Saint Jean du Barroux – new and old!

Phlippe Gimel is a new kind of winemaker. The kind that do not hesitate to go to a remote village in the south of Sweden to spread the gospel and talk about his passion and entusiasm for his wines.

This is a far cry from how it used to be in France. In some parts it is still hard to get producers to talk about what they are doing or at least to get a straight answer about their winemaking practices. And it is even harder to get them to spell it out on consumerfriendly back labels. But that attitude is changing and new generations come to the business with a whole new take on how to interact with their consumers (think not only “winemakers dinners” but also the web, social media and tools like facebook and twitter).

What the change comes down to is of course a genuine passion and an interest in what the they – the new breed – are doing and also sharing and communicationg that passion with the consumer. And it was that kind of passion that took Philippe to Klippan and Bjärhus Gårdsbutik – a good forsaken place in the middle of nowhere and with a population of just 7000 people – a couple of weeks ago.

This was the second time around in Klippan for Philippe and I and the other visitors got a chance to sample the latest wines from his estate Saint Jean du Barroux.

Saint Jean du Barroux is situated 300-400 meters up on the slopes of Mount Ventoux in AC Ventoux with Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes-de-Venice just a stones throw away. Philippe got 14,5 hectars (a total of 16.5 ha) under vine and farm the vineyards organically.

I’ve written quite a lot about SJB in my swedish blog Uppkorkat – and if you understand swedish you can read some of it here:

En kultvinmakare i Klippan

SJB – En hyllning till blandningen

SJBs två nykomlingar

2003 was the first vintage for Philippe. New this year was a rosé and an experimental Micro Climate. We also got to taste new vintages of La Source and L’Argile – and rediscover the awesome La Pierre Noire 2006!

SJB La Montagne 2008
This is the second vintage of SJBs white wine that I taste. It is a blend of grenache blanc, bourboulenc and clairette and is of course hand picked (like all grapes on SJB) with a yield of just 25 hl/ha. Three quarters was vinified in tanks and the remaining part in oak. Last vintage (2007) of this wine was a broad, spicy and fruity wine with tropical fruit flavours. This vintage feels fresher and more acidic.

Yellow colour. Smells of citrusflowers, lime, mint, grape and minerals. Fresh concentrated taste of flowers, lime, bees wax, honey and herbs. Hints of grape, minerals and with a long finish. Drink now or within five years.

SJB La Rosé 2010
Philippe has tried to make a rosé for the past few years – but the maturity of the grapes in combination with the cool autumn and winter climate on the slopes of Mount Ventoux has meant trouble! He just could not get the juice to finish fermentation in time for early enough bottling for the summer season. But this year he did it. 1400 liters of grenache and just 60 liters of cinsault has gone into the cuvée – and that means just 1388 bottles. The wine got an almost incredible ph for a rosé – ph 3.05 – which is more like a german riesling than a southern rosé. And you feel it on the palate. Normally a rosé is done for early and immediate consumption – but this wine could probably be aged for another 3-10 years!

Pale pink colour and a fresh ligthly perfumed nose filled with citrus, lime, red berries (strawberries), dried fruits and fudge. The taste is very fresh and with great acidity and with a concentrated chalky mineral quality on the palate. I find notes of strawberries, citrus and fudge and the aftertaste is long, clean and refreshing.

SJB La Source 2008
This wine used to be called No 4 or “the danish cuvée” – now it takes its name from on a spring well on the premises. La Source is Philippes “entry level” wine – and in this case that means a wine for more early consumption (3-5 years after vintage – but it will probably last longer than that).
La Source is a mix of grenache, carignan, and cinsault. Average yield is around 30 hl/ha. All stems were removed prior to a 7 days maceration period. After fermentation the wine spent 2,5 years on tanks and the wine it was bottled on february 18th 2011.

Red colour. A bit closed on the nose with dark berries, fudge, herbs and farmyard notes. Medium bodied and conentrated taste of dark berries, chocolate, herbs and tobacco. Quite firm tannins that are well integrated in sweet luscious fruit and a long finish. It definetely feels more “ready” and a bit more fruitdriven than the 2006 I tasted a year ago!

SJB l’Argile 2006
If you ask me – this is the quintessential SJB-wine. A great vin de garde with great depth and concentration that is still quite affordable! It used to be called Oligocène but has (as has all SJB cuvées) recently changed it name to l’Argile – a name derived from the water retaining claybased soil in which the vines grow.
The cuvée consists of grenache, syrah, carignan and cinsault that were destemmed to 75 procent and the juice was left on the skins for 12 days. Average yield is down to 20 hl/ha for l’Argile and fermentation and ageing has been done in concrete or enameled tanks. I’ve tasted the 2004 and 2005 vintages earlier – and 2006 is at least as good as those two!

Dark red colour. Spicy and developed nose with dark berries, herbs/garrigues, fudge, minerals, tobacco and chocolate. A bit “hot and dusty” (a tell tale sign of grenache!). Medium to full bodied with a tannic, concentrated taste of dark berries, dried fruits, herbs de provence and chocolate. Rather tough tannins but yet again enveloped by sweet fruit flavours. Superb length and an intriguing aftertaste of spices and black pepper! Age for 3-15 years!

SJB Micro Climat 2009
This wine is made of in principal 100 percent grenache from a parcel of wine that showed exceptional maturity in 2009. The grapes were harvested mid october and even though they had what Philippe calls “crazy maturity” (larger berries with more sugar) – they were not as concentrated as those use for the prestigecuvée La Pierre Noire. The grapes from this parcel were vinified seperately and when some friends of Philippe told him that they thought that he should bottle it as a special cuvée – he thought “why not?”. “I think that this i crazy – but everyone seems to love the wine”, says Phlippe. And it is an extreme wine with 16-17 percent alcohol.

Red colour. Hints of maceration carbonique? but also red berries, raisins, figs and dates. And definitely those “hot and dusty” tell tale signs of grenache. The palate is full bodied and almost sweet with a concentrated taste of red berries, herbs, black pepper, leather and dried fruits. The finish is long and with just a hint of alcoholic burn. Interesting and drinkable! Drink now!

SJB La Pierre Noire 2006
SJB no 5 has become La Pierre Noire – and it is a wine that wine critics all over the world are beginning to hail (the wine has received 94 points from Robert Parker). 85 percent grenache and 15 percent syrah were harvested on the 8th of september and with a yield of 15hl/ha. Only 25 percent of the grapes were destemmed and the wine got 18 days of skinmaceration. This is Philippes prestige cuvée and it is a wine that can easilu be cellared for 10-20 years. “My grenache is darker an more tannic than my syrah”, says Philippe – and La Pierre Noire is an excellent example of just how god grenache can be!

Dark red colour. Big and complex smell of dark berries, herbs de provence, fudge, chocolate, tobacco and leather. Full-bodied superconcentrated taste of dark berries, herbs de provence, tobacco, chocolate and leather. Quiet firