Wine growers in the northern Rhône since 1481, the Chave family (currently helmed by Gérard and son Jean-Louis) represents 16 generations of unbroken lineage committed to the production of some of the finest Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne on the planet. Jean Louis joined his father in 1992 after completing undergraduate studies at University of Connecticut, and a degree in oenology at Davis. It was then that he completely replanted vineyards on the family’s original estate in Saint-Joseph, which had been abandoned in the early 1900’s when phylloxera hit the region.
Their Hermitage offerings are, without question, among the very best this appellation has to offer and considered by some unmatched. Unlike other producers, Chave’s Hermitage are always blends instead of being single vineyard Cru wines. While percentages vary from year to year, the constant backbone of Hermitage Rouge is Syrah from Bessards Vineyard with its steep, granitic slopes. Similarly with the Blanc, the components vary but the base is made from old vines Marsanne from their Péléat vineyard. Some Roussanne is also added to the final blend.
Besides the estate work, Chave also has a négociant line for which they source grapes from various areas in the northern Rhône. Using their wine-making techniques, this approach allows J.L. Chave to offer wines that are more accessible. Their “Mon Coeur” Côtes-du-Rhône is a blend of excellent plots in Vinsobres, Visan, Buisson, and Estargues, while their “Silène” Crozes-Hermitage is 50% estate Syrah and 50% purchased. As with all things Chave, quality is paramount even at the entry level.