Robert Parker 97
When I arrived at 6:00 p.m., September 11, 2001, at Domaine Chave, I found Chave in tears and his family distraught. I had heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center, but not the subsequent collapse of both towers. Gerard Chave knows all about suicidal bombers, having served in the French military during the Algerian revolution. It took a long time to gather sufficient focus to do my tastings. However, the brilliant wines that unfolded in the cellars were, at least for several hours, a much needed antidote for pushing to the back of my mind the horror of 9-11-01. Importers: Langdon Shiverick, Cleveland OH; tel. (216) 861-6800 and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA; tel. (510) 524-1524
Anticipated maturity: 2007-2037
Dark ruby-red. Brooding but vibrant aromas of cassis, blackberry, licorice and spice. Extremely dense and concentrated, with urgent blackcurrant and pepper flavors complicated by a spicy oak component. Despite its supple texture, this has shut down since the last time I sampled it and is likely to call for extended patience.
Jeb Dunnuck 98
The 1995 Hermitage Cuvee Cathelin is another magical wine from this family estate that’s drinking brilliantly today. Its vivid ruby, semi-opaque color (classic mature Hermitage) is followed by an incredibly complex bouquet of red and black currants, Asian spices, scorched earth, beef blood, and obvious smoky minerality that’s the essence of the les Bessards lieu-dit. Deep, concentrated, and powerful on the palate, yet at the same time incredibly seamless and elegant, with an almost Burgundian ethereal texture, this smoky, meaty, mineral-driven Hermitage is fully mature today yet I will have no problem evolving for another two decades or more. It’s pure class.