Jean-Louis Chave Selection Saint-Joseph Circa White 2016
The vineyards are located in Mauves on granitic slopes. It is the only white produced by Jean Louis Chave which comes from granitic soil. This wine is now available since 2009 thanks to the purchase by Domaine Jean Louis Chave of a well reputed historic St Joseph domaine. The wine is so stunning, Jean Louis continues to plant more Roussanne on the unplanted granite soils of this newly acquired domaine. This white St Joseph differs from the white Hermitage in that the soil of white Hermitage (clay and limestone) gives softness and suppleness to the wine whereas the granite soil expresses a wonderful minerality which perfectly accompanies food and gives an additional sense of vivacity.
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.
Full-bodied and flavorful, white Rhône blends originate from France’s Rhône Valley. Today these blends are also becoming popular in other regions. Typically some combination of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier form the basis of a white Rhône blend with varying degrees of flexibility depending on the exact appellation. Somm Secret—In the Northern Rhône, blends of Marsanne and Roussanne are common but the south retains more variety. Marsanne, Roussanne as well as Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picpoul and Ugni Blanc are typical.