Thursday, August 13, 2015

Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape, 1995

In writing about this wine a few years ago, I suggested that it might drink better at 10 rather than 15 years of bottle age. With this bottle, let me amend that observation: it is far better at 20 years than at either 10 or 15.

At the time this wine was produced, Clos Saint Jean made very traditional wines that Robert Parker spurned as "old fashioned"--no destemming and extended aging in large old barrels known as foudres. In 2003, the estate hired Philippe Cambey as a consultant, and the wines produced today are more modern and international in style. They get rave reviews from Robert Parker and are about three or four times more expensive than they were in the late 1990s. The vineyards here are some of the best in Chateauneuf du Pape, however, and my view is that great wine is made in the vineyard.

The color is a medium brick, not unexpected after 20 years in the bottle. But that is the only sign of aging I detect. I smell cherries, warm spices and old vine character. Classic Chateauneuf du Pape; reminds me of an old Vieux Telegraphe. Medium weight and very smooth on the palate. Just hitting its prime. Old vine Grenache is shining. Cherry/berry sweetness plus savory spices on a long, long finish.

The price tag from D&W Market reads $12.99, but I buy at times when a 15% or 20% discount is offered for the purchase of six or more bottles. I bought at least six bottles of this 1995 and now wish I had bought more.

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