Marlène and Nicolas Chevalier have fashioned an exceptional Crozes-Hermitage in their 2016 Chevalier Crozes-Hermitage Marius, a wine that has become one of the appellation’s stars (earning 90 points from Wine Spectator) as well as a benchmark for other Crozes-Hermitage producers, even though only 400 cases of this full-bodied, flavorful Syrah were made. The 2016 Marius offers a savory bouquet and a wealth of blackberry and currant flavors, which are nicely infused with spice, tobacco and just enough toasted oak to frame the wine’s potpourri of flavors. Thanks to an ideal September and October in the Northern Rhône in 2016, the grapes enjoyed longer than usual hang times, endowing the 2016 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier Marius with a delightful purity and raciness to complement its bold flavors and firm structure. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest allowing the 2016 Marius at least 30 minutes of aeration before serving at cool room temperature (57°- 62° F).
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’ 2016 Crozes-Hermitage Marius (this month’s feature), only 400 cases were made. Our club members and a handful 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 300-year-old Boschendal estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a winery renowned for its superb Syrah-based wines.
All of the 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.
The 2016 Marlène & Nicolas Chevalier Crozes-Hermitage Marius makes an ideal companion to pastas, salads, legumes and cheeses as well as white and red meats. Baby back ribs, slow cooked with a smoky barbecue sauce, and barbecued chicken basted with olive oil, garlic and Provençal herbs offer especially tasty accompaniments to the 2016 Marius. Herbed couscous and quinoa based dishes also provide fine accompaniments to the Chevaliers’ exceptional 2016 Marius Crozes-Hermitage. For those looking for something heartier, consider marinated lamb kebobs with roasted peppers, onions, and tomatoes or a grilled ribeye steak served with haricots verts and garlic mashed potatoes. Red and yellow peppers stuffed with creamy risotto, spicy Italian sausage, and Parmesan cheese also make splendid companions to serve with the 2016 Marius Crozes-Hermitage. Bon appétit!
Crozes-Hermitage is located halfway 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 now as highly regarded for its aromatic and complex white wines.
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