Robert Parker (99): "A wine that blew me away, and the best bottle of this I've tasted, the 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous gave up exotic and intense aromas and flavors of ground pepper, kirsch liqueur, incense, white chocolate and crushed flowers. About as seamless and sexy as they come, this extraordinary Chateauneuf boasts incredible concentration, no hard edges and insane length on the finish. Much more forward and open than the 2010, drink it over the coming 10 to 15 years. Since taking control of the estate in 2002, and bringing on board rock star consultant Philippe Cambie, the Maurel brothers has been knocking it out of the park in literally every vintage. 2004? Gorgeous wines and easily at the top in a recent retrospective. The cooler, rainy 2008? Beautiful ripeness and texture, and again, at the top of the hierarchy. 2011 is the same story, and it’s amazing what this team has accomplished in all of their vintages. Looking at this retrospective, we went through all of their cuvees going back to 2003. Unfortunately, there’s no new information here, and this tasting simply confirmed what myself and Robert Parker have been saying for some time now; Clos Saint Jean is at the top of their game and producing some of the most singular, hedonistic and brilliant wines in the world. Starting out with the classic Chateauneuf du Pape, it’s normally a blend of 75% Grenache, with the balance a mix of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Muscardin and Vaccarese. As is common at this estate, the Grenache is aged all in tank, and the other varieties in a mix of tank and barrels. While I think this cuvee always lags the Vieilles Vignes bottling, it is consistently outstanding and always a super value. Moving to the old vine cuvee, this is made especially for the US Market and is 85% tank aged, old vine Grenache, and the balance Syrah and Mourvedre. It too almost always represents a crazy value and has a broad drink window. I’m currently finishing up a case of the ’08, and purchased two cases of the 2010, which is just starting to open back up after closing down shortly after release. As to the Combe des Fous release, this cuvée comes from a single plot of vines and is based largely on Grenache, with roughly 20% Syrah and 10% each of Vaccarese and Cinsault in the blend. The Grenache is aged all in tank and the other components see time in mostly demi-muids. While the Deux ex Machina always impresses more with its overt power and muscle, this cuvee always seems more polished, fine and elegant to me."
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