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1998 Chave Hermitage Cathelin Cuvee

1998 Chave Hermitage Cathelin Cuvee

98+ VM


Wine Details for 1998 Chave Hermitage Cathelin Cuvee

Type of Wine Hermitage : Hermitage provides a bouquet of scents and flavors with a texture that cannot be fully deciphered. Expect to be blown away by an orchestral composition of primal blackberries and black raspberries, earthy minerals, playful spice and a thick bassline of smoke. Their immense aging potential makes them ideal candidates for hoarding in your cellar!
Varietal Shiraz/Syrah : Something magical occurred when two ancient French grapes procreated and the varietal of Syrah entered the world of winegrowing. The exact time period of its inception is still undetermined; however, the origin of Syrah’s parentage confirms it was birthed in the Rhone Valley. DNA testing performed by UC Davis has indicated that Syrah is the progeny of the varietals Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, both of Rhone origin. Syrah dominates its native homeland of Northern Rhone and has become one of the most popular grape varietals in the world.

Syrah, Shiraz and Petite Sirah have often been confused and misunderstood, some consumers believing them to all be the same grape, while others thinking the opposite. Petite Sirah is actually the offspring of Syrah and Peloursin and though related, is an entirely different grape variety. Its official name is Durif, for the name of the French nurseryman who first propagated the varietal in the 1880s; it is called Petite Sirah in California (due to the resemblance of Syrah, but smaller berries). Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. Producers in Australia have been labelling Syrah as “Shiraz” since James Busby first introduced the varietal to the continent. The Scottish viticulturist brought Syrah from France to Australia in the middle of the 18th century and labelled the cuttings as “Sycras” and “Ciras,” which may have led to the naming. Most California vintners label their bottlings as Syrah and of course in French style and tradition, the name of the village or area the grape is cultivated dictates the label name.

The Syrah grape is at home in Northern Rhone where the climate is cool and the terroir is filled with gravel, schist, limestone, iron, granite and sandy soils. It thrives on rocky, hilly terrain with a southern exposure, due to its need for sunlight. Syrah is a very vigorous grape with a spreading growth habit. The berries are small to medium oval shaped blue-black and tend to shrivel when ripe.

Today, Syrah is one of the most popular and widely planted grape varietals in the world, covering almost 190,000 hectares across the earth’s surface. It is the only red grape variety permitted by AOC regulations in the appellations of Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, where it has breathed life into some of the most tremendous wines on the planet. Languedoc-Roussilon has the most surface area planted in France with 43,200 hectares dedicated to Syrah. The varietal is used for blending in Southern Rhone, Provence and even Bordeaux. Syrah has spread worldwide from Australia to California and South Africa to Spain creating the ‘New World’ hype of the varietal. Since the 1990’s, Syrah winegrowing and production has increased exponentially; for example, in 1958 there were a mere 2,000 hectares planted in France. By 2005 that number increased to over 68,000 hectares and today it is well over 70,000. The same holds true for California, Australia and other ‘New World’ producers that have jumped “all in.” World-wide there are approximately 190,000 hectares of Syrah currently being cultivated.

The allure of Syrah has taken the world by storm, but is important to note where the hype began. Long before Syrah was being stamped with ‘New World’ or of ‘cult status,’ the tremendous quality of Hermitage was being written about in Thomas Jefferson’s diary. Today, the grape variety can be grown, fashioned, named and enjoyed in a myriad of ways, but the quality of Syrah grape remains the same – incredible.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Region Rhone : While the Northern Rhone produces only about 5% of all wine coming out of the Rhone Valley, the quality of these bottles is not to be underestimated. The terroir in this region is heavenly for growing Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne - the only permitted grapes in the AOC. Picture this - the Rhone flows through the valley like an azure thread piercing the landscape, a reflection of the dreamy skies hovering above the vineyards, ready to produce rainfall at a moment's notice. The rocky soil of the steep, almost surreal hillsides provides a bountiful feast for the grapevine roots. The flavors and texture of Northern Rhone wines tell you everything you need to know as soon as your lips touch the elixir, like a whisper in the vigorous valley winds

