This is another high-acid, fruity wine that matches up well with a Mediterranean dish like Ribollito [see note below]. It's medium deep with some browning around the edges. Southern Rhone fruit and spice dominate, with a hint of crushed black pepper. The acid level is high enough to provide a good match for the vegetables, but the wine still gives the impression of ripeness and plumpness.
Clos Saint Jean is located in Chateauneuf du Pape, and the vineyards for Les Calades lie just outside the appellation. Clos Saint Jean Chateauneufs were once among the most traditional (and inexpensive) of the appellation, and I got great enjoyment from the 1989, 1990, 1995 and 1998. Les Calades, at $3 to $4 a bottle, was one of my favorite house wines through the 1990s. Starting with the 2003 vintage, Clos Saint Jean hired a winemaker (the very talented and highly regarded Phillipppe Cambie) and started making wines in a more modern style, with some use of new oak and small barrels. I don't deny that some of these changes were for the better, but the prices are much higher now. The 2003 Les Calades was still a bargain when it came on the market, and I bought a case that has already given me more than my money's worth. At this point, however, the 2003 is taking on some tired, burnished notes and tastes older than the 1993 did in 1999.