Jean-Louis Chave Selection Cotes-du-Rhone Mon Coeur 2018
The Chave family is based in a small village on the northern right bank of the Rhone. There have been Chaves growing vines on the famous Hermitage hill since 1481. Gerard Chave took over from his father in 1970 and rapidly achieved megastar status due to the extraordinary quality of his wines and has since passed on the winemaking responsibilities to his son Jean-Louis. Their unmatched meticulousness continues through five centuries to render venerable expressions of the purest of Rhône terroir.
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Juicy red berries, spring flowers, and hints of peppered game all emerge from the 2018 Côtes Du Rhône Mon Coeur, which is medium-bodied and has a pure, elegant texture, silky tannins, and a clean finish. This classy, balanced Côtes Du Rhône has loads to love, and it should keep nicely for 4-6 years as well.
Going back to 1481, when the first Jean-Louis Chave was gifted a vineyard in St Joseph by the nobleman Farconnet, 25 generations have farmed some of the best parcels in the Northern Rhône. Though now known as perhaps the best producer of Hermitage (and certainly among the best blenders in the world), the family only expanded to this famous hill during the mid-1800s wave of phylloxera that decimated Europe's vineyards.
In the 1970s, when Gerard Chave took over from his father, the domaine rapidly achieved megastar status due to the extraordinary quality of his wines. Gerard's son Jean-Louis (25th of his name) now oversees the estate and has shown an ever expanding dedication to improving the already stunning quality of these rare wines. Jean-Louis Chave regularly dedicates the domaine to intense and exacting projects, the benefits of which will be seen by future generations. Indeed, the estate employs three full time stonemasons just to repair the traditional stone walls dotting the vineyards.
Since the 1990s, Jean-Louis Chave has offered a second label known as 'J.L. Chave Sélection' that provides a glimpse of the reason for the estate's fame at a fraction of the price. Many of these wines are from declassified estate wine and long term farming contracts, and are vinified in the domaine's primary cellar in Mauves.
Typically thought of as a baby Chateâuneuf-du-Pape, the term Côtes du Rhône actually doesn’t merely apply to the flatter outskirts of the major southern Rhône appellations, it also includes the fringes of well-respected northern Rhône appellations. White wines can be produced under the appellation name, but very little is actually made.
The region offers some of the best values in France and even some first-rate and age-worthy reds. Red wine varieties include most of the Chateâuneuf-du-Pape varieties like Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Counoise, as well as Carignan. White grapes grown include Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, among others.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.