal 1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle it was paired with.
Wine Guy Weekend Chez Doktas Take 3; 9/11/2009-9/13/2009 (Collingwood, Ontario): Ah Chave. What a bottle. What an experience. This was not about flamboyancy but about power reigned in by finesse and elegance. This was my WOTW and the first bottle of a series of stunning competitors. Sweet tobacco notes, old car leather with some hints of flowers that you get in the spring. The tobacco and leather notes were overwhelming but very seductive. Cassis and tobacco and leather on the palate. Elegant. Suave. Stunning purity and pedigree. After 15 minutes in the glass, more fruit came through. Will improve over the next 5 years or more. Looong finish.
Dinner with Mom at Chef And The Farmer, Kinston, NC. Dark ruby in color, this wine was about as well balanced as a wine can be. Medium bodied with a silky texture and pure, clean, concentrated fruit. Ready to drink but not yet fully mature, the wine displayed aromas and flavors of black cherry, kirsch, violets, the telltale Chave minerality and a meatiness. Long finish. This is a sophisticated wine that like many 1989s from around Europe is a real home run every time out. Can't wait to drink the next one! 50+13+13+9+9 = 94
We drank the 99 and 89 Chave side by side. Tonight, the 99 smoked the 89. The 89 seems to have a lot of bottle variability, which I attribute partially to provenance and partially to the wine. Its always a moving target, but the range is decent to very good - not a bad range if you're not sure what you'll get.
Dinner at Coquette. Dark garnet in the glass with slight bricking at the very edges. A classic '89 Chave with the richness, the sweet fruit, the minerality and the long finish. Well integrated tannins when drunk with the food but the tannins stuck out every so slightly when the wine was drunk on it's own. Throwing lots of sediment. A Pointe today with many years of enjoyment ahead for well stored bottles. 50+13+14+9+9 = 95
Lunch @ the Ledbury- light ruby color, with edges lighter so no mistaking it for a new barrel sample, first whiff of the wine was a bit barny (ie bretty) with some underlying smokey dark red fruits. in the mouth very balanced, med acidity and long, the brett all there, saddle leather, smoke, and hanging on to some fruit. a lovely chave and great way to start lunch
Tried another '89 after one so-so bottle and 2 oxidized bottles. Again, the nose was off and the wine never really opened up. I am questioning the previous storage conditions of this wine before I aquired it, as heat must have played a part in affecting the 6 bottles I purchased.
This wine was disappointing, as we expected it to be spectacular, but we were completely underwhelmed. Three bottles of the '89 were opened for close to an hour before trying. This bottle had more than barnyard or brett on the nose...it was closer to sewer funk. It blew off somewhat, allowing the deep fruit and complex structure to stand out. This bottle was pleasantly palatable, but no one found it exceptional, or even great.
Mpls does Northern Rhone (Chave, Guigal, Jaboulet, Chapoutier, Clape, more): Double decanted a few hours before serving. Very similar to the 1986. Not nearly as good as a previous bottle of 1989 that I tasted. The nose gives an elegant blend of red fruit with a bit of funk. On the palate this comes across as tannic and closed. Plenty of structure and a long lingering finish. This bottle needed more time in the cellar.
Just a wonderful bottle of wine. Incredible aged, earthy flavors with notes of meat, game and spicy dark fruits. Still fairly tannic with just a hint of greeness but the smooth Burgundian-type texture and gorgeously complex finish win the day. Just entering its peak drinking window. 94+
dinner with brad england in minneapolis, brad's bottle. extremely challenged by brett, and muddled in the midpalate, seemingly short of fruit. brad states this bottle is off, but i don't have a reference, as it is the first taste for me.
Enchanting nose has aromas dark fruits, sweat, beef and minerals. Couldn't get my nose out of the glass. Palate is medium bodied and full of dark fruits, herb and some typical Chave sweat, funk. Terrific balance and length. In a wonderful place.
Underperformed just a bit....storage not perfect as the wine had about 2-3 years at room temp (70F) toward the end of its life (after pristine storage for the first 15 years....Very tasty but a little tired lacking a bit of complexity that I would expect.
