2020 Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape 'Cuvee Vieilles Vignes'


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The 2020 vintage produced some outsized and delicious wines in the Southern Rhone- outsized in every good way!  In other words, what they may lack in finesse and refinement, they make up for in sheer chutzpah and succulence!  And, in Chateauneuf du Pape where bigger is often better, that’s definitely the case in this extraordinary harvest!  Up on the Le Crau plateau, where the bold. Long-lived wines the likes of Domaine du Vieux Telegraph hold sway, this was particularly the case.  Take neighbor Clos Saint Jean, for instance.  This is a great producer, no matter what kind of vintage there is, but in 2020 their entire lineup is simply off the chain!  We particularly loved their Vieilles Vignes cuvee, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and Muscardin, made from old vines located in and around Le Crau. The Grenache- the luscious, plummy driver of the blend- was aged in concrete for 12 months while the remainder, mostly Syrah, is aged in wood.  Tipping the scales at nearly 16% ABV, it’s a zaftig wine that explodes from the glass with all sorts of exotic aromas of Hoisin, white pepper, black raspberry, chocolate-mint, Christmas cake and more. Plush and silky on the palate, it’s soooooo delicious! But here’s the thing:  For a wine this large in scale, the finish brings the whole wine back to earth with great natural acidity, a ton of mineral and a lovely floral fillip.  Impressive in every way, this is downright fun to drink and, if Chateauneuf is your preferred tipple at Thanksgiving, here’s one we can heartily recommend!  

#12 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2023:  Leads with warm ganache and fig bread notes, followed quickly by raspberry reduction accents that take some time to unwind. Showcases plum pâte de fruit, sanguine and black licorice notes, with a flicker of Turkish coffee underscoring the finish and giving this a decidedly dark profile in the end. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and Muscardin. 95 points

Jeb Dunnuck: As usual, the 2020 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes brings more richness and depth without losing any sense of elegance or balance. Blackberries, ground herbs, chalky minerality and loamy earth flow to a ripe, medium to full-bodied, seamless, incredibly elegant 2020 with tons of character. It will evolve for 10-15 years as well. 93 points