- Rating: 93 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $0
- Accepts Reservations: No
- Reservation Required: false
I’ve enjoyed several bottles of Clos du Mont Olivet in the past, so the trip to Châteauneuf wouldn’t have been complete without stopping by. And without Google Maps, I never would have because this place is hard to find… I don’t recall there being a clear sign outside directing visitors, but the door was branded in the same style as their wine labels, so I knew it was the right place when I knocked on the door. Do not expect much in the way of aesthetics, but be prepared to taste solid wines that are steals at their price points. And with a production of 50,000+ bottles a year, you should be able to find their wine back in the USA too. So enjoy the irony between their office and quality/production while sipping on some serious wine.
If you drink Châteauneuf in the states and read publications like Jeb Dunnuck and his Rhone Report, you’ve likely heard of Clos du Mont Olivet before. It isn’t in the same production category as Famille Perrin, but the quality and scores are right there. I had one of their non-appellation wines at lunch in town on an earlier day which excited me even more (I remember it being surprisingly good for the price). Similar to Pegau and other places in town, I was lucky that the advertising and storefront were subpar. As you can see in the picture below, the room wouldn’t be able to accomodate more than one or two groups of visitors at a time and I wouldn’t have wanted to wait long for a tasting.
In my normal fashion, I introduced myself and gave glimpse of my background, especially why I was excited to be visiting with them. They were going to start me directly on the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but I asked to see their more affordable wines as well. And it was a good thing I did. The first two wines were quite surprising in quality for the prices. I know I espoused the QPR of Domaine Durieu in an earlier post, but Clos du Mont Olivet may just be the steal of my Châteauneuf-du-Pape trip. The style of the tasting was also very different - while the tasting at Domaine Durieu had 60s American rock music and energy, Clos du Mont Olivet played soothing string music and sounds, not unlike the music played during a massage. As I was tasting by myself again, the music contributed to a relaxing experience that was interesting to reflect on. Did the music make the wine more enjoyable? Quite possibly. If I run a winery one day, that might not be a bad idea for a private tasting room.
Like other great wineries, quality and care go into even their cheapest wines. All of their non-appellation wines are grown and produced using similar methods as their highest rated wines. For example, all of their vineyards are hand picked, pruned to low yields, sorted, etc. One thing to note is that their white wine isn’t distributed yet to the USA as there is a name conflict with an American winery. Once they change the name and I find out what it is, I will be sure to post it. For now, it is referenced as “Vin de France Blanc” below.
- 2017 Vin de France Blanc (9.50€)
- Ugni Blanc and Grenache Blanc from Lirac are blended together with second pressed juice from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc (Roussane, Bourboulanc and Clairette). Very ripe and floral on the nose with notes of perfumed starfruit, ripe apricot, melon, and some MLF (butter/cream). The wine has medium(+) acidity that balances the ripe fruit flavors, keeps the wine very fresh, light, and gives it a clean finish. Though, that doesn’t impede the pronounced intensity on the palate one bit. For the price point, this is an excellent wine, though I can see how it might be hard to drink more than two glasses in a sitting. This wine will also be a bigger hit with California lovers than traditional French lovers.
- 2015 A Seraphin (11.50€)
- Made from fruit grown 30 kilometers north of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Even though it doesn’t come from the AOC, that doesn’t mean the fruit quality poor in comparison. A blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% old vine Carignan (45-60 years old). Pronounced, ripe red fruit on the nose with a little bit of perfume and underlying spice. The palate is not quite integrated yet - the light red fruit, spice and wood/earth character are all distinct. The tannins are a bit rough at this stage of its life as well, so give it 2-3 years to integrate and soften. I’m curious as to how the flavor profile will evolve during this time.
- 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (25.50€)
- A blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 6% Mouvedre, and other varietals comprising the last 4%. Served from a 375ml bottle as smaller bottles age faster and offer a look as to how the wines will develop. Make no mistake, this cuvee is meant for aging and any attempts to enjoy it now will be like measuring the tip of an iceberg… This wine is the face of their estate; 50,000 bottles are produced each year. The red fruit is riper than their other wines with a slight candied quality. The wine also displays undulating tertiary and spice notes in lower intensity. The palate has medium(+) acid, high tannin, medium body, with flavors similar to the nose except the red fruit has a reduced intensity while the wood/earth come out more. This wine is already pretty good but give this 4-5 years to start showing its true colors.
- 2016 La Cuvee du Papet (45.50€)
- Only produced in the best vintages, this wine comes mostly from GSM vines that are all near ancient (80-100 years old). The jamminess is accentuated on the nose of this wine and the complexity is higher than the Châteauneuf blend with better integration of flavors as well. Medium(+) acid, high tannin, medium body, with flavors similar to the nose (the fruit is still jammy), but there is a spiciness that tickles the tongue at the end. The tannins are smooth already and you could easily enjoy this now if you wanted to, though it will only get better. I am confident that the fruit will hold strong in this wine through 10-15 years of aging. I personally wouldn’t be able to hold onto the wine that long though, haha.
You never know where you will find great wines. Luckily for me, I happened to know the quality and potential without having to rely on their branding or presence in town. I highly recommend that you stop here for a tasting, if only to walk away with 10-25€ wines that you could happily enjoy over lunch or dinner. If you want to find the Châteauneuf after tasting it for yourself, you shouldn’t have problems searching online, though as with all wines, there will be a markup from the shipping/distribution lifecycle. So get out there and enjoy some great QPR wines. Cheers!!
Rating: 93 out of 100