The Chaves have been growing vines on the famous Hermitage hill for over 500 years. The domaine produces a red St Joseph ‘Offerus’ (made in equal proportions from senior vines in Mauves and St –Jean-de Muzols), an acclaimed Vin de Paille, but their reputation is built on their superb red Hermitage (Syrah with the addtion of 15% white grapes) and white Hermitage (85% Marsanne and 15% Roussanne). The Chaves own 15 hectares of vines on the Hermitage and crucially their Hermitage holding is spread across 9 of the 18 climates on the hill. The grapes are partially de-stemmed and then fermented in a combination of open wooden vats and cement cuves. The wine is matured in a combination of large wooden foudres and small wooden casks (a proportion of which will be new) for 12-18 months. All Chave wines are bottled unfiltered.
Tasted in components: #1, from Péleat: Smoky dark berries, violet and black pepper on the nose and in the mouth. Juicy and precise, showing strong mineral cut and an echo of smokiness on the back half. #2, from Beaume: Aromas of blackberry, candied flowers and licorice, with a stony quality adding lift. The berry and licorice notes carry through on the palate, which also features a hint of black cardamom. #3, from l’Ermite: Intensely perfumed dark berry and black pepper scents, with a deeper licorice pastille quality emerging. Sappy and focused, showing strong spicy lift to the black and blue fruit flavors. Expands nicely on the back half. #4, from Méal: Sexy red fruit and floral pastille aromas show excellent clarity and a hint of allspice. Fresh, penetrating and pure, with superb focus to its raspberry and blood orange flavors. Drinks like a ripe pinot and finishes with serious cling. #5, from Bessards: Displays powerful cherry and cassis aromas sharpened by a peppery nuance. Bitter cherry and violet flavors show appealing sweetness and good spine thanks to juicy acidity. Smoky and focused, with excellent back-end lift and cut. The final wine should be expressive and fairly open soon after release, at least by the standards of Hermitage, with very good freshness and precision. [92-94 Points, Josh Raynolds – December 2014, vinous.com]