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Clos St. Jean visit (CdP)

October 26, 2010

Rarely do I look forward to Monday mornings, usually preferring the comfy confines of my bed to the mind-gnashing monotony of 8 mph on eastbound Interstate 10. October 26th was considerably different. Anxiously excited to hit some A-7 pavement, I practically jumped out of bed at the first sound of my alarm – set to “Marimba.” This morning marked the the beginning of my first visit to the place I consider the winemaking mecca of the world ---- Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Our first appointment was set for 10am at Clos St. Jean. Ashley and I arrived at Clos St. Jean a few minutes early, but couldn’t seem to find anyone around. I poked my head into a couple buildings. Nothing. I see a wine press in operation over there — maybe someone’s over there? Nope. Knocked on doors. Knocked on windows. Knocked on more doors. More windows. Nothing. Finally, someone emerged from one of the buildings and asked if we were looking for Domaine Clos St. Jean. “Yes. Isn’t this it?” Kinda. We were at the old location. Doh! So, we hopped back in our car and skurried across town to the new location, where we arrived 15 minutes behind schedule. Co-owner, Vincent Maurel greeted us, and we all had a good little chuckle over our early-morning (mis)adventures ... and so the experience began.

Vincent handles more of the business side of the business, whereas his brother, Pascal, handles more of the winemaking and vineyard side of the business. Vincent led us on an interesting tour of the facility, showing us the humongous foudres, concrete tanks, bottling room, and the domaine’s cellar.

Clos St. Jean does make a white wine, comprised of equal parts Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Clairette. This white accounts for merely 2% of Clos St. Jean’s production.

Clos St. Jean’s bread and butter, however, is their magnificent lineup of reds. Clos St. Jean owns 40 hectares of vineyards, and its Grenache vines were planted 105 years ago. I enjoyed all three wines we tasted here, but my favorite was the one with the most Mourvedre in the cepage, the 2008 Deus ex Machina.

An interesting little tidbit before I get into the Tasting Notes: on every label of Clos St. Jean, you will find a north-south oriented shipping code: It contains a country code and the last four digits indicate the month and year the bottle was shipped from the domaine. Take a look next time you see a bottle.

The Tasting Notes:
2008 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (10/26/2010)
– tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 15 minutes –
– 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Vacarese, Cinsault, Mourvedre –

NOSE: fresh red berries; a bit minerally.
TASTE: red berry; cement; clean; good juiciness; tannins come through on the end; moderate concentration of fruit; gentle alcohol warmness of the palate from the 16.4% alc.; medium-full bodied.

2008 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Combe des Fous - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (10/26/2010)
– tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 15 minutes –
– 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Vacarese, 10% Cinsault –

NOSE: perfumed Nose; red berries.
TASTE: clearly-delineated blue/red fruit flavors; spicy on the long finish; 16.2% alc.; fine grained tannins; a feminine CdP. The Grenache for this cuvee comes from the southern Clos St. Jean plots. This was my second favorite of the tasting, behind the Deus.


2008 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deus-Ex Machina - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (10/26/2010)
– tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 15 minutes –
– 60% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre –

NOSE: dark-fruited Nose; spicy; deep and complex; clean; Mourvedre is apparent.
TASTE: complex Palate of slightly bitter earthiness, loganberry; and spice; clean; 16.3% alc.. The Grenache for this cuvee comes from the northern Clos St. Jean plots. This was my favorite of the three ‘08's we tasted at Clos St. Jean, barely nosing-out the Combe des Fous, and might be the best 2008 CdP we tasted during our stay. Very very well-done, especially for the vintage.[/list]

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