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TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS

Domaine Louis chèze

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There was a time in Louis Chèze’s life when he thought about giving it all up.

It was in the mid ‘80s, returning from Bordeaux with its vast reputation. He was still finding his way, on the small family estate he had founded in 1978, with a single hectare of Saint-Joseph vines in micro-plots. Still scrabbling around, a self-taught winegrower in an appellation that had yet to earn its spurs. But he kept going, because he is a man of the soil: vines are his beloved garden. “Everything is clearer when you’re in love”, said John Lennon, and Louis saw clear promise in this blessed hillside of Limony, where little by little he designed and planted his vineyards: comprising 30 hectares now, in Saint-Joseph and Condrieu, tended with meticulous care and unrestrained pleasure.

Around the original farmhouse, the facilities have grown substantially – ageing cellar, shop, offices… And with a little help from his friends, led by Georges Vernay, Louis Chèze has created a signature winemaking style, with thoroughbred cuvées that beguile so many experts. He now has a reputation, but it has not gone to his head. Celebrities and locals are all welcomed in the same simple way. A low-key Ardéchois, Louis wants his wines to remain affordable, and talks about his profession in whispered words of wisdom:

“There are no universal methods, in the vineyards or the cellar. Each vintage is a fresh challenge.”

 

Tomorrow, then, will always be a story yet to be told. And it is better that way. What Louis does know, however, is that his son Benoît is taking over. And that makes him very happy.

vineyards

15 ha in SAINT JOSEPH AOP RED. 1 ha in CÔTE-RÔTIE AOP (Syrah). 5 ha in SAINT JOSEPH AOP WHITE (Roussanne, Marsanne). 5 ha in CONDRIEU AOC (Viognier). 8 ha of VIN DE PAYS (Syrah, Marsanne, Viognier). • TERROIRS: granitic-soil hillsides of Limony.

CELLAR

REDS: grapes hand-picked in small crates, bunches sorted on sorting table, destemmed, then grapes sorted on a vibrating sorting table and gravity-fed into vats. Long vatting in temperature-controlled vats, funnelled while warm into barrels for malolactic fermentation.• WHITES: grapes hand-picked in small 10 kg crates. Bunches sorted on vibrating table, gravity-fed into presses. Must racked cold, clear must funnelled into barrels for alcoholic and malolactic fermentations.

WINES

SAINT JOSEPH REDCuvée des Anges: Syrah (100%). Very old vines, 25 hl/ha yield, aged 20 months in new barrels. • Cuvée Caroline: Syrah (100%). Old vines, 35 hl/ha yield, aged 14 months in barrels (25% new). • Cuvée Ro-Rée: Syrah (100%). Vine age: 15 years. 40 hl/ha yield, aged in barrels. • SAINT JOSEPH WHITECuvée Ro-Rée: Marsanne (60%), Roussanne (40%). Vine age: 20 years. Vinified and aged in barrels. • CONDRIEUPagus Luminis: Viognier (100%). Vinified and aged in barrels. • Brèze: Viognier (100%). Grapes harvested very ripe, vinified, stirred and aged in barrels (30% new).
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