Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph 2015
The grapes are vinified at the Domaine using indigenous yeasts in wood tonneaux and stainless steel tanks, then aged for 15-18 months in barriques.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A plush and fleshy vintage with plenty of red plum, orange rind and darker fruits. The palate has neatly cut dark stones (granite), dark plum and bright acidity. This has dark coal smoke, a black stone edge and deep effortless power in the mouth.
There are two Saint Joseph releases in 2015, and Jean-Louis finally decided to bottle his Le Clos cuvée separately. Hats off to him as both wines are up with the crème de la crème of the appellation. Looking at the classic 2015 Saint Joseph, this beauty offers loads of kirsch, currants, and blackberry fruits intermixed with more smoked meats, cedar, and minerality. It’s a rich, powerful, mineral-laced Saint Joseph to drink over the coming 10-15 years.
The 2015 Saint Joseph has some delicate florals but is marked more by ripeness and power. Dark fruit, black olive and even some tarry notes feature prominently in this medium to full-bodied wine that’s supple, spicy and long on the finish.
There are a dozen or so named vineyards in Hermitage, and Chave owns vines in most of them. They vinify each separately, which allows them to blend for greater complexity before bottling.
Spanning the longest stretch of river in the northern Rhône—from Condrieu in the north, to Cornas in the south—the heart of St.-Joseph lies directly across the Rhône River from Hermitage. While its soils are basically the same as Hermitage: granite, supplemented by sand and gravel, its east facing slope receives less sunlight than Hermitage, which causes less overall berry ripening on its Syrah vines. However, some of the best of them can rival any fine expression of Hermitage, Cote-Rotie or Cornas with concentrated black fruits, dark spices, crushed rock and violets. A general advantage of the region is that its Syrahs typically don’t need as much time in the bottle compared to a Cote-Rotie or Hermitage and are much easier on the bank account!
A textbook St.-Joseph red is firm with a core of minerality that is enhanced by savory and peppery qualities. Aromas and flavors of smoke, olives, herbs, and violets are common; its wines are dense in red and black fruit.
St.-Joseph is also a source of fine northern Rhône white wine. Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne grow well here and can be blended or made into single varietal wines. St.-Joseph whites are full and silky with citrus, pear and pineapple flavors and a rich bouquet reminiscent of honeysuckle, toasted nuts, spice and caramel.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.