Aleofane - Natacha Chave Crozes-Hermitage 2010
Dense and concentrated. Even with this concentration of fruit, she was able to maintain a beautiful balance in the wine. The Crozes is deep, dark, purple in the glass, with a rich black cherry and blackberry nose. In the mouth the intense black fruit flavors mingle with hints of black pepper, and soft ripe tannins. While this is a wine that could be cellared for several years, the rich fruit flavors also make it enjoyable now.
Natacha is meticulous with her vines. She works very hard to keep her vines healthy, and to limit yields. None of the work she does in the vines can be mechanized due to the steep configuration of this vineyard. Natacha therefore, has to do all of this work by hand. Natacha is very interested in using only natural products in the vines that help the vine build up its own natural defenses. Since 2006 she has used a treatment made of seeds from a plant, fenugreek (used in Indian and Thai cooking), that causes a resistance in the vine to an attack of odium. She also uses an experimental treatment against mildew made from yucca, chitin, and tea tree oil.
Natacha has a deep love for the grape Syrah, especially from the Northern Rhone, where she believes the perfect expression of pure Syrah is found. In 2004 Natacha bought her first parcel of Saint-Joseph. She found a nice 1.3 hectare (3.2 acres) hillside plot in the heart of Saint-Joseph, Tournon sur Rhone. In 2007 she was able to buy a small, old vines, plot in Crozes-Hermitage, to which she has added some new plantings as well.
One of the smallest and most important Syrah regions of northern Rhone, Hermitage is practically one single south-facing slope of crushed granite, thinly covered with varied, yet well-charted soil types. Many climats (well identified parcels) exist within Hermitage and while some smaller producers make single climat Syrahs, some larger ones blend to make one balanced expression of the appellation.
Though the AC regulations allow the addition of up to 15% white grapes to a red Hermitage, in practice it is usually made from Syrah alone. Winemaking is pretty traditional—or you might say historic—with hot fermentations and aging in older barrels of various sizes. The best wines, characterized by deep, dense and sexy flavors of black fruit, cocoa, licorice and tobacco, have massive textures and a solid 10-20 years aging potential.
The region of Hermitage is totally enclosed; the only place it could go really is to literally fall down its own hill into the city of Tain or the Rhone River. Soil erosion is a problem and terraces exist alongside the hill in order to keep the earth in place. Crozes-Hermitage encloses the region entirely to its north and south.
While Hermitage seems synonymous with some of the best Syrah on the planet, actually about one third of the wine produced here comes from white grapes. The full, lush and robust Marsanne or the less common, but almost more charming, Roussanne create wonderful whites in which the best have great potential for aging, like the reds.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”