2003 was a watershed year for Clos Saint Jean; it was the year the Maurels brought in the prestigious consultant Phillippe Cambie to help produce their wines. Up until that time, the Chateauneufs of Clos Saint Jean had a strong following (including myself) but were dismissed by Robert Parker as being hopelessly old fashioned. As far as I'm concerned, there was something positive about being old fashioned. Throughout the 1990s and late 1980s, I bought and enjoyed the CSJ Chateauneufs (the 1989, 1995 and 1998 were particularly good) and also this excellent Vin de Pays Vaucluse, which sold for $4 to $8 a bottle. Some vintages were rustic; others were fantastic, and the price was always right. The Chateauneufs did not seem to age as well as the Vin de Pays wines, which come from vines just outside the CdP appellation..
This was the last vintage that I was able to buy Les Calades in my market. I think I paid about $90 for a case, and it has given enjoyment comparable to that I got from earlier vintages. The wine still has a good bright color, though it has lightened, and there is bricking at the rim. It's much cleaner and less rustic than some vintages of the past. I get scents of cherries and Grenache spice. Smooth and clean on the palate but more than a little tired. It's still drinking well for a nine-year-old VDP, but I don't think it would measure up to the 1998 or 2001. I still have a bottle or two of those vintages which I should try very soon.