TN: Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc


Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc holds the distinction of being the first dry white table wine to win me over to the dark side and it has held a special place in my heart since. I had it back when I first met Jay Hack on a visit to Toronto and have enjoyed it ever since. By all rights, given my specific history and leanings, I shouldn’t enjoy it. It’s not sweet, it’s not as aromatic as other wines, it’s not as full bodied or palate coating as Alsacian wine. Yet still, I can’t get enough of the Rhone white blends and their California counterparts as well.

In honor of that first occasion, here I am tasting the very CdP Blanc that I had during that Jay Hack dinner at Mengral Thai here in Toronto.

SUMMARY: A beautiful and complex fresh white wine that has lost absolutely nothing with four years of storage. Refreshing on its own but truly shines when paired with food. Whole is much greater than the sum of the wine’s components.

The wine is an equal 1/3 each blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussane and Clairette de Die. 13.8% ABV. In the glass, a highly translucent light straw golden color that is identical to that of a young New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. On the nose, faint aromas of freshly cut lemons are undercut by heat on the nose. Considering the low ABV, that says something about the delicacy of the wine. In the mouth, very light bodied and a complex melange of fruit flavors including fresh lemon, apple and honeydew blend seamlessly with a very creamy texture and some surprisingly spirit-like flavors that are very reminscent of Cognac. You can definitely taste a touch of oak in there and you can indeed taste the actual alcohol itself like you would with a spirit. Again, shows you how truly delicate and fine this white wine is where you can taste the fruit in full but it gives way the alcohol pleasantly. A nice seam of acidity shows on the finish that reminds me of a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a couple of seconds before receding back to the creamy texture. There’s a slight touch of flintiness but nowhere near as high as say, a Meursault.

If you think about it, this wine should be a complete mess. I can literally make and point out the fruit, cream, wood, alcohol and acid components as I did above. Instead it all comes together beautifully and is actually a very refreshing wine on its own. Maybe not an NZ Sauv Blanc level but awfully close at times. It truly is a case of the wine’s whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Where the wine really shines, however, is with food. I’ve been having this bottle with salad and a charcuterie, cheese and potato chips plate for dinner the last two days and tonight as well and the wine is utterly amazing. It really transforms itself and blends perfectly well with everything. The creaminess blends in with the cheese, the acidity blends in with the salad, the fruit in the wine balances the salinity in the meats. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED while there is still a surprising amount of nice warm weather before the snow comes in, especially with your meals. [cheers.gif]

Hi Tran, thanks for the note! Chateauneuf blanc has improved dramatically over the last years!


Interesting comments about not finding good density in these wines. As long as the blend has a good chunk of Roussanne or Marsanne, one would expect good density . . .