As per the Southern Rhone wine, it is like taking a plunge into a whirlpool of juicy flavor. Every sip explodes forward like a crashing tsunami, bathing your tastebuds in delicious aromas of prune, chocolate, grass, and black fruit. The wines are so compelling that it can be hard to drink them casually at a social event without getting lost in their intricate textures and emotional depths. Let's set sail together, and drink deep from these luxurious bottles with our friends and loved ones.
Subregion Northern Rhone
Appellation Hermitage


Producer Domaine Jean-Louis Chave : There are old families in the Rhone Valley and then there are really old families. The Chave family is one of the oldest names in the history of winemaking. Today the label reads Domaine JL Chave but the inception of their family trade can be traced back to 1481. In fact, the neck label commemorates their heritage with the inscription, “Vignerons de Pere en Fils depuis 1481” which translates to “vine growers from father to son since 1481.”

The Chave family began cultivating vineyards in northern Rhone in the appellation of what we know today as Saint Joseph. After the devastating impact of the phylloxera crisis that crippled most of Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century, the family moved to Hermitage. Sixteen generations of unbreakable lineage later, the family remains in control of the land and business to this day. The infamous Hermitage producer is now in the loyal hands of Jean Louis Chave; handed down by his father, Gerard and is continuing the family legacy of producing, perhaps the finest Hermitage in the world.

Chave owns 14 hectares in Hermitage, 10 of which are planted to Syrah and are used to produce their red wines. The remaining 4 hectares are planted to 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne, which are more than 60 years of age and used to produce their Hermitage Blanc. Along with Jaboulet and Chapoutier, the Chave family owns the largest percentage of planted hectares in the entire appellation of Hermitage. The vines are dispersed over the Hill of Hermitage in coveted lieu-dits such as Bessards, L’Hermite, Les Rocoules, Peleat and Meal. Each vineyard has its own unique terroir but is mostly composed of rocky soils ranging from granite, limestone, clay and limestone. The infamous lieux-dit of Bessards has a terroir of steep granite hillside soils with some of the vines being 50 years old. The parcels located in Les Rocoules and Peleat have vines even older at 85 years of age.

Though the domaine is in possession of some of the greatest terroir in northern Rhone in coveted parcels, the family has never released a “single vineyard.” The beauty and complexity of each vintage is found in the mastery of blending. A rigorous selection process from each parcel is conducted and is added to the final blend. Chave produces Hermitage, Hermitage Cuvee Cathelin, and Hermitage Blanc from their 14-hectare estate and each is in competition for greatest in the appellation each vintage. Chave also has a negociant line named JL Chave Selection which sources grapes from Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, and Cotes-Du-Rhone.

As award-winning wine writer and columnist, Andrew Jefford wrote, “The Chave line…could make a fair claim to be France’s winemaking royal family: in no other of France’s greatest terroirs is the largest individual landholder so deeply rooted in time and place, so supremely competent, and so modest a custodian of insights and craftsmanship of the past.”

Critic Reviews

Reticent, minerally nose hints at great sweetness and ripeness; notes of blackberry and tar emerge with aeration. Round, rich and layered in the mouth; still quite closed but the wine extraordinary depth of flavor is already apparent. Slight suggestion of peppery austerity. Great intensity with no excess weight. Finishes with explosive length and noble tannins. This is essentially made up of Bessards for its tannic support, Meal for its sheer amplitude, and Peleat to round out the blend. This is likely to be the best Cathelin since the 1990, and is another legend in the making. It will also drive trophy collectors nuts, as there only about 2,500 bottles of this elixir, and a goodly number of them will never leave the Chaves’ cave

Vinous Media | 98+ VM
The opaque black/purple-colored 1998 Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin (200 cases) offers a huge nose of smoked licorice, blackberry, cassis, new saddle leather, and vanillin. Tasting like liqueur of Syrah, it is extremely full-bodied and awesomely concentrated, with formidable tannin as well as mind-blowing levels of extract and density. The tannin is sweet, and the wine seamless for a young Chave Hermitage.

Robert Parker | 98 RP
Beautiful red. Balanced, with a deft dose of mocha, spicy oak, red and black fruit and mineral notes. Its supple tannins fold nicely into the long finish, which tastes of grilled game and red berry jam. Drink now through 2015. 200 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 95 WS

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