This is a Saint-Joseph that shows the mineral, finely cut side of the appelation. When it was first released, three years ago, John Livingston-Learmonth called it “rather stately, impressive.” With time in the bottle it has just picked up elegance and complexity.
Natacha Chave is the woman behind Domaine Aleofane. Natacha grew up in a winemaking family. Her brother, Yann Chave, took over the family domaine when she was still studying philosophy. And when she finally decided to make wine, she knew she needed to strike out on her own—she “just didn’t like the limitations that would go along with joining [her] brother.”
Working without limitations has led to great things. She founded her domaine, Aléofane, with a tiny parcel in the old heart of Saint Joseph. Three years later she added some old vines in Crozes. She farms organically (she’s certified) and with biodynamic techniques. She's experimenting with new plantings of the old Sérine clone from massale selection. Sulfur use is minimal.
Her winemaking aims to let the fruit and terroir speak. She does very little extraction (a bit of pumping over) during the long, slow fermentations made on the natural yeasts. There’s about a week of maceration before she moves the wine to large demi-muids and some barrels for 10-12 months of aging. Her wines sound old-fashioned and traditional, and in a way they are. But they have an accessibility that seems to be her unique take on the approach.
Working like this, on her own terms only, means the wines get all her attention and are incredible expressions of her vision of the terroir. It also means there’s not a lot of bottles. She’s been discovered in Europe, so almost none of the little she makes comes to America. We held on to a bit of her 2015 and are happy to share it now.