Minor Hermitage producers have a hard time. Without plots of land from climats all over the great hill it is difficult to get the necessary balance of structure and fruit to produce a great wine that will age well. I think Domaine Colombier is a definite exception to this rule; Yann Chave suffers from it greatly. Indeed, I think his wines should be consumed within five years of the vintage if you are not going to be throwing good money away.
So last night we procured a perfect portion of top rump of beef from a local farm and I had a bottle of Hermitage 2009 from Yann Chave. Time to drink, I thought, so we popped it. Naturally when drinking the manliest wine of France with something as butch as rare roast beef (pictures of which will appear after the tasting note) we decided to revel in our masculinity and consume them naked!
A very fruity nose of plums, blackberries and ripe elderberries. The fruit is very intense, powerfully blasting its way up your nose and into your brain making you think manly thoughts.
It smells really rather earthy too. A rich, well-fertilised soil ready to plant some seed potatoes in it. This is manly earthiness.
This Hermitage 2009 has hints of pepper and spice, but these are rather subdued. The nose is mainly manly in terms of fruit and fertilised floor. It’s quite nice; not too alcoholic, no obvious new oak, the heroism entirely coming from lovely components.
Yet it is only a good, but not great, nose. It lacks a hefty hint of complexity even if it does the ‘scale’-thing quite well.
On the palate there is a truck load of ripe fruit that is emptied onto your palate as soon as you take a sip, that’s quite nice.
What is less nice in this Hermitage 2009 is that there is not much left in terms of structure and that which is there has become bitter and a heavily hints at harshness rather than being taut and supportive. It is not a confidently structured wine as one would hope for, and I put this down to it being at the end of its drinking life.
The acidity is good, though, and there is enough earthiness embracing your palate to begin to question if there might be a hint of complexity here.
There isn’t all that much complexity, if you analyse it carefully. It’s all about fruit, earth and fadingly bitter tannins, which stand out as separate components rather than being finely integrated. A dying Hermitage 2009, which is a real shame if you consider the greatness of the best wines from this collection of climats, and I’m really thinking of Colombier, and possibly Guigal here.
Not so long ago this Hermitage 2009 would have been a more enjoyable drink, but Yann Chave does not have the vineyard resources to make Hermitage of great ageing capacity. It is a bit of a pity because when you catch then sub-5 years old they are really rather enjoyable entities of manly enthusiasm. I have one other bottle of Yann Chave Hermitage, a 2010, and I will be drinking that as rapidly as I can find an excuse to. Maybe I can invite a guest for red wine, or something… But the message is: Don’t bother ageing your Yann Chave Hermitage, it is a wine for enjoying in ‘blood and guts’-style when very young.
Now, you may be wondering about the roast beef. It came from the chalk meadow farm of Beechcroft Direct and was cooked with superior skill and a lot of love by The Editor. Here it is:
We could not afford any potatoes and duck or goose fat, but we did have the makings of an excellent accompaniment to beef: macaroni and cheese!