Santa Barbara Dreaming: Moved on to dinner at Elements. A nice Santa Barbara restaurant, with a new chef (promoted the sous-chef), who should be good once he loses the salt shaker. I like salt, but wow. Paired the 89 Chave with the 94. The 89 shows meat, minerals, blood, basically the whole package. And what I really like about this wine is its restraint. Its got all that N Rhone offers, in a tasteful package. It was great from the beginning, but continued to show even stronger as the night went on. Love it.
Rednecks & Rhones Chave-a-thon. Dark ruby in the glass. The '89 Chave is always a great pleasure to drink and this bottle was no exception. Very rich and viscous with gobs of fruit. There's a clarity and depth to thsi wine that goes beyond what most vintages of Chave achieve. Drinks incredibly well right now but will continue to please for many more years. The perfect match with both Bob's lamb stew and Barb's venison in mushroom sauce. 50+13+13+9+9 = 94
atlanta blue nose group hermitage tasting which included 88,89,90 chave, 88, 89, 90 jaboulet la chappelle, 89, 90, 91 sorrell le greal and 89, 90, 91 chapoutier pavillon. second or third best wine of the night. plenty of luscious fruit and plenty of time left to drink. delicious.
Tasting Group Dinner - Burgs & Rhones at Heidi's (Heidi's, Minneapolis): Another fabulous bottle, very nearly as wonderful as the one (from another source) I opened a few months ago. Elegant, high-toned cherry fruit, earth, and horse/barnyard in the background. Layers of spice. Gorgeous texture. Incredible finesse. Started to tighten up and turned more primal after an hour or so of air. Fantastic stuff.
Dinner at Heidi's (Kistler, Dujac, 90 Centenaire, 61 Jaboulet Cedres, Chave, and others): An awesome bottle of wine. The nose gives an intense and complex expression of black fruit, iron, smoke and floral notes. This is another wine you could smell all night. It is equally good in the mouth. Extremely elegant -- silky smooth. Possesses great fruit concentration yet good structure yielding the sense of perfect balance. Still holding on to some tannin. Great finish. Thanks to Steve for sharing such a great bottle of wine.
Syrah Tasting w/ Bob Macdonald (David Anderson's House, Minneapolis): Paired with a fantastic 90 La Chapelle, this took things to an even higher level. High-toned, dense, soaring red fruit on the nose. Gorgeously sappy red fruit, almost Musigny-like in its density and dimension of flavor. Animal, earth, freshly chopped mushrooms, baking spices, and wave upon wave of complex flavors. Unreal texture - silky, smooth, and packed with minerals. Endless finish. A stunning Chave with many more years of life ahead. WOTF and WOTN for everyone. Group average 19.5/20; #1 of 7.
Dinner at Fearrington. Dark ruby in the glass with a very slight lightening at the edges. This great wine had a most attractive nose with a mixture of meaty notes along with minerality and very ripe berries. Medium+ bodied, the rich palate exhibited more ripe fruit and a terrific verve to the acidity. Impeccable balance. Very open tonight and as always displaying a great elegance. Long clean finish. Drinking extremely well now but many years of further development lay ahead. This wine never disappoints. 50+13+13+9+9 = 94
Beautiful violet, brilliant color. Extremely fragrant nose of horse leather, blackberry, black olive. Medium bodied, balanced, still very lively tannins, fresh long finish. Beautiful and classic Chave. Can't I afford this for life?
Torbreck Tasting with David Powell (Table 6, Denver CO): Wow, the aromatics on this wine are just about as good as it gets with rich, spice laden red and black fruit mixed with some serious dirt, smoke and raw meat aromas. Full bodied and beautifully textured, it's precise, pure and almost silky with a long finish. Drinking perfectly and I love it.
Sublime. Brownish/ruby with an amber rim. Nose is tremendously complex and fragrant... Strawberries, dried rose petals, creosote, lilacs, bacon fat, smoke -- I kept finding new ways to interpret what I was smelling. Fascinating. Very long, taut, sweet but substantial acidity. Tannins have mellowed to a whisper.
