TN: 2004 (Domaine) Chave - St. Joseph- a surprise

Decanted an hour or so ahead and served blindly, this seemed for all the world like a New World wine. Not much on the nose. In the mouth, it seemed quite oaky, though I didn’t find that objectionable. It showed some age, and a bit of alcohol. It was round and sweet, with a slightly hot, sweet finish. Tasting blindly the grape was indeterminate.

The person who served this typically brings what are to me gag-inducing, mid-range “hedonistic” wines – super ripe, super oaky, burn-your-throat wines that often force me to make discrete trip to the kitchen to dump my glass. So I figured I’d lucked out this time. This wine was potable, if rather neutral – maybe 82 points.

What a disappointment when it was unveiled. This is the estate-grown St. Joseph, not the Offerus, which is made with purchased grapes. Not much Northern Rhone here. (Ironic footnote: And Parker thought the 04 Northern Rhones were green!)

As for my luck, it ran out when the same person offered up a companion wine that was more in line with my expectations: a 2010 Yalir - Judean Heights (Israel) syrah. Inky color. In the mouth… Pow! Big! Hot! Lots of cooked/candied syrah flavors. Luckily I was hosting and had put out dump buckets, so there was no need to duck out the kitchen. Bleccch. Somewhere in the 70s.

On the positive side, we were actually able to detect syrah in the Yalir. And, since the wine was kosher, there was a good excuse for the cooked flavors.

I had a similar feeling when opening a Breca garnacha from Spain: big, ripe, no finish, bleech tasting. Not even a bargain at 10 bucks. Surprised to see you had a bad reaction to Chave’s St. Joe. Makes me want to try one of mine (2007) and hope for the best.

John –

Seeing the title of your thread, I held out hope that the Chave might have surprised you in a positive way.

Unfortunately, my experience with these wines mirror your reaction. I’ve got a small stash of the Estate St Joseph’s from mid 2000s. I used to pat myself on the back, thinking these must be a great value play for N. Rhone from one of the great producers in the region. But honestly, I’m always a bit disappointed. They are a bit blocky/chunky/four-square as you describe, without much site character or enjoyment frankly. Maybe decades will soften these wines but I’m not sure …

Maybe it’s time for a “Does Chave Suck?” thread. [stirthepothal.gif] [snort.gif]

Well, I just purchased some 2004 Chave St. Joseph, but I’m okay with that. All those I’ve had have been excellent, and pretty true to Chave style. The 2003 is what the 2003 Hermitage should have been, rather than the freakish thing it is.

I had the first of my 2004s the other day. I have no idea how it could be confused for a new world wine. I thought it was pretty classic Chave. It’s a bit leaner and higher acid than some of the recent vintages, or at least it appeared that way to me.

Interesting, as I’m planning on this bottle for Monday dinner. I do think that Chave has been developing and adding to his St Joe vineyard(s) quite a bit over the past decade. Recent vintages have been outstanding for my tastes.

Did you taste it blind?

The 2003 Chave Hermitage is true to the vintage, but the vintage was definitely “exceptional” …
The 03 H is coming together … it was very impressive after bottling, but marked by the dryness and heat of 2003, enourmously concentrated.
The last bottle I´ve tasted (last fall) was already more transparent, with more obvious structure, less packed with ripe fruit and recoognizable as great Hermitage. Not yet mature.
In another 10-12 years it will be a great wine on it´s apogee.

To the St.Joseph: I´ve never been a great fan of the appellation at all, I always prefered Crozes-Hermitages (not to speak of Hermitage, Cote-Rotie, Cornas) to St.Joseph, I found them often too fruity, too harmless etc. However, particularily Chave´s is a fine example … and with a certain age it is usually an excellent wine (but I haven´t had the 2004). However it´s pricey - and probably not worth the price because it´s still St.Joseph.

Nevertheless I loved the 2012, I would recommend drinking it between 2020 and 2025.
Drink the 2003 St.J now and over the next years (that´s the difference to the Hermitage !)

Perhaps the bottle I had had been infected by being stored alongside all the other plonk this guy owns. [snort.gif]

(Craig – You are talking about the St Joseph, I take it, and not the 04 Hermitage.)

Prompted by this thread, I brought one to dinner with winegrowing friends last night. It was pretty much as Craig describes, consistent with what I would have expected from a 2004 Rhone wine. Probably a bit of brett in there as well to add some not-repulsive funk.

Yes, I’m talking about the St. Joseph. Alan, I believe my bottle may have had a touch of Brett too.

David, not blind. My mom made me stop once I needed glasses.

I thought there was something wrong with me when I didn’t get excited about the 09 Offerus. I guess I’ll try the domaine wine, figuring 09 is supposed to be good, but this doesn’t leave me feeling like its a must have.

If you want to try one and can find the 11, I would try that. Honestly I’m not convinced that Chave St. Joseph is good value, but it is Chave so it works for me. Whether that is about me or the wine, I don’t know and I don’t care. I haven’t found another one that really motivates me (even Gonon).

I tried the 2004 a few years ago and it was more in line with Craig’s bottle, but back then I thought it more than a bit high acid – I thought it was really dominated by the acidity and decided not to open either of my two remaining bottles for some time. The couple of times I’ve had the 2005, on the other hand, I thought them exceptionally good, just what I’d remembered from older bottles (when they cost a very affordable $30.)

Frank, if that 2004 had been closed up, it might have tasted like a ball of acid. It’s my first try so I’m not sure what it was like in the past.

Well, of course, it would be nice if the price was lower (I’d still be a buyer), but after all it’s about the wine in the bottle, not the appellation on the label that matters.

These days I think there may be at least as much really good, serious St. Joseph as really good Crozes.

Put the Crozes under screw cap, and Gerhard will be touting the inherently superior quality of St. Joseph.

Stylistically, these wines seem to bear no resemblance to the Hermitage, which I found to be an incredible disappointment.

I place Chave Hermitage in the same realm as Rayas, but the latter actually produces wines that are stylistically quite similar on the lower end. The Pialade can be one hell of a wine for $30-$40, whereas the Chave St. Joseph at $60 is a bit of an ass beating. Well crafted for sure, but lacking much of the character that made me fall in love with Chave.