The Chaves have been growing grapes in the Northern Rhône since 1481. Jean-Louis Chave is the 16th generation to head up the family domaine, having taken over from his father in 1992.
While the domaine is based in Saint-Joseph, its reputation is intrinsically linked to Hermitage – producing arguably the finest red and white wines from this iconic hillside.
Unlike other top producers of Hermitage such as Chapoutier, which releases different lieux-dit cuvées of Hermitage, Chave only produces one red Hermitage cuvée made from a blend of the different terroirs. Despite this, Chave’s style is influenced by the predominant granite soil type of his vineyards – Chave’s red Hermitage therefore has a leaner, tighter structure than La Chapelle, for instance, which is distinctly fleshier.
There are currently three domaine wines that are released every vintage – Hermitage, Hermitage Blanc and Saint-Joseph. On occasion the domaine releases a special Hermitage cuvée called Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin (named after the artist Bernard Cathelin, a close family friend). When the climate conditions are right, they also produce a Hermitage Vin de Paille – a straw wine – in which the white grapes are dried for three months prior to fermentation in barrel. More recently the domaine has released a single-vineyard Saint-Joseph cuvée called Clos Florentin.
Jean-Louis Chave also runs a highly successful négociant business called J.L. Chave Sélection which releases a variety of red and white wines from the Northern Rhône including a Saint-Joseph red (Offerus) and white (Céleste), a Crozes-Hermitage red (Silène) and white (Sybile), and a Hermitage red (Farconnet) and white (Blanche). There is also a red Côtes du Rhône called Mon Coeur.