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2018 Clos Saint Jean CDP la Combe des Fous

2018 Clos Saint Jean CDP la Combe des Fous

98 JD


From the critics:

97 RP

95 VM

93 WS

Featured Review
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

Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JD

Critic Reviews

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 for 2018 Clos Saint Jean CDP la Combe des Fous

Type of Wine Rhone Red
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.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

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


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.

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