Yann Chave is a young man who today creates some of the best and most elegant wines of the Northern Rhône. Yann took over from his father Bernard in 1996, having worked previously as a bank fraud inspector in Paris. He found that an office based career was not at all to his liking and so decided to try working with his father. Bernard’s wines were good without being exceptional, perhaps partly explained by the fact that his attention was also taken up cultivating apricots, cherries and peaches.
Today the domaine extends over seventeen hectares, fifteen and half in Crozes-Hermitage and the rest in Hermitage. His two cuvées of red Crozes are selected by parcel with Le Rouvre coming from old vines on his most southerly parcel at La Roche de Glun. His Hermitage comes from two vineyard sites with a large proportion from Beaume in the centre of the Hermitage appellation. Beaume has a clay/sandstone soil mixed with alluvial deposits from the Alps so is markedly different from the granite based sites further to the West. The wines from this area have much more immediate appeal with plenty of ripe, soft fruit.
Yann works his vineyards organically and in spite of the problems posed by certain vintages, such as the early part of 2008, he is convinced that he has gained a tremendous amount in terms of better soil structure, fruit quality and lower pH levels, providing him with grapes that are not only more intense in aroma but that give better, finer structure to his wines. Under Yann’s guidance the wines have quickly risen to become some of the finest in both Crozes–Hermitage and Hermitage.
His vinification techniques differ depending on the wine. The white Crozes is fermented in tank and the malolactic fermentation is blocked in order to retain as much freshness as possible. For all the reds the grapes are 100% de-stemmed and lightly crushed. The Crozes-Hermitage ‘Tradition’ is fermented only in tank with a gentle oxygenation to open up the wine in its youth whilst Le Rouvre and the Hermitage both do their alcoholic fermentation in tank and are then transferred to 600 litre demi-muids where they undergo their malolactic fermentation and ageing for twelve months.