Jean-Louis Chave makes some of the greatest wines in the Rhône. The Hermitage and Saint-Joseph he produces from his family estate are among the best of their respective appellations. Naturally this level of quality doesn’t come cheap, so they are a rare treat even to committed Rhône lovers like me.
Although he doesn’t produce second wines, Jean-Louis does have a négociant label, J.L. Chave Sélection, a range of wines produced from younger estate vines and sometimes bought-in fruit as well. They are made just as diligently as the wines from his estate, but are considerably cheaper.
There are six wines in the collection:
Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge ‘Mon Coeur’
Crozes-Hermitage Rouge ‘Silène’
Saint-Joseph Blanc ‘Circa’
Saint-Joseph Rouge ‘Offerus’
Hermitage Rouge ‘Farconnet’
Hermitage Blanc ‘Blanche’
The 2015 vintage was exceptionally good in the Northern Rhône, and the 2015 vintage of the Cotes-du-Rhône, the Crozes-Hermitage and the Saint-Joseph Blanc are now available in the UK. All are excellent and well worth getting your hands on. I’ll write up the remaining three when they’re released.
J.L. Chave Sélection Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge ‘Mon Coeur’ 2015 (14.5% ABV)
£80.00 per 12 bottles in bond (equivalent of £10.60 per bottle including taxes), A&B Vintners
45% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre mostly from the Southern Rhône villages of Vinsobres, Rasteau and Cairanne. Blackberry, loganberry and the faintest whiff of bonfire, all very enticing. It’s the palate that really makes an impression though, this is a remarkably well tailored and sophisticated Côtes-du-Rhône – one of the finest I’ve tasted labelled under this modest appellation. Lush, but well balanced, with a richly textured mouthfeel and juicy berry acidity. Very good value at under £11 a bottle – essential mid-week drinking.
90 points, 2017-2019
J.L. Chave Sélection Crozes-Hermitage Rouge ‘Silène’ 2015 (14% ABV)
£130.00 per 12 bottles in bond (equivalent of £15.60 per bottle including taxes), A&B Vintners
Sleek, cool and fragrant, this is a very pure expression of Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage. Plenty of ripe berry fruit and a straight, tailored profile make for a considered and precise wine. Well balanced and well judged. Good value at less than £16 a bottle.
91 points, 2017-2020
J.L. Chave Sélection Saint-Joseph Blanc ‘Circa’ 2015 (14% ABV)
£25.25 per bottle including taxes, Yapp
Pure Roussanne. A discrete nose of honeycomb and vanilla over yellow pear and quince, with integrated oak. Unashamedly full-bodied, rich in glycerol and flavour; acidity is on the low side, but it retains a sense of freshness. It takes its time to saunter over the senses. Dry yet generous on the finish, which is lengthened by an ember of toasty oak. Fairly priced at £25 for a wine of this class.
92 points, 2017-2019
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2017 Food and Wine Writer of the Year
Shortlisted for the Born Digital Wine Awards 2016 Best Editorial/Opinon Wine Writing
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Winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2015 Blogger of the Year
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2015 Online Communicator
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Winner of The Drinks Business Awards 2013 Communicator of the Year
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Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2012 Blogger of the Year
Matt Walls first got into wine working in an off-licence in Brighton. He has since worked for Bollinger Champagne and helped manage and buy wines for The Sampler, one of London's best wine shops. He now spends half his time writing about wine and the other half collaborating on various wine-related projects. His first book, Drink Me!, was recently published by Quadrille and has sold over 10,000 copies.
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- Kunin Syrah 2015, Santa Barbara, USA
Santa Barbara has a relatively cool climate for California, and Seth Kunin was one of the first to see the region’s potential for Syrah. This is deep aubergine in colour, with a touch of vanilla pod oak on the nose, alongside bacon, black olive and some balsamic touches – more Syrah in style than Shiraz. Medium-bodied, eminently smooth and silky on the tongue. Nicely drinkable, ends fresh, lifted and slightly resinous. Good Californian wine is rarely a steal, but this is fair value at £22.99 at Roberson (click through).
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