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2012 Clos St. Jean Chateauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes
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This winery is no stranger to huge press from the Wine Advocate. With 8 wines hitting the 100 Point mark, this is arguably one of the greatest estates in the region right now! Sure, we know that scores don't tell the whole story. Neither can praise that makes wild claims that this tastes like some legendary wine, or "tastes like a $200 wine for only $50". What goes a long way, and is something today's feature winery has that is incredibly unique, was a burning desire from one of the world's foremost winemakers to partner up with these folks to make wine with them. Clos Saint Jean is truly one of the most unique wineries in the world. They've really only been on the scene since the 2003 vintage, and in a very short period of time, have become one of the most sought after producers in Chateauneuf du Pape. With the endlessly talented Phillipe Cambie making the wines, and proprietors Pascal and Vincent Maurel dedicated to supporting Cambie in any way they can, they are regularly turning out some of the top wines every year, but also some of the most remarkable values as well. 10 vintages later, and they still seem to know no limit to the quality they can produce. All of this hard work caught the eye of Santa Barbara megastar winemaker Manfred Krankel, known for his other worldly wines produced under his Sine Qua Non label, Krankel sought out the Maurel brothers to see if he could get in on the action. In the 2010 vintage, Chimere Chateauneuf was launched and was met with huge fanfare (unfortunately, not available to us), but we think tells a whole other story. How often do you ever see one world class winemaker seeking out another and doing whatever it takes to collaborate with them on a project? Not only that, but producing wine at such a high level as well? This is easily one of the most complimentary ways of saying "you are making rockstar good wine". While much of Clos Saint Jean's portfolio comes with a price well north of $100 a bottle, they do produce some remarkably well priced wines as well. Their is no cutting corners going on here either, their Old Vine CDP cuvee is always one of the top values every year, and we expect no less in the 2012 vintage as well. Always one of the highlight visits during my time spent working in the Southern Rhone, Clos Saint-Jean, which includes over 100 acres of prime terroir in Chateauneuf du Pape (mostly in the south), is run by brothers Pascal and Vincent Maurel, with consulting help from the incredibly talented Philippe Cambie. Releasing 5 Chateauneufs in top vintages, they also pair up with Manfred Krankl, of Sine Qua Non in California’s Santa Barbara County, and release another high-end cuvee call Chimere. While the winemaking here is often labeled as modern, it is actually relatively traditional, with the Grenache almost always aged in tank and only the Mourvedre and Syrah seeing time in larger, 500-600 liter oak barrels, or demi-muids. In addition, the cuvees may also include small amounts of whole-cluster fermentation. Regardless of how you classify it, the results speak for themselves and there are few wines in the world I’d rather drink." - Jeb Dunnuck - Robert Parker's the Wine Advocate [+]