TN: 90 Chave Hermitage

Having popped a 91 Chave a couple of weeks ago (TN: 91 Chave Hermitage - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers" onclick=";return false;), what should I be served last night at a friend’s but the 90. Quelle bonne chance!

What a difference in vintage character. On the nose, the 90 is much richer and riper. There were the trademark Northern Rhone syrah violets, plus some quite piercing eucalyptus (!), and some marks of maturity – even a trace of tiredness in the nose. In the mouth, on its own it was surprisingly acidic, with a bit of Chave’s typical stemmy greenness. The acidity was a surprise given the ripeness of the nose. But drunk with gigot d’agneau provencale, the acid receded into the background and the wine became much more pleasurable. I’d give the nose 95+, but the whole wine doesn’t quite rise to that level for me because of that harshness in the mouth – just low 90s. Still, a treat.


Have not had one of these in a few years but what you described was similar to my experience. I was a bit thrown back as I expected a wine with a bit more richness and texture. I plan on trying one again before the end of the year and will post my notes. Thanks for the review.

I take it this was the East Coast importer’s bottle and not Kermit’s?

By chance, we had the 2001 Estate St-Joseph last night. What a wonderful bottle of wine – one of the primary examples of how great St-Jo can be. And to think that until Jean-Louis decided to get serious about the appellation about a decade ago, they always drank the wine with in the first two or three years. Even though I told them that it could age magnificently, they didn’t care, it wasn’t serious wine for them.

Just had this last week and had quite a different experience.

My brief notes “Big, rich, lush, great balance, still youthful but wow” A

no notes of provenance/source

I don’t recall seeing Kermit’s logo, so this must have been the East Coast import. But were there still different bottlings in 1990?

Yes. In fact, AFAIK, there always were as long as Kermit imported the wines. Kermit once tried to give me Chave’s party line that there no longer were separate bottlings, and I replied, " Really, then why when I visit do I see bins marked Lot 1, Lot 2, Lot 3?" Kermit had no reply. At one time in SF in the early/mid-2000s, you could find Chave’s Hermitage from different sources but the same year with different lot numbers on the same shelves. Finally, I once relayed these two stories to René Rostaing, who just laughed and said, “I know there are different lots because I was there with Kermit helping to select his cuvée.” (Obviously, this was before Rostaing [and Chave] left Kermit’s stable.)

I think Yapp, too, used to get a separate cuvée for the UK. I don’t know that that continues now that Robin Yapp has retired.

I would have thought Kermit would have been only to happy to tell people he selected his own barrels.

He did in his book. But Chave, I guess for commercial reasons, tried to stomp it out.

Hi John,

I have had a few bottles of this from different sources in the last couple of years, with some opulent, deep and really stunning on the palate, where others have been as you described, wtih great aromatic profiles and rather stern and ungenerous palate impressions. I once owned a case and a half of this wine in my own cellar from the Langdon-Shiverick lot (American east coast importer), and when it began to show that tight, slightly stemmy and ungenerous side on the palate, I sent it packing to auction. Subsequently I had bottles from both the UK and domestic French market sources that were off the charts in quality and a signficant step up from both my bottles of the '90 and the best bottles of the '91 that I have tasted- they were clearly from different and to my palate more interesting cuvees. Of course, I now wonder what would have happened with my Langdon-Shiverick cuvees of the '90 if I had just had the patience to stay the course for another decade or more. However, I did take the proceeds from the Chave sale and buy a case of 1993 Georges Jayer Echezeaux, but the wine was so damn good that I could not keep my hands off of it, and that is now largely gone as well- but at least good memories!



Here is Golodetz on an east coast bottle we shared 10 days ago:

“1990 Chave Hermitage Rouge
Expecting much more of a gap between the great 1990 Chave and the 1983. Turns out this is a great bottle but not flirting with perfection as expected. Yes, very lovely, and also unmistakably Chave. 96 points”

The nose on this wine was superb; still tight on the palate. The 83 Chave we had in the same flight was more in balance – I would think another decade or so would help the 90…

John and Henry – Phew! I feel so much better now for your comments. It seems vaguely sacrilegious to report a less than orgasmic experience with a Chave from a very good vintage.

" It seems vaguely sacrilegious to report a less than orgasmic experience with a Chave from a very good vintage.
John and Henry – Phew! I feel so much better now for your comments. It seems vaguely sacrilegious to report a less than orgasmic experience with a Chave from a very good vintage. "

Try having a similarly modest experience with a Vega Sicilia Unico :wink:

please forgive my ignorance and potential hijack of this thread, but what is the current (say, since 1998 vintage) state of affairs re: chave lots and which are meant to be the better ones or better importers?