Thursday, 14 November 2013

Matthew Hemming's Vertical Tasting from Chave Hermitage: Bordeaux Quay 14/11/2013

Here, Matthew takes us through his recent tasting experience in the company of Chave Hermitage's exquisite range dating from 1982. 

Hermitage Blanc

1996 - Mid-burnished gold colour.  Full, waxy, lanolin aromas.  The palate is surprisingly fresh with impressive extract and a pleasing saline crunch.  It’s complex, deep and vigourous.  16.5

1994 - More youthful in colour than the ’96 but the nose is much more oxidative.  Broad on the palate with a spice and sweetness almost suggestive of botrytis.  There’s a marked waxiness and a lack of acidity, making it a bit of a dull weight on the palate.  14.5


Hermitage Rouge

2001 - Dark, youthful colour.  Aromas of red fruit are scented, fragrant and elegant.  This is quite Burgundian, with incense notes alongside spice and meat elements.  Tightly wound on the palate and very fine grained.  There’s a brightness and briskness to this making it quite linear at the moment but with excellent line.  17

1999 - Also very youthful but with a sweeter, riper fruit element to the nose.  Red fruit and
incense again.  The palate is perfumed and crisp with acidity but at the same time it’s fleshier and more layered than the ’01.  A relaxed Hermitage that’s at ease with itself.  The finish is superb – long, crystalline and mineral.  18.5+

1996 - Secondary aromas of leather matched by some floral characters and musk.  Black pepper on the palate with plenty of crunch to the texture.  Vibrant and red-fruited with just slightly chalky tannin.  Scented finish.  18

1995 - This has brett on the nose – both positive (leather) and negative (horse) – and the overall effect is fairly rustic.  The palate has a core of intense fruit but the tannins are slightly coarse around the edges. 17

1994 - Still youthful looking.  Has quite a cool, leafy aroma – very fine scent.  The palate has a delicate frame and crisp acids.  This doesn’t have the layers or the flesh of riper vintages.  It finishes a little short with a crisp, citric lift.  16.5

1991 - Has a great fragrance of bonfire, spices, meat and incense.  Caresses and coats the palate with layers of scent.  The tannins are silky and this just soars across the palate.  Absolutely sensational, lively, complex and vital wine.  19.5

1990 - How to follow the stunning 1991?  Well, with the 1990 of course.  Probably better if your 1990 isn't corked though.  Gutting as you can see the structure, sweetness and intensity through the taint.  Strangely, it was definitely musty and TCA-tainted at first but this receded, although the wine remained scalped and dead.    N/A

1989 - Muted at first and there’s a hint of detergent in the glass.  Switched to a different glass, iodine and almost saline, breezy, notes kick in.  This is rustic on the palate but in a characterful way that’s distinctly better than in the ‘95.  There’s a wild element to the fruit that’s quite brambly and attractive.  Floral and rose petal tones emerge on the mid-palate.  The finish has slightly dry tannin.  17.5

1988 - Fairly advanced on the nose with marked brett influence.  There’s good, dark fruit on the palate but texturally this is quite tough.  Another that verges towards the rustic and there’s a fair whack of VA too.  Tannins on the finish are a bit dry and woody.  This is both mature and fairly old fashioned.  16

1985 - Aromas are fine, ripe, meaty and mature.  It’s sweet and fleshy but shot through with a seam of minerality.  At the same time this is plump and delicate.  The tannins are like satin.  At its peak but still fresh and delicious.  18.5

1983 - Fabulously clean leather notes on the nose.  This has a gorgeous perfume.  The palate is cool, sleek and beautiful.  Silky, focused and mineral with a lingering tobacco-scented finish.  Riveting wine.  19

1982 - There’s a slightly dirty, bretty touch to the nose giving a hint of horse.  On the palate this is mature and really quite fine although as the edges start to fray I can see this becoming a bit rustic.  It’s good but lacks the precision and definition of the ’83.  17


All in all a fantastic occasion and a lot of fun to work through such a range of vintages. The highlight definitely has to be the 1991 with it's deliciously smokey and savoury notes that match the silky tannins in the wine so well

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