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Of the north and its heavenly wines: J.L. Chave

Following the release of the 2020 Côtes-du-Rhône ”Mon Coeur”, today we share with you the rest of the 2020s from Erin and Jean-Louis Chave’s J.L. Chave Sélection range of wines. Both red and white, the focus is solely on the northern Rhône appellations of Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and the hill of Hermitage. In short, if you love your Syrah and the white varietals of Marsanne and Roussanne then this release offer is for you!

Dear Reader,

The vineyards around the Rhône Valley fall into two groups: the north (septentrionale) and the south (méridionale). The north accounts for around a tenth of total production across the Rhône Valley. It is also much greener than the south, receiving far more rain, and vines are planted on steep, terraced slopes that are rich in weathered granite. Red wine produced from these vines is Syrah (alias Shiraz). There is white wine made too, albeit very little. There are three white varietals here: Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.

Saint-Joseph sits on the west bank and to the north of Cornas. It was once a group of six communes (Glun, MauvesTournonSt-Jean-de-Muzols, Lemps and Vion), but since 1969 the appellation has been allowed to expand into a total of 26 communes. These original six still offer guidance to the best Saint-Joseph wines. Chave’s ”Offerus” is produced from vineyards all owned by Jean-Louis with the majority of the final blend made up of Syrah from Mauves, Tournon and St-Jean-de-Muzols. The ”Circa” is a white Saint-Joseph and is 100% Roussanne, sourced from the granitic soils of Mauves.

The entire hill of Hermitage (around 130 hectares of vines) could essentially fit inside the boundaries of Pauillac’s Château Lafite. Some of France’s very finest wines are those of Hermitage – the slopes of which, uniquely in the northern Rhône, are on the river’s left bank and are steep enough to render any use of machines between vine rows impossible. Crozes-Hermitage is the village situated at the back of the hill and extends about 16 kilometers and, like its big brother, produces both red and white wine. Chave’s ”Silene” is sourced from hillside vineyards in Larnage and Gervans with 50% of the Syrah coming from a parcel of young vines owned by Jean-Louis, which is situated on the back, east-facing flank of the Hermitage hill. The white ”Sybèle” is normally a blend of about 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne and sourced from vineyards planted between mid-1990s and early 2010s from Larnage.

For the release of the 2020 vintage, we have put together a six-bottle mixed case of these four aforementioned wines. It’s worth mentioning that we also received some 2019 Saint-Joseph ”Offerus” rouge and there is the option of swapping out the 2020 if you would prefer a slightly older release (the price of the case remains the same).

”Rhone wine lovers are well aware by now that these wines, produced by Erin Cannon-Chave and Jean-Louis Chave, deliver excellent value and consistently high quality, which is no surprise given Jean-Louis’s winemaking talents.”
Josh Raynolds for Vinous

J.L. Chave 2020 mixed six-bottle case
R 2,310 per six-bottle case

Saint-Joseph | ”Offerus” rouge 2020 | x 1 bottle
Crozes-Hermitage | ”Silène” rouge 2020 | x 2 bottles
Saint-Joseph | ”Circa” blanc 2020 | x 1 bottle
Crozes-Hermitage | ”Sybèle” blanc 2020 | x 2 bottles

J.L. Chave Sélection Hermitage

Each climat, or single vineyard plot, on the hill of Hermitage has been designated as such because of the differences in soil type, exposition and altitude.

Chave’s Hermitage ”Farconnet” rouge is produced from grapes which come from three distinctive climats of the Hermitage hill – the majority of the blend comes from Diognières, which is at the base of the hill. The next parcel is Péleat which sits above Diognières and finally, Greffieux which sits at the base of Le Méal on the hill. ”Farconnet” was the name of a nobleman back in the time of Jean-Louis Chave’s great grandfather. He was actually the man from whom the great grandfather bought the Bessards parcel.

The Hermitage ”Blanche” blanc is 100% Marsanne with the fruit coming mainly from the climat of ”Maison Blanche” which is at the top of the Hermitage hill. The soil here is comprised of iron-rich clay and the vines are more than 60 years old. This wine is essentially made up of the best fruit that doesn’t end up in the Domaine Hermitage blanc and is a fraction of the price!

Orders of these two Hermitage wines are strictly limited to three bottles per person.

We mentioned it previously on the offer of the ”Mon Coeur”, but it’s worth highlighting again the matter of the type of cork used on the wines in the J.L. Chave Sélection range. Chave chooses a synthetic cork which helps to keep production costs down and maintain the competitive price on the wines. It does mean, however, that the wine is not suitable to be drunk with use of a Coravin preservation device that uses the needle as the cork does not reseal like a natural one.

Hermitage 2018 ''Farconnet" & ''Blanche''
R 795 per bottle

Limited to 3 bottles per wine per person

Hermitage | ”Farconnet” rouge 2018 | R 795 per bottle
Hermitage | ”Blanche” blanc 2018 | R 795 per bottle