JLC Selections Saint Joseph Blanc

The beginning of spring can feel a bit like a false promise. Like a news anchor announcing, “up next” ten times before finally getting to the story you’ve been waiting for, spring can keep us impatiently waiting for sunnier days and warmer weather - especially this year. But rather than lament the never-ending “atmospheric rivers”, I say let’s embrace rainy nights at home and snowy slopes in Tahoe! Let’s don our best cozy sweaters and savor the arrival of tasty spring vegetables prepared in the most comforting and belly warming ways. And of course, I have the perfect wine for this.

This bundle’s Roussanne is made by Jean-Louis Chave, the 16th generation of an unbroken French winemaking lineage. To say he’s one of the most famous winemakers in all of France, and maybe even the world, is no exaggeration, but we’ll get back to his story in just a bit.

With spring aromas of white flowers and orchard fruit anchored by toasted bitter almond, fennel, beeswax, and ginger, this isn’t a zippy summer quencher, but rather a complex and weighted white wine enlivened by its inherent minerality. It’s a wine to pair with a good novel or that Netflix documentary you’ve been meaning to watch rather than the latest rom-com or Avengers movie. (How many of those are the going to make!?)

Given the rich and rounded qualities of this wine, it benefits from a good chill in the fridge before serving to maintain its freshness. It has a subtle bitter quality (which I adore) and less acidity than some other whites you might enjoy, so I’d avoid pairing this with overly bitter or acidic foods to preserve its lovely balance. Finishing this bottle in one night is also recommended - I find the toasted nut and beeswax quality start to dominate after the wine has been open more than 24 hours.

Now on to the best part - which recipes will make this wine sing?


Curious to learn more?


“The Chave line… could make a fair claim to be France’s winemaking royal family: in no other of France’s great terroirs is the largest individual landholder so deeply rooted in time and place, so supremely competent, and so modest a custodian of insights and craftsmanship of the past.Andrew Jeffords, The New France

The Chave family have been growing wine in the northern Rhone region of France since 1491- almost three hundred years before America was founded! Current head winemaker, Jean-Louis Chave is the most recent in a line of sixteen generations of unbroken lineage over five centuries. What truly sets this domain apart is not merely the length of its history, but the extent of its commitment to producing some of the absolute finest Syrah and Roussanne the world has ever seen. Both the whites and reds from the appellation of Hermitage can age magnificently for decades and are coveted at auctions and on celebrated restaurant wine lists around the world. For many wine lovers and collectors, Chave and Hermitage are synonymous for the highest quality possible.

Now, you may be scratching your head - or frantically checking your credit card statement - to figure out how or why we’re featuring a wine from such a world-renowned producer in our regular collection. Don’t worry a second longer though because there is a new “négociant label” for the Chave family, JLC Selections, which features wines made by purchased (top-quality) grapes as well as the family’s own grapes from the Saint-Joseph appellation, coincidentally where the winery facility itself is located. The JLC line represents a more accessible way for wine lovers to taste the Chave portfolio, and to get a glimpse of what all the hype is about. Rather than lowering their standards along with the price tag, the family has committed to producing these wines with the same traditional methods for producing top quality wine - perfectionist farming, low yields, optimal ripeness, minimal new oak, minimal manipulation, and no filtration - that has earned them such worldwide fame with their Hermitage blends. The Chave reputation is not built on tricks or new techniques, but rather on five centuries of dedication to creating a pure representation of Northern Rhone terroir in the bottle.

The Saint-Joseph vineyard where these Marsanne grapes hail from had been abandoned in the 1900s when phylloxera hit the region, but Jean-Louis painstakingly replanted the vines when he returned home to work alongside his father in 1992 (after completing his degree at Oenology at our very own UC Davis). The hillside behind the winery is composed of granite soils, providing wines with a lively mineral backbone and fresh energy - qualities that are particularly beautiful when balanced against the rounded mouthfeel and texture of Northern Rhone white wines. Many of the wines you see available in retail shops or restaurant lists from the Saint-Joseph appellation come from the valley bottom, rather than the steep hillsides with perfect exposure to sun, drainage, and air, like this wine. So not only are we blessed with a wine from such a highly regarded producer, but he is showing us perhaps the best portion of an underrated and misrepresented appellation as well. So cheers to that!

     *Winery and vineyard photos courtesy of Elizabeth Flax