2007 Chateauneuf du Pape la Combe des Fous Clos Saint-Jean

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Average critic rating : 100.0 points



The following three wines are as great as money can buy, and all three represent extraordinary achievements. The 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape La Combe des Fous (meaning “Valley of the Fools”), which comes from a specific vineyard known as Les Combes, was cropped at extremely low yields of 20-25 hectoliters per hectare. Atypically for a Chateauneuf du Pape, it contains a high percentage of Vaccarese (10%), along with 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault. The Grenache was aged in tank, and the other varietals spent time in old small barrels or demi-muids. Explosive aromatics include spring flowers, boysenberries, blueberries, black raspberries, graphite, and charcoal. A powerful wine with great depth, full body, and an endless finish, it is exquisitely pure with not a rough edge to be found. It is the equivalent of liquid haute couture. The Musigny of the southern Rhone, it possesses extraordinary aromatics followed by a wine with the texture, length, and multilayered mouthfeel that are the stuff of dreams. Looking back at my tasting notes, the first thing I wrote was “whoa!” Deep plum/purple to the rim, this wine should evolve for 20-25 years, but it is already remarkably accessible. The vintage’s freshness as evidenced by the lack of any excessive heat and cool nights has given an aromatic singularity to the 2007s that is largely unprecedented in my tasting experience. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate # 185 Oct 2009



On another level, the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is a monumental bottle of wine that-s hardly budged since I first tasted it on release. Giving up heavenly aromas and flavors of black raspberries, cassis, incense, cured meats and exotic spices, this incredible effort flows onto the palate with a layered, impeccably balanced profile that carries massive concentration, polished tannin and a crazy length. Despite searching for something to be critical of, I came up empty. ||Since taking control of the estate in 2002, and bringing on board rock star consultant Philippe Cambie, the Maurel brothers has been knocking it out of the park in literally every vintage. 2004? Gorgeous wines and easily at the top in a recent retrospective. The cooler, rainy 2008? Beautiful ripeness and texture, and again, at the top of the hierarchy. 2011 is the same story, and it’s amazing what this team has accomplished in all of their vintages. Looking at this retrospective, we went through all of their cuvees going back to 2003. Unfortunately, there’s no new information here, and this tasting simply confirmed what myself and Robert Parker have been saying for some time now; Clos Saint Jean is at the top of their game and producing some of the most singular, hedonistic and brilliant wines in the world.||Starting out with the classic Chateauneuf du Pape, it’s normally a blend of 75% Grenache, with the balance a mix of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Muscardin and Vaccarese. As is common at this estate, the Grenache is aged all in tank, and the other varieties in a mix of tank and barrels. While I think this cuvee always lags the Vieilles Vignes bottling, it is consistently outstanding and always a super value.||Moving to the old vine cuvee, this is made especially for the US Market and is 85% tank aged, old vine Grenache, and the balance Syrah and Mourvedre. It too almost always represents a crazy value and has a broad drink window. I’m currently finishing up a case of the ’08, and purchased two cases of the 2010, which is just starting to open back up after closing down shortly after release.||As to the Combe des Fous release, this cuvée comes from a single plot of vines and is based largely on Grenache, with roughly 20% Syrah and 10% each of Vaccarese and Cinsault in the blend. The Grenache is aged all in tank and the other components see time in mostly demi-muids. While the Deux ex Machina always impresses more with its overt power and muscle, this cuvee always seems more polished, fine and elegant to me.||One of the greatest cuvees on earth, the Maurel brother’s Sanctus Sanctorum is 100% Grenache that comes from a single plot of vines in the La Crau lieu dit. Aged all in demi-muid, it’s been one of the greatest wines I’ve ever tasted, every time I’ve tasted it. All three of these were sheer perfection on this occasion, yet each has its own unique profile. ||Lastly, and always the most powerful of the cuvees, the Deus Ex Machina is a blend of 60% tank aged Grenache and 40% demi-muid aged Mourvedre that all comes from 70-100 year old vines. The Mourvedre component is really what defines this cuvee, and it possesses the most obvious structure and mid-palate richness in the lineup. Seeming to hit maturity around age 10 or so, it can be consumed relatively early in its life due to its wealth of fruit, texture, and incredibly polished tannin. In addition, don’t miss this cuvee in the lighter vintages, as even their 2004 and 2008 show classic character and no shortage of richness. eRobertParker.com.August, 2014


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