2021 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier, Crozes-Hermitage "La Motte"
2021 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier, Crozes-Hermitage "La Motte"

2021 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier, Crozes-Hermitage "La Motte"

Northern Rhône, France 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$35.00

2021 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier, Crozes-Hermitage "La Motte"

Because we offer a monthly club pack devoted to the art and science of blind tasting (it’s called “Blind 6,” f.y.i.), we’re always on the lookout for wines that are unmistakable classics—wines which, were they to be tasted without the label showing, would leave little to no doubt as to the grape and place they came from. This wonderfully peppery, meaty Crozes-Hermitage from Marlène and Nicolas Chevalier is one such wine: it is Northern Rhône Syrah through and through, and the price point is simply unbeatable. Aficionados of these wines know that Crozes-Hermitage is the largest, and most variable, appellation among the assorted Syrah-driven AOCs of the Northern Rhône, but that’s why we’re here: To sift through the mass and find the best. This wine is everything one could ask for in Northern Rhône Syrah at a fantastic price, simple as that—don’t let it pass you by!

Longtime subscribers know that we maintain a fairly tight rotation of Crozes-Hermitage producers (Domaine Combier; Etienne Bécheras), but Nicolas and Marlène Chevalier—a brother-sister team who also farm apricots, the other key crop in this part of the Rhône Valley—have broken into the starting lineup with this ’21. Their winery and 17 hectares of vines are in the village of Chanos-Curson, which is about 6/7 kilometers from Tain l’Hermitage and its famous, granitic Syrah Shangri-La. The Chevaliers farm parcels in a series of key lieu-dits (named sites) just north of the village, including the source site for this wine: “La Motte.” This vineyard sits on an elevated terrace in soils of pebbly, rounded river rocks mixed with reddish clay, effectively at a point in the Crozes-Hermitage where the more granite-dominated northern section of the appellation gives way to the richer, clay-heavy plains of the south. There’s no doubt that the “La Motte” vineyard, and the wine it produces, is a stylistic child of that more-northerly sector—it is powerful but focused and quite savory (almost reminiscent of Côte-Rôtie, actually).

Previous generations of Chevaliers had sold their grapes to the local winemaking cooperative in Tain l’Hermitage, but, since 2009, Nicolas and Marlène have gone the “estate bottled” route, producing both reds and whites (including a rare Crozes-Hermitage Blanc from 100% Marsanne) from vineyards they are re-planting as needed and farming according to sustainable principles. This wine from La Motte was fermented on native yeasts in stainless steel and aged for about a year in 600-liter French oak barrels before bottling.

And while many Crozes-Hermitage wines lean into a more purple-fruited, chunky, softly contoured expression of the Syrah grape, this one is decidedly soil-driven, savory, and spicy. In the glass, it displays a classic ruby/black/purple Syrah hue, and there are many “classic” Syrah markers on the nose and palate: boysenberry, huckleberry, and Damson plum for the fruits; violets and lavender for the flora; and then lots of roasted meat, black pepper, and black olive filling in the rest. The wine is medium-plus in body and has a fair nip of tannin, but that’s nothing 30-60 minutes in a decanter before service can’t fix. It is delicious now and promises to continue improving over the next 3-5 years, and as far as a pairing goes, keep it as Old School and classic as you can: In this instance, something incorporating lamb feels like a must. Enjoy!

2021 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier, Crozes-Hermitage "La Motte"

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