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Jean Louis Chave

Jean-Louis Chave has a long and rich heritage. His family have been growing grapes and making wine in the Northern Rhône since 1481 when they were granted land by the local lord, and since then the domaine has passed from father to son in an unbroken line. The original estate was at Bachasson in Saint Joseph, but when phylloxera struck and decimated the vineyards in the 1870's, the family moved to Hermitage - which tuned out to be a good move! Jean-Louis took over from his father Gérard in 1992, after finishing his wine studies at UC Davis and an MBA at Hartford. He is the 16th generation to head up the family business. Jean-Louis uses grapes from his own extensive holdings to make wine under the Hermitage and Saint Joseph appellations, but he also has a highly successful négociant business and releases a variety of wines from the Northern Rhône under the Jean-Louis Chave Sélection label. There are 13.9 hectares of owned vines on the terraced vineyards of the Hermitage hill. These comprise 9.3 hectares of Syrah planted through seven different sites, which provide a range of microclimates for blending, and 4.6 hectares of Marsanne and Roussanne for his white wines, all farmed with organic principles. Chave are one of the biggest landowners in the Hermitage appellation. Jean-Louis has also rejuvenated the Bachasson vineyard and other forgotten plots. Some of the vines are over 80 years old .Yields are kept low, and picked late to achieve optimum ripeness. A minimal intervention approach is taken in the cellar, with each parcel of grapes vinified and barrel-aged separately so that the character of each site shines through and enables Jean-Louis to craft his magic in the blending. All the wines are blended with the exception of Cuvée Cathelin, which is named in honour of the deceased artist Bernard Cathelin who had been a close friend. This wine is not released every year and then only in limited quantities, making it one of the most collectable wines of the region. The wines are influenced by the granite terroir and are all meticulously crafted and bottled without filtration. Jean-Louis Chave is arguably the finest producer of red and white Hermitage in the business, recognised as a benchmark, synonymous with classically made Hermitage. These are wines with distinctive characters and exquisite complexities.