Monday, February 18, 2013

Clos Saint Jean Vin de Pays Vaucluse Les Calades, 2001

Prior to 2003, when Clos Saint Jean hired a consultant and started getting rave reviews from Robert Parker, the domaine had a local reputation for being "not very commercial." The Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape, which had been labeled old fashioned by Mr. Parker prior to 2003, was sold at the very low end of the price scale ($10 to $12), and the Vin de Pays Les Calades for only $5 to $6 a bottle.

I have gone through numerous cases of Les Calades since the late 1980s and consumed the wines at all stages of their development. In youth, they are good. In middle age (6 to 8 years), they are often funky. When fully mature (10 years of age or older), they often show the qualities of a smaller scaled Chateauneuf du Pape. And that should not be a surprise because the vineyards (calades = stones) are old and only a stone's throw from the Chateauneuf appellation.

I've worked my way through two cases of this 2001, and it has always met all my expectations--only a bit of funk during middle age and very good tonight at 12 years of age. Deep, deep cherries. Spice, tobacco and sea salt. The winemaking may have been a bit backward and imperfect before 2003, but with time, the the rocky old vineyards eventually show their quality.

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