Clos St. Antonin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2018
Purchased by Aimé and Isabel Sabon in 2013, Clos Saint Antonin is a suitable name as the farmhouse and its surrounding vineyards are contiguous and partially enclosed – something rather rare in the Southern Rhône where diverse and scattered parcels are the norm. The one exception is a few hectares of Grenache planted on sand in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the lieux-dits of La Fond du Loup and La Crau which we added to the estate from her family’s holdings at Domaine de la Janasse. Partially destemmed (90%) and fermented by natural yeasts, this wine is aged in demi-muid and foudre from 12 months before release.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Shimmering ruby. Expressive, mineral-accented raspberry and boysenberry aromas are complemented by suggestions of licorice and pungent flowers. Seamless in texture and well-concentrated, offering sweet red berry and cherry liqueur and floral pastille flavors and building spiciness. Rich yet energetic in style, finishing with fine clarity, repeating florality and harmonious tannins that sneak in late.
Clos Saint Antonin is a 15 hectare estate located outside the town of Jonquières within the Côtes-du-Rhône Village of Plan de Dieu. A short drive away from Courthézon where Domaine de la Janasse is situated, Clos Saint Antonin was purchased by the Sabon family in 2014. Small, compact and contiguous estates rarely come on the market in the Rhône, let along ones planted on the classic red clays, galets and sand typical of Plan de Dieu. While it is quite common to see the famed estates of Châteauneuf-du-Pape looking over the Rhône river towards Lirac to expand their holdings, more and more are looking north to Plan de Dieu since this terroir is quite similar to what they find in their backyard. While the whole family is involved with its farming and winemaking, Isabelle Sabon is heading up this new project – one supplemented by some of her family’s vineyards in Le Crau for the Clos Saint Antonin Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.
According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.
Only about 6-7% of wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape is white wine. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.
The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.