2018 Clos Saint Jean CDP la Combe des Fous

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Wine Critic Reviews for 2018 Clos Saint Jean CDP la Combe des Fous

The star of the show in 2018 is the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape La Combe Des Fous and it has an incredible mix of complexity, power, and elegance that’s something to behold. Sporting a deep purple/plum color as well as a killer bouquet of blackcurrants, lavender, peppery garrigue, graphite, and white chocolate, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a seamless, multi-dimensional texture, incredible tannins, and a gorgeous finish. This is a good as 2018 gets and while it’s already impossible to resist, it’s going to evolve for 15+ years.

Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JD
The 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape La Combe des Fous features electric aromas of garrigue, exotic stone fruit, pomegranate, black cherries and perhaps even a touch of rose petals. Full-bodied and rich without being overly weighty or dense, plush and velvety on the finish yet vibrant and complex, this magnificent effort should drink well for at least a decade. From vines planted in 1905, it's approximately 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 10% Vaccarèse.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97 RP
Opaque ruby. A powerfully scented bouquet displays mineral-accented boysenberry and Chambord scents complemented by suggestions of pungent flowers, Indian spices and incense. Intense red/blue fruit preserve, cherry cola and fruitcake flavors show superb definition and silky texture. Comes off graceful despite its depth and finishes on a repeating floral note, displaying outstanding persistence and bright, mineral lift.

Vinous Media | 95 VM
A mix of steeped plum and black cherry fruit mixes with tobacco, chestnut and melted licorice notes. There's a touch of burl at first, but this quickly unwinds with air, showing a velvety edge on the finish. Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Vaccarèse. Best from 2021 through 2033. 409 cases made, 45 cases imported.

Wine Spectator | 93 WS

Wine Details on 2018 Clos Saint Jean CDP la Combe des Fous

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Producer Clos Saint Jean: The appellation of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape is teeming with rich terroir and proficient winemakers and growers who devote their lives to perfecting the art of their trade. Within this rocky and “fertile” wine growing region sits the La Crau plateau, which is known to host the vines that produce the greatest wines in all of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. Sitting atop this plateau on 41 hectares of prime terroir dwells the vines of Clos Saint Jean.

The history of this mighty estate dates back to 1900 when it was created by Edmund Tacussel. Devoted to his cause and ambitious in nature, Tacussel began producing, bottling and selling his own wine within a decade of its creation. This was unusual given most Southern Rhone wine-growers at that time sold their harvest in bulk to negociants. Even more intriguing is this incredible feat occurred 13 years before the AOP (Area of d’Origine Protegee) of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was created in 1923. Clos Saint Jean is one of the oldest estates in the appellation.

Despite its antiquity and the aspiring nature of Tacussel, Clos Saint Jean would produce ordinary, undistinguished Southern Rhone wines for nearly a century. The estate would finally earn fame with the release of its 2003 vintage, to which famous wine critic, Robert Parker enthusiastically stated, “This may well be one of the most exciting addresses not only in France, but in the entire world…. In short, these wines are not to be missed!” This outstanding praise has been mimicked and repeated by wine critics, reviewers and writers since 2003.

Brothers Vincent and Pascal Maurel and great grandsons of Edmund Tacussel took control of the family estate in 2002 and brought in Philippe Cambie as their consultant. Cambie, a highly regarded oenology consultant in Southern Rhone earned Robert Parker’s “Oenologist of the Year” award in 2010. Since 2003, the brothers with the assistance of Cambie have completely turned this previously unknown estate around. And… they have never looked back.

Around 60% of Clos Saint Jean’s vineyard is located on the famed La Crau Plateau, where the terroir is rich in iron-deposited red clays topped with the famous Rhone “galets.” These precious stones are vital to the health and vitality of the vine roots as they collect the sun’s rays during the day and ignite the soil with its heat overnight allowing a 24-hour nurturing cycle. Adjacent to the plateau, another 40% of its vines cultivate in alluvial clay and sandy soils. They also own a small parcel of Mourvedre in the lieu-dit of Bois-Dauphin, near Chateau Rayas, planted on sandy, limestone-rich soils.