Dinner at St Jacques. Dark, dark ruby in the glass. At first it was showing a little tannic but with a little decanter time and a little glass aeration time the fruit and minerality were center stage. Classical Chave with minerals, black olives and ripe fruit in a medium bodied package. The tannins, which started off in focus quickly fell to a background role. The tannins were always obvious but in a very elegant way, just a reminder on the palate and on the long finish that this wine still has many years of pleasurable drinking ahead of it as those tannins continue to be shed. With the "Ravioli Whittington", a ravioli filled with veal and foie gras in a slightly creamy sauce, the wine was a perfect match. The richness of the dish really brought out the richness of the wine, and the food/wine came together as this tour de force of richness and deep flavors. This bottling seems to keep getting better and better each time we open one. 50+13.5+14+9.5+9.5 = 96.5
The French Laundry...21 Courses, 11 Wines, Infinite Memories; 7/21/2007-7/22/2007 (The French Laundry (Yountville, Napa Valley, California)): Being at the French Laundry in celebration of Amy Emery's 40th birthday, how can it get better? Well it does...how about rouelle of Four Story Hills Farm poularde, wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, royal Blenheim apricots, cipollini onions, tarragon and Dijon mustard? Follow that with tete de cochon, with melted Swiss chard, potato puree and bliss maple syrup. What would you serve this with? The perfect match, of course…the Chave Hermitage 1989. Deep red in color with a garnet rim, this spectacular wine showed my "4+" bouquet of chocolate, black and red fruits, pomegranate, underbrush and a touch of menthol. Full-bodied on the palate, with medium acidity, big ripe tannins and a long, smooth finish. This wine warrants a very conservative 95+, as it is still clearly on the upswing. For anyone lucky enough to have this in his or her cellar, my personal recommendation would be to not open it before 2010. It should drink beautifully until 2025 or beyond. Amy had a big smile on her face at this point.
Fine ruby color with slightly fading edges. Somewhat reticent nose of high-acid cherries, black licorice and earthy slate. Needed to be decanted for an hour before starting to show it's stuff. Surprisingly quite lean compared to the '88 and "90 both tasted recently. This is actually the highest acid, most backward wine of the trio. Will probably never match the purity and complexity of the '90 but it's a big wine loaded with bright acidity and a delicious, intense, juicy finish. The flavors match the nose and the wine seems to need lots more time.
Double decanted about 3 hours before the flight, this dark ruby red/purple wine turned in a bravura performance and was probably most taster’s second WOTN. The wine showed a fragrant expressive nose of blackberry and forest floor, with high-toned notes of spice and violets. In the mouth, wonderfully alive, with the sheer concentration of ripe fruit admirably balanced by its bright acidity and the almost gravelly mineral tastes on the back end. A great wine, with plenty of years ahead of it.
"Chave Hermitage Magnums dinner." In the first flight of reds we had the 1990 and 1989 from Magnum. The 1990 was an explosion of flavour in the mouth. A wonderful bottle. Great focus and intensity, laced with acidity. Meaty power with balance and refinement. Still quite youthful, both in appearance and taste. The finish is long, deep and delicious. “Regal authority”, someone said. The 1989 was slightly more reticent. I wondered if it needed more time (and this a 17 year old wine.) Smoky bacon and a hint of barnyard. Hold it in your mouth and feel the power. If it did not have quite the immediate impact of the 1990, it was still delicious. The long aftertaste is faintly spiced. Without much in the way of tannin the finish on these wines is like the smile on the face of the Cheshire Cat – it lingers without any apparent means of support, then slowly fades. Around the table, opinion seemed split between the 1990 and the 1989, but the 1990 was definitely my WOTN. (Never mind WOTN, the best Hermitage I have tasted…..to date.) It was great to taste them with food – no question that the these wines lift the food, and vice versa. (Ravioli of Grouse and Chanterelles with Pumpkin Puree, by the way.) Is there something Burgundian in these wines? Not in the flavour, but in the weight, the levels of acidity, and the lack of reliance on tannin. ve Hermitage Magnums dinner."
In light of my experience with the last bottle of this wine, I poured this bottle right into glasses without decanting. It came out of the bottle a little befuddled, with a forceful nose of "Hermitage funk:" moss, wet leaves, and other artifacts of the forest floor. On the palate, it was similarly unidimensional at first. However, after just a few minutes, the wine found its balance, and was one again the gentle, complex, Burgundian beauty that I drank the last time. After about two hours, the wine once again seemed to start fading away, with the fruit disappearing first, then the pine, moss, and licorice, leaving only a nice gravely finish. As I reached the bottom of the bottle, it seemed to be entering yet another phase, this one once again dominated by that powerful Hermitage funk, though this time with some acidity and gravel left for balance. Was it struggling to reach a new, even more interesting stage of development? Or was it just about to degenerate into the foul, vinegary swill that was left at the bottom of my last bottle? I don't know. I'm not so good at gauging these things. Parker says to drink it from 2005-2030, and John Livingstone-Learmonth (author of the wonderful Wines of the Northern Rhone) says 2013-2017. Both of these writers have far more experience and knowledge than I. And other reviewers here seem to feel that this wine has a lot more life in it. Still, it's hard for me to believe that I should hold onto my remaining bottles for too much longer. Perhaps my batch experienced some suboptimal storage conditions at some point in its life?
