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Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge, Rhone Red, France. (Syrah)
While the vintage was tricky and lots of Northern Rhone reds suffer from a lack of ripeness and seem light, the Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage is a masterpiece and has a Grand Cru Burgundy like elegance and finesse. So, it may not be the blockbuster and collector success as the 2005 and 2007 are, but it is still magic and beautiful with the added benefit of being drinkable young with delightful freshness. This wine will fill out some, no question and should last ages, but it should be a drink earlier Hermitage, I might suggest within a few years, as it proved lovely after only a hour in the decanter. The nose is bright with violets, bacon, pepper and blueberry before a palate of boysenberry, cherry, creme de cassis and a subtle touch of gamey meatiness with white pepper and mineral notes. There is fine tannins, acidity and silky texture much like a graceful Burgundy, but with pure Syrah and Hermitage terroir charm. Chave’s 2008 vintage wines all show remarkable class and beauty, from their Crozes-Hermitage “Silene” to the very impressive Saint-Joseph, both being top values as well, but the classic Hermitage is something very special indeed.
($225 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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