Jean-Louis Chave: Crozes Feat!

Posted by CrushWine

A Crush Exclusive!

As many of you know, the Hermitage of Jean-Louis Chave is a very personal wine to me. I've written this before, but it bears repeating: If I were restricted to only one producer in the Rhone, it would be Chave. There is just no one who can coax the intensity, complexity and sheer elegance from Syrah like he can. His efforts are justly rewarded - the 2003 Chave Hermitage is currently selling at well over $600.

With all this in mind, I have to say I am personally thrilled that Crush will be the exclusive North East retailer for Chave's newest venture - the inaugural 2005 Crozes-Hermitage, which we'll be offering at the lowest price in the nation.

This 100% Syrah from the Northern Rhone is pure and concentrated with sharp red fruits, savory spices, grilled meats and subtle hints of olives. Though intense, this wine definitely has that undeniable Chave elegance and tension, making it a riveting food wine. This is a masterful and finessed expression of Crozes-Hermitage, a bottle drinking well right now - perfect for the summer BBQ - though as a testament to how well made this wine is, I am convinced that this bottle will improve with short-term to intermediate-term cellaring.

This wine is the newest addition to Chave's hugely successful micro-negociant project. The first bottle, a St. Joseph that he introduced in 1995, played a big part in bringing this appellation to the attention of the larger wine world. In 1998 he began making a Cotes du Rhone, quickly dividing the category into Chave's Cotes du Rhones and all the others. I believe Crozes-Hermitage is the next bastion of incredible value and it's only a matter of time before this too will follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph and Cotes du Rhone with massive price increases.

As with the other two bottlings, Chave's Crozes involves only carefully chosen growers who have exceptional vineyards and who work these parcels rigorously. Absolutely all the sites are organically farmed. The key however is that in an appellation of over 3,000 acres (Hermitage, by contrast, is a scant 330) Jean-Louis insists on only using fruit from hillside vineyards, providing the vines with superior exposures and drainage.

Chave oversees the production and elevage of the wine and of course directs the final blending. The result is a wine that could only be crafted by Chave - again, there is a big difference between most Crozes-Hermitage and Chave's.

This is one of the more extraordinary wines we've had in a long time. As it's the first vintage of this wine, it's also probably one of the most inexpensive "collectible" bottles out there! Extremely versatile, this is a serious bottle that you could proudly bring to the table of any wine collector, though it's priced to "pop" for casual weekday sipping.