St John Offline (St John, London): Very perfumed, dense dark summer fruit, very strong acidity, but beahind it lots of beautiful fruit and a big tannic structure, a burgundian Hermitage. Beautiful now but I think the gamey notes will begin to come to the fore now.
Suckling Pin Dinner at St. John (London, UK): Medium ruby in color and throwing a fair amount of sediment. Medium to full bodied and the richest of the Chaves so far. Medium plus length on the finish, I think it will get longer with age as it adds more complexity. Drinks much younger than the '83 at this point but seems to be in a really great place as it has been with previous bottles the past few years. 50+13+13+8.5+8.5 = 93
I poured this bottle into a decanter, and then started drinking it right away. It was a gorgeous bottle. Incredibly seductive nose. A very gentle, feminine wine on the palate, with subtle, restrained Burgundy-like fruit and just a bit of pine and moss to identify it as Hermitage. Medium-bodied at most. Don't pair this one with red meat and heavily seasoned sauces! Two hours after pouring, the wine turned into a metallic, tangy, vinegary, mossy beast -- most unpleasant. And two hours after that, it was really foul, not even fit for cooking with. I have several other bottles of this wine, and I'm going to drink them soon, without decanting.
SAG (Blind) Tasting (Chez Weber - Chicago IL): Blind tasting. Inviting aromatics to start were spice and red and black cherry. Spice continued on to the palate, where some great roasted meat flavors also emerged and the fruit transitioned into darker cherry and berry. Really well balanced and intense. Still lots of room to get even better.
Dinner at Zely & Ritz. Ruby/garnet in the glass. A very “Chave” nose. Medium plus in body, this wine was a beauty. Rich and glycerol on the palate and sporting a nose of earth along with dark, spicy berries. Very fresh acidity on the long finish. This is certainly past the primary stage but seems to still have some positive development ahead of it in the years to come. Will drink well for a very long time. 50+13.5+13+9+9 = 94.5
Light-medium garnet colour. Aromas of cinnamon, dried cherry, dried roses, cardamom. Medium-full bodied, with currant, spice, dried flowers, leather, and dried cherry. Elegant and silky, but still has amazing structure. Long finish, goes for minutes, with red fruit, cinnamon, and olives. Unbelievable. Tasted with Giacomo Conterno at Poderi Aldo Conterno on 06/08/2006.
Seattle Tasting Group does older Northern Rhône reds (Bellevue, WA, USA): This had a fabulous nose of beef blood, pine needle and minerality, and with more air layers of tarry and smokey black fruit come out to play, nice! OMG, the palate is rich and deep with layers of sweet fruit and smokiness. There was a certain roasted character throughout this wine, in a good way. The finish is powerful yet nicely resolved with no hard edge to be found. This was a thrilling wine that I would have liked to spend a whole evening sipping slowly.
This was packed with jammy, black fruit and spices. Very thick and concentrated. Dense, full-bodied wine. Great palate presence and a long, black, ripe, fruit filled finish. More bottle age will help, but this is beginning to show its charms.
Tasted at pre-anniversary tasting at our house. Chave is always a pleasure and this bottle failed to disappoint. Wonderful upon opening with no decanting needed. Earthy but in a way I really enjoy as opposed to the soemtimes dirty smells of Northern Rhines and Burgundies. Bacon, mushrooms, spices and meaty aromas lead to a palate that shows the class and elegance of age but with still vibrant and sweet fruit. Sweet cherries and a long finish close out this stunner. "Damn lovely" says Fred and what more can I add! Thanks to the always generous Steve & Barb for this most memorable bottle. 50+14+13+9+9 = 95.
Our third Chave of the night! Transluscent deep red hue. Nose is deep with game, leather, red fruits, and hints of earth. With food and air, the wine comes together with a meaty character. Clearly the best of the reds on this night.