The King of Hermitage Hill
Given annually by the Institute of Masters of Wine, the award recognises outstanding achievement in the field of winemaking and is chosen by a panel of winemaking peers that comprise all Masters of Wine who are winemakers, and the award’s past winners.
On receiving the award, Jean-Louis Chave said, “I am very proud to win this award, especially coming from the Masters of Wine whom I admire so much. It’s impossible to make a wine from a vineyard that doesn’t inspire you, and a good winemaker should give a sense of the place in their wine. It’s more than a technique; it’s a deep understanding of the terroir and it’s history, which I try to express in my wines.”
The Chave family has been producing wines in the northern Rhône Valley for over 500 years. After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut and a degree in oenology at UC Davis in California, Jean-Louis took over the family helm as the 16th generation winemaker.
The family’s reputation and heritage firmly belong to the Hermitage hillside, where they own 15 hectares of vines producing extremely fine, and widely collected wines.
To diversify the family holdings, when Jean-Louis took over from his father Gérard in 1992, he replanted vineyards on the family’s original estate in Saint-Joseph. The site had been abandoned in the early 1900s when phylloxera hit the region. He also started a négociant label, JL Chave Selection, which releases a variety of red and white wines from the Northern Rhône, offering customers an accessible way to experience the Chave family wines.
Chave joins an impressive list of previous winners of the award: Peter Sisseck (2011), Peter Gago (2012), Paul Draper (2013), Anne-Claude Leflaive (2014), Egon Müller (2015), Alvaro Palacios (2016), Eben Sadie (2017), Jean-Claude Berrouet (2018), Angelo Gaja (2019) and now Jean-Louis Chave (2022).
Cellar Stock Reserve Offer: 12 bottles (75cl) 1978 Hermitage J-L Chave @ GB£2.750bt/ib (LCB VT)
This has always been one of Chave’s single greatest vintages, possibly equaled in recent years by 1989, 1991, 1994, and 1995, and possibly surpassed by 1990. Memorizing it’s aromas, it’s flavors, it’s texture, and it’s length is a quick education in what great wine is all about. Still an infant, with a murky, dark ruby/garnet color, this wine offers a smoky, tar, cassis, herb, and grilled meat set of aromatics, huge body, and mouth-searing tannin. This remains a very youthful wine even after nearly two decades of cellaring! Anticipated maturity: 2000-2029!!