I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker Jean-Louis Chave

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Episode 352 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Jean-Louis Chave of Domaine Jean-Louis Chave and Jean-Louis Chave Selection in the Rhone Valley.

At the Chave family home in Mauves there exists an archive of notebooks from every generation of the family, stretching back into the 1400s AD. Some of these are written in an old rendering of the French language that would be unreadable today if it were not for the translations provided by the middle generations. This archive chronicles the important life events for each member of the family, and continues into the current day. The contemporary Jean-Louis Chave, when he looks back over this record, seems most impressed by those in his family that were able to summarize their lives in a single page of text. Today there is so much more to say, he comments in this interview, but he says this in a manner that suggests his preference is for the style of former times. Perhaps it is surprising then that Jean-Louis sat for this interview, as the record would seem to show that he rarely grants them. Be that as it may, the wealth of detail that is contained in this episode is near astonishing. It suggests the possibility that Jean-Louis has been saving up his words for such an occasion. And indeed the revelations tumble out. In which years is the Cathelin made? Jean-Louis explains the decision-making. Are there white grapes in red Hermitage, in the manner we associate with Cote-Rotie? It turns out yes, there are. Is Hermitage Blanc historically made from Marsanne and Roussanne? Well…not really. What was the most famous wine of the Hermitage hill? The answer may surprise you. That is to say, this is treasure trove of information about some of the world’s greatest wines. And a helpful addition to what is known about the work of the Chave family over the generations.

This episode also contains a Warm Up from Erin about the wines of Hermitage.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine