The 1989 La Chapelle is phenomenal. The opaque black/ruby color and the huge bouquet of coffee, hickory wood, jammy cassis, minerals, and spices are the stuff of legends. In the mouth the wine is massive, with layer upon layer of unctuous, highly extracted, and superripe fruit. The finish offers an extraordinary explosion of fruit, glycerin, and strong but ripe tannin. My instincts suggest the 1989 will reach maturity several years before the 1990. This is a monumental wine that attests to the glory of this renowned and historic appellation. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2030.
Lacking that extra dimension of freshness and purity of the '90, the 1989 Hermitage la Chapelle is still a fabulous wine that offers sensational aromatic fireworks to go with full-bodied richness and depth. Showing classic la Chapelle smoked meats, currants, wood smoke and chocolate, this beauty hits the palate with no hard edges, a blockbuster texture and a finish that just won't quit. It shows the slightly more masculine, austere edge of the vintage, but the tannin is beautifully sweet and it packs a serious amount of fruit in the mid-palate. I've had a few tired bottles of this over the past few years, so provenance is key. Nevertheless, well-stored bottles will continue to drink beautifully for another couple decades.