Best of the Best 2012: International White Wines: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave 2008 Hermitage Blanc

In an era when so many legendary wine labels belong to multinational corporations, Domaine Jean-Louis Chave stands apart, not only for the decadent beauty of its incomparable wines, but also for the fact that this family concern in the Northern Rhône has been passed down from one generation to the next since 1481. The current steward of the family firm, who is also named Jean-Louis Chave, studied enology at the University of California, Davis. Though the red Hermitage from Chave is prized by collectors for its mouthwatering richness, the white wines—intoxicating blends of Marsanne and Roussanne—are equally profound. The Domaine Jean-Louis Chave 2008 Hermitage Blanc ($225), though scant in quantity, displays vast complexity, revealing essences of white plum, green pear, and honeysuckle punctuated on the finish by a burst of white pepper.

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