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Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Farconnet Hermitage (2017)

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Domaine Jean-Louis Chave is a family owned winery. It has been passed from father to son since 1481. The Domaine is currently under the direction of Jean-Louis Chave, though his father, Gérard, is still around the domaine for occasional advice.

When phylloxera hit in the 19th century, the family was obliged to move down to the Rhône valley to diversify into fruit farming, basing themselves in the village of Mauves where the cellars are today. It was at this time that a particularly smart ancestor decided to cross the Rhône river and lay claim to parcels of land on the hill of Hermitage.

Deep ruby. Pungent red and blue fruit and floral scents are complemented by suggestions of succulent herbs and white pepper. Lively, penetrating and appealingly sweet, showing good depth as well as detail to the black raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors. Finishes long and smoky, with supple tannins coming in late.

“Farconnet” is a world-class Hermitage through and through. With a long, undisturbed fermentation in tonneaux and stainless steel, plus 24 months of aging in mostly used French barriques, this is a powerful, calculated Syrah beast. Look no further if you seek a fistful of blackberries, black raspberry liqueur, licorice, currants, atomized granite, dried Asian spices, olive tapenade, and the indelible pepper-meets-cured meat savor that makes Hermitage one of the most prominent hillside sites on Earth. The palate is broad, dense, muscular, and expansive, with a dark-fruited and mineral/herbal core that stretches the finish for minutes on end. It’s a burly, luxurious tour de force that will burn an everlasting image of Northern Rhône Syrah into your brain. This will most certainly improve for another 10+ years if cellared properly, but no one should hesitate to pull the cork today. Simply decant for at least two hours before sharing in large Bordeaux stems at 60F degrees. And remember, the Chave family has been producing wine since the 1500s, so I encourage you to get medieval in the kitchen. Call your favorite local butcher and command him or her to reserve a whole lamb shoulder in honor of today’s regal wine!