2006 J L Chave Mon Coeur
Ah, the euro. The euro-U.S. dollar exchange rate is killing the pricing for European wines. A wine that was $10 in March is now $13. And I am afraid many wineries and importers have used this excuse to raise prices even more. Thus, our everyday Cotes-du-Rhone reds are now $15 and up. To find something special around $20 is rare, so we now discuss the 2006 J L Chave Mon Coeur Cotes-du-Rhone. Just the name Chave alone means quality, and this, the cheapest of his offerings, is no exception. A monstrous Cotes-du-Rhone, this red is meaty and dense, with dark berry, game, tobacco and a smattering of dark oak on the finish. Most Cotes-du-Rhones have some of these characteristics, but the Chave is bigger and more complex by far than the norm. At $20, it is on the higher end for a Cotes-du-Rhone. But this wine is closer to a Crozes-Hermitage in style, and a wine of this substance for $20 is rare, indeed.The Chave Mon Coeur is a traditional blend of syrah and grenache, with a little more syrah in the mix than most Cotes-du-Rhones. The grapes are from four separate vineyards, each farmed organically. Each vineyard’s grapes are vinified and aged separately for 12-18 months in French oak barrels. Only then is the final blend determined. This process intensifies the extra dark cherry flavors, and a smokiness and earthiness that adds body and depth. Strong but smooth tannins round out the wine, meaning it will age well for 2-5 years, longer if you like your reds super-smooth.Drink the Mon Coeur with steak au poivre, braised short ribs, and beef or elk stew. Any rich dark meat dish will do nicely.The Chave family first made wine in 1481. The winery has been passed from father to son for over 500 years, with Jean-Louis Chave and his father Gerard now in charge. Chave is known for their incredibly rare and expensive Hermitage. The Mon Coeur Cotes-du-Rhone gives you a glimpse of this great winery.
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