The 2013 Chevalier Les Pends Crozes-Hermitage positively sings from the glass. In a class by itself, the 2013 Les Pends Blanc offers a golden-hued robe and a rich, intoxicating bouquet that several panel members dubbed “hedonism in a glass.” Intoxicating scents of honeysuckle, summer flowers, exotic fruits, and soft vanilla notes all caress the nose. In the mouth the pleasure continues, as the 2013 Les Pends Blanc offers superb texture and smooth complex flavors replete with floral, fruit and mineral tones to truly savor. And just the right touch of oak frames all these flavors and adds to the wine’s long silky finish. Awarded at least 90 points from critics, including The Wine Advocate, Nicholas Chevalier’s 2013 Les Pends Crozes-Hermitage from 100% Marsanne grapes is nothing short of a masterpiece. But just wait! As splendid as the 2013 Chevalier Les Pends Blanc is upon first opening, the first sips are just a glimpse at what is to follow. White wines from the northern Rhône such as Crozes-Hermitage require breathing time and benefit considerably from aeration, much like the region’s fine reds. Consequently, we suggest affording the 2013 Cave Chevalier Les Pends Blanc at least fifteen minutes of aeration before serving. We suggest moderate chilling (about 40° F), though some panel members preferred this wine even less chilled, so as you like it! Salut!
The finest white wines of the northern Rhône, such as Cave Chevalier’s 2013 Les Pends Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, age well and offer splendid accompaniments to rich foods. Foie gras, terrines, cured meats, and the herb-infused fish and vegetable dishes so prominent in the cooking of southern France offer excellent choices to pair with this wine. Prosciutto wrapped honeydew melon makes a good starter. A shrimp and avocado salad and a spicy chicken salad made with apple, coriander, and pecans also provide delightful pairings with this wine. Many Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese specialties will provide excellent complements to the 2013 Chevalier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc as well. Hunan or Sichuan dishes, prepared with a pungent garlic sauce, and Fresh Spring Rolls offer exemplary complements, too. Although white Rhône wine is not traditionally thought of as a sit around sipping kind of wine, Nicolas Chevalier’s 2013 Les Pends Blanc provides a notable exception, especially when ripe pears or a few morsels of soft creamy cheeses are available to accompany it. Enjoy!
Marlène and Nicolas Chevalier farm a mere 3.5 acres of prime vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage from which they make several outstanding white and red Rhône offerings. Although diminutive in size, Cave Chevalier is large in stature: its wines have been garnering acclaim for more than three centuries and its red and white Crozes-Hermitage offerings remain benchmarks by which the wines of Crozes-Hermitage are measured.
The Chevaliers grow only two grape varietals at their meticulously tended estate: Marsanne for white wine and Syrah for red wine, from which they fashion two white wines and two red wines in tiny lots from individual sites. Each is a singular expression of either Marsanne or Syrah. In the case of the Chevaliers’ 2013 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pends Blanc (this month’s feature), less than a handful of 400 liter barrels were made. Our club members and a couple of renowned restaurants in the United States are the only American recipients of this rare Rhône wine.
Nicolas Chevalier has traveled far and wide in his young life to hone extraordinary winemaking skills. After completing studies in agronomy and enology in France, he headed to South Australia’s Clare Valley where he mastered various techniques for fermenting Shiraz (Syrah). He then set sail for California where he worked with Kendall Jackson in perfecting his white winemaking skills. And if those two stints were not enough post-graduate work, Nicolas traveled to South Africa in 2002 to work at the legendary three hundred year old Boschendal estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a winery renowned for its superb Syrah based wines.
All of Cave Chevalier’s fruit is hand harvested and only new Allier oak is ever employed in the upbringing of the estate’s wines. Great pains are taken by the Chevaliers to protect the environment, which means sustainable agricultural practices prevail. The result is a bevy of rare and unique wines of splendid character, depth, and definition. While Nicolas tends the vineyards and fashions each cuvee, Marlène handles all of the sales and marketing for Cave Chevalier. Together, they provide the fortunate few a glimpse of authentic Crozes-Hermitage.
Crozes-Hermitage is located half way between Lyon and Marseille, astride the swift flowing Rhône River as it makes haste to the Mediterranean. Its neighbors are Côte-Rôtie and the more famous appellation of Hermitage from which it draws its name as well as its spiritual calling. Crozes-Hermitage is the largest of the northern Rhône wine appellations with just over 3,000 acres. The climate is continental, unlike its counterparts in the southern Rhône, which means winters are cold and often wet, while summers are typically long and hot. The soil is a mixture of clay, sand, gravel, and highly prized galets roulés, the long flat stones that are most synonymous with Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the south. The climate and composition of the soil make the region’s grapes dig deep into the ground. Syrah is the most densely planted varietal in Crozes-Hermitage and the only legal red grape in the appellation. Marsanne and Roussanne are the two permitted white grape varietals. Although traditionally known for its full-bodied red wines, Crozes-Hermitage is today as highly regarded for its complex, aromatic white wines.
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