I was blown away by the 2018 Hermitage from barrel, and it unquestionably doesn't disappoint from bottle. Reminding me slightly of the 2009, it possesses off-the-charts richness and depth, but like all great wines, stays pure, balanced, and light on its feel. Extraordinary notes of cassis, blue fruits, graphite, violets, and flowers define the bouquet, and this full-bodied, layered, multi-dimensional beauty has ripe tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. This is pure Hermitage magic. Given its extravagant richness and texture, it should be relatively accessible in just a handful of years yet evolve for three decades or more.
Chave's 2018 Hermitage is another in a long list of legends to emerge from this meticulously run estate. Showing remarkably complex aromas of pressed violets, ground cloves and cracked peppercorns against a backdrop of cassis, blueberries and licorice, it's a super effort. Full-bodied, concentrated, rich and velvety in feel, it's seamless and long—just the complete package in a wine that's surprisingly approachable, yet should prove capable of aging effortlessly for two decades or more.
Lastly, the 2018 Hermitage is still resting in its individual components, and it’s such an education tasting through the samples from Bessards, Péléat, Méal, and Beaumes. In some years, each terroir is easy to see (the spice and complexity from Péléat, the opulence from the Méal, etc.), yet in 2018, the Méal was more structured and inward and the l’Ermite was shockingly opulent and powerful. The crème de la crème was the sample from Les Bessards, and wine doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion. Regardless, all the samples possess incredible quality and show classic, powerful aromatics reminiscent of a classic, almost cooler year paired with massive richness, depth, and structure on the palate. Possibly coming closest in my mind to a hypothetical mix of the 2009 and 2010, this is a legendary Chave Hermitage in the making.
As virtually all of the various components of Chave's 2018 Hermitage were still separate, I've given a rating that reflects the variability I saw when tasting through the barrels and made a guess regarding Jean-Louis's blending sensibilities and available volumes. For example, the Péléat (92 - 94), a pretty, red-fruited element could add freshness but is likely to be a small portion of the blend (if it's even included). More impressive were the lush, mouthfilling Les Beaumes (95 -97) and stony, elegant Le Méal (94 - 96). Lots from L'Ermite (98 - 100) and Les Bessards (98 - 100) will likely make up the bulk of the blend, oozing with liquid stone, intense blueberry and cassis fruit, and possessing firm yet ripe structures.