1983 & 1967 Domaine J.L. Chave L’Hermitage


Last year was such a treasure trove of amazing bottles that I completely forgot a dinner in February that finished with a pair of outstanding wines from Jean-Louis Chave. The 1983 L’Hermitage is a vintage I have encountered a couple of times before, though not for some years. Gérard Chave would have made this. Now four decades old, the 1983 has a wonderful bouquet that has retained all its vigor, quite Burgundy-like with wilted rose petals that infuse the shimmering dark cherry and raspberry fruit. Hints of rooibos, Earl Grey and clove emerge with time. The palate shows an impressive body and gentle grip; the tannins have melted in recent years. It’s saline with just a distant tang of green olive. There is a touch of meatiness towards the finish that is extremely well-defined and surfeited with charm and character. Maybe it’s a little rustic compared to recent vintages, yet that is just part of its allure. 93/Drink 2024-2040.

The 1967 L’Hermitage predates Gérard Chave taking over from his father, Jean-Louis, by three years, so I would guess father and son oversaw this. Nowadays, it is an elusive vintage, and this was my first encounter. But what a wine. The bouquet bursts from the glass with red berry fruit, Kalamata olives and a light swimming pool/chlorine scent. It appears to have lost none of the vigor it was presumably born with. The palate does not disappoint, with exceptional balance and a perfect line of acidity. Much more refined than expected, even compared to the 1983 alongside it, the 1967 is bestowed with fantastic precision and tension on the finish. It’s an excellent Northern Rhône that continues to give so much drinking pleasure. 96/Drink 2024-2044.

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