Notes from a tasting of St. Joseph Wines

If you go back to older books on Rhones, you’ll see references to medium bodied wines with Burgundian hints, and unexceptional whites. That has changed since the 90s, as this tasting underlined.

2018 Domaine Saint André de Figuière Côtes de Provence Atmosphère Extra Brut Methode Traditionelle – the starter wine was not in theme but from Provence and was a sparkling Cinsault/Grenache blend. It was yellow with pink hints, cherry in the nose but grapefruit on palate. Perfect way to start a tasting.

2016 Jean-Claude Marsanne SJ blanc – hints of oak in the nose along with stone fruit and a nice floral element, clean finish.

2017 Coursodon SJ blanc Le Paradis Saint Pierre – a very slightly burnt lemon and butter nose (made me think of popcorn) balanced and with good length.

2011 Tardieu Laurent Hermitage blanc – one participant lacked a white SJ but offered a white Hermitage, How could I turn that down? 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne, this had a darker colour, notably more oak in the nose along with a delicate pear component, a slightly oily mouth feel, and very good length.

We then switched to the reds, and I was up first. I was a bit unsure about the wine I presented as it was from the last century, and I hadn’t tasted it for seven years.

1997 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave St. Joseph – still fairly dark, and right off the bat it showed an absolutely killer nose of mature syrah with a garrigue element and some raspberry, and with time some tapenade. Excellent wine in great shape and sadly, my last bottle. Nice that it went out in style.

2006 Saint Cosme SJ – dark wine with dark fruit nose and more oak than many. Nice cassis notes and smooth long finish. Nice wine.

2010 Pierre Gonon SJ – we were fortunate to have a two bottle vertical of this wine. It was a dark wine showing a primarily herbal nose with some iron/blood, good fruit and length. Drinking really well now.

2011 Pierre Gonon SJ – a very different presentation – pepper, spice and green herbal notes in the nose, similar weight and length as the 2010 but more evolved and ready.

2011 Domaine Faury SJ Vieilles Vignes – another blood/iron nose, a bit riper and more rustic than the Gonon. Still young and very decent but not up to the level of the Gonon.

We finished with a cheese wine that was ...interesting!

2015 Domaine des Miquettes SJ Madloba[/b] – bizarre label worthy of Randall Grahm at his best, and a very, very dark wine with a ripe sweet nose of black fruit and considerable tannin and terminal acidity and concentrated fruit on palate. Made in amphorae, this is a Rhone from Spinal Tap – ‘turned up to 11’ Had we tasted it blind, I am not sure that we would have gone straight to the Rhone. I picked up some pastrami notes in the nose after awhile. Having said all that, and despite the obvious youth, it was very drinkable now.

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