The 41-hectare vineyard is planted with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccarese and Muscardin for the blending of their red Chateauneufs, while 1-hectare is reserved for their white and planted to Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Clairette. Their Chateauneuf-Du-Pape portfolio is impressive and consistently receives highly-rated professional reviews. It consists of their Vieilles Vignes, which is sourced from old-vines located in and around La Crau and has an annual production of around 7,000 cases. Combe des Fous, humorously translates to “hill of fools,” which earns its moniker for the difficult terroir of rocks that are quite large. It was left barren for centuries because of the intense layer of “galets” which littered the landscape and was assumed inhospitable for vine growth. It sees around 500 cases produced each year.

Deus ex Machina is a blend of old-vine Grenache from La Crau and Mourvedre from the sandy soils of the Bois-Dauphin lieu-dit. Production is around 500 cases annually. Sanctus Sanctorium is made from 100% Grenache from their oldest vines, well over 100 years of age and produced only in the best vintages. It is bottled entirely in magnum format and is limited to just 350 magnums each year of production. Professional wine critic, Jeb Dunnuck claims it to be “one of the greatest cuvees on earth.” This is a wine of incredible elusiveness; the effort put forth in finding it is well worth it. Finally, their Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Blanc is produced from equal parts, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Clairette. With only 1 hectare dedicated to these varietals, the production is quite limited and sees less than 350 cases annually.

Clos Saint Jean is considered by many critics and wine-writers as the preeminent estate espousing the modern style of winemaking in Chateauneuf. It has had an incredible awakening since the 2003 vintage and has stunned the world with its incredible and consistent release of rock star wines. “They are at the top of their game and producing some of the most singular, hedonistic and brilliant wines in the world,” states Jeb Dunnuck.
Region Rhone: While the Northern Rhone produces only about 5% of all wine coming out of the Rhone Valley, the quality of these bottles is not to be underestimated. The terroir in this region is heavenly for growing Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne - the only permitted grapes in the AOC. Picture this - the Rhone flows through the valley like an azure thread piercing the landscape, a reflection of the dreamy skies hovering above the vineyards, ready to produce rainfall at a moment's notice. The rocky soil of the steep, almost surreal hillsides provides a bountiful feast for the grapevine roots. The flavors and texture of Northern Rhone wines tell you everything you need to know as soon as your lips touch the elixir, like a whisper in the vigorous valley winds

As per the Southern Rhone wine, it is like taking a plunge into a whirlpool of juicy flavor. Every sip explodes forward like a crashing tsunami, bathing your tastebuds in delicious aromas of prune, chocolate, grass, and black fruit. The wines are so compelling that it can be hard to drink them casually at a social event without getting lost in their intricate textures and emotional depths. Let's set sail together, and drink deep from these luxurious bottles with our friends and loved ones.
Subregion Southern Rhone
Appellation Chateauneuf Du Pape
Country France: Words fail us when trying to adequately portray France's place in the world of wine. It's downright impossible to imagine what wine would feel and taste like had it not been for France's many, many viticultural pioneers. Fine wine is the blood of France's vigorously beating heart, and it finds itself in many aspects of French culture. With a viticultural history that dates all the way back to the 6th century BC, France now enjoys its position as the most famous and reputable wine region on the planet. If you have a burning passion for masterfully crafted, mouth-watering, mind-expanding wines, then regular visits to France are probably already in your schedule, and for a good reason.
Type of Wine Chateauneuf du Pape: You can expect Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds selection to wash over you with a combination of leather, game, tar, and delicious dried herbs, creating a spice mixture that commands respect from even the harshest non-believers. Chateauneuf-du-Pape whites are ever so refreshing and bold, frolicking in a field of floral notes and earthy minerals.
Varietal Proprietary Blend: Proprietary Blend is a general term used to indicate that a wine is comprised of multiple grape varietals which are either “proprietary” to the winery or is blended and does not meet the required maximum or minimum percentage of a particular varietal. This also is the case for the grape’s place of origin, especially for region, appellation or vineyard designated wines. There are endless examples of blended wines which are labeled as “Proprietary Blend” and in conjunction with each region’s stipulated wine laws and regulations makes for a vast blanket for wines to fall into. Perhaps the simplest example is California; if a wine is to be labeled as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, it is required to have at least 75% of the varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon) and 85% of the fruit must be cultivated from the Napa Valley wine district. If the wine does not meet the requirements, it is then labeled as Proprietary Blend.

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