Now this is what Rhone-style blends are all about. And at $8.99, it cost less than half what I'd have to pay for a cheap imitation from California. The Grenache dominates the blend so it's a medium light crimson. Good brilliance with colors shading out from the center. The nose offers bright cherry fruit with high-toned '03 aromatics. It's ripe but not overdone. Not at all thick or clumsy, it's smooth on the palate with fresh fruit flavors stressing deep cherry/berry notes. This wine is drinking well right now with no signs of fading. I prefer the 2001 but can understand how others might go for this 2003.
2003 was the first year Phillippe Cambie took over winemaking at Clos Saint Jean, and I think his influence was positive. All the flavors and smells are clean, clear and well focused. For Clos Saint Jean Chateauneufs, Cambie used new oak treatment for the Syrah and Mourvedre components but not for the Grenache. I agree with his view that Grenache does not take well to new oak--becoming overly jammy and one-dimensiional as a result of its time in barrel. I doubt that any components of this Vin de Pays were aged in new oak, and that may be one reason it is an infinitely more interesting wine than the Westside Red from Paso Robles.