Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 9, 2022

2019 Yann Chave, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Classique, Northern Rhone, France.
My very first quality Crozes-Hermitage was this Yann Chave’s basic no oak version and it really opened my eyes to Northern Rhone Syrah and I quickly became a huge fan of this region and still am today, it is one of my go to areas for great value in Northern Rhone Syrah with many delicious options, like this one, plus the wines of the other Chave (Jean-Louis), Yves Cuilleron, Alain Graillot, Saint Cosme and Vincent Paris to name a few. So, coming back to Yann’s Crozes always brings a smile and a delight to the senses, especially in vintages like this dark purple/ruby 2019 with its gorgeous and pure bouquet and palate of blue fruits, violets, earth and spice. The full bodied mouth feel is vinous and shows boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and creme de cassis along with camphor, iron, fresh cut violets, anise and cracked peppercorns accents in a youthfully firm, but fruit forward and joyously expressive wine.Yann took over from his father, Bernard Chave, and released his first solo effort in 2001, when the name of the Domaine also changed to Yann Chave, he instantly became a star and gained a cult like following with Syrah enthusiasts. While at that time, mostly what we saw coming from Crozes was pretty rustic and lean, but Chave’s wines had a richness and depth that set them apart and pushed the region to make higher quality stuff. He also has a tiny section of vines on the legendary Hermitage hill, though those bottlings are unicorn wine and almost impossible to find, while this one is a bit easier to get and a superb value.

Yann Chave’s The traditional (Classique) Crozes cuvée, 100% de-stemmed Syrah, is produced from vines grown around the three villages of Mercurol, La Roche de Glun and Pont de l’Isère with large round pebbles over loess soils. There are several plots of Syrah used here and they were planted at different times, but the winery says the average age of vines is close to 20 years. The farming of all of the Yann Chave vineyards is done with organic methods and the leaves of the canopy are trimmed around the fruit clusters for optimal exposure to sunlight, and grapes are harvested by hand and these picks are late to give ripe density to the wines. As with Yann’s white wines, he does not use selected yeasts, relying on indigenous yeasts to ferment his reds. Grapes as mentioned, are de-stemmed, and Chave then allow the vinification temperature to warm up gradually from 20° to 30°C, which he carefully maintains to achieve optimal extraction and coax out beautiful aromatics from the Syrah. Vatting or maceration lasts about three weeks on average, with pump-overs done twice a day, and Chave always tries to wet the whole surface of the cap. The aging is very shot on this Crozes-Hermitage lasting only a few moths and is exclusively in tank to preserve the fresh fruit character and avoiding any wood influence. This inky dark purple/black Crozes will appeal to Northern Rhone fans certainly, though it will equally impress even new world wine drinkers and it gets better and better in the glass, it is an exceptional vintage to stock up on and have with a robust winter meal.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive