Clos Saint-Jean Deus Ex Machina Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
With its more discreet oak and layers of complexity, the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Deus Ex Machina is my favorite release here this year. Layers of dried spices accent raspberries and cherries in this full-bodied, rich and velvety wine. It's more complex and complete than either the Combe des Fous or the Sancto Santorum, longer on the finish and supremely elegant.
The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Deus-Ex Machina (60/40 Grenache and Mourvèdre) shows more classic Mourvèdre notes, with blackcurrants, Asian spices, crushed violets, cured meats, and graphite all giving way to a power packed, opulent, hedonistic 2017 that does everything right. Incredible depth of fruit, building tannins, no hard edges, and a finish to die for are all part of the package.
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, Chateauneuf-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 Chateauneuf-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 Chateauneuf-du-Pape is white. 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.