Chave Hermitage –there is so much one can say about Chave’s Hermitage, not only because it is one of the world’s true wine treasures, but also because they have been around since the 1400’s. Having tried 2 different vintages, 1987 & 1997, in the past few days, I am always so surpised & amazed that the Chave Hermitage is not continuously listed in the various media’s Top 100 standouts of the year! I wonder how is that possible? Furthermore, I am also quite astounded that there are other northern Rhone Syrah based reds on the scene today, which get higher scores at 2 to 3 times the price! Utterly amazing! The 1987 was not nearly as good of a bottle as the previous times we have tasted it in the past year. Still, it was quite impressive in its majestic-ness & pedigree. This wine certainly has breed that’s for sure. I also liked the elegance, refinement & especially the transparency of this wine, more so now than before. It is much more about the stones than ripe, dense, sundrenched body, which usually takes much longer to resolve itself. The 1997, on the other hand, was gorgeous, just full of grandeur & seeming opulence. It is a mouthful! Boy, one can make alot of friends with this kind of stuffing & ample “flesh on the bones”. On this same night, we also had the 1996 Noel Verset Cornas, which provided quite alot of insight & from a completely different perspective. In comparison, the Cornas was more masculine & devoutly soulful with great intensity & lots of character. The 1997 Chave, on the other hand, was much more majestic, aristocratic, & effortlessly so. Plus, the Chave seemed soooo much younger in the nose & especially on the palate. How many Syrah based red wines can stand along side a Verset Cornas & not be dwarfed? Wow!!!
1996 Noel Verset Cornas–what an unreal surprise! An old friend. Imagine going to your parents home & checking through their old photo albums & seeing a picture of your best friend in grade school. How are you, my dear friend! It has been far too long since I last saw you…..kind of thing. You catch up quick. Verset’s Cornas is one of a kind wine. No others like it. He worked & toiled hard in his steep, rocky hillside vineyard & his wines were truly made through sweat & gutteral passion. Why else would he have worked so hard in search of his dream wine? Feral, raw, aged meat, andouille sauage, peppercorns, smoke, black pepper, dried red fruit, wild herbs–wildly rustic, Old School & soooooo soulful. I am sad to say, the number of bottles are fast diminishing & soon the Verset Cornas will only be a memory. So sad, as this is certainly one of the true iconic wines & winemakers of all time. Thank you my friend. It was really great to spend time once again. I hope our paths will cross again soon.
Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol–I have seemingly spent a lifetime completely infatuated with the Bandol wines from Domaine Tempier. These are more than wines showcasing a “sense of place”. They really are about a bon vivant attitude, a culture, a family & its heritage. When, importer Kermit Lynch started also bringing in the Terrebrune wines, I really didn’t pay so much attention to them. Even when I first visited them & tasted in their cellar, my mind was really thinking more about “when will we be headed to Tempier down the hill”? Imagine my surprise when I started enjoying the Terrebrune wines even more than those from Tempier! They were much more elegant, refined, fresh & minerally…..especially with some bottle age! I am now a true believer & these 2 wines clearly reminded me of that thought & appreciation. The 1997 was so exotically perfumed–a collision of the gamey, feral, animal-ly nuances of the Mourvedre grape variety with nuances of the surrounding wild herbs, flowers & sun baked countryside & the mersmerzing minerality of the limestone under soils. I was sooooo taken by this wine on this night! I really wish I had purchased more. The 1998 was also quite captivating, though more masculine, robust & much deeper in its earth driven character. I had a hard time comprehending all that has come forward in this wine with the bottle age. I was really blindsided, as I never even knew any of this was there when I tasted the wine in its youth! Plus, the piece de resistance is the Terrebrune Bandols are WAY better priced than those of Tempier. If I was smart, I would be keeping this fact to myself, so the prices stay low. Oh well, one of the true joys of wines is finding a new gem & sharing it with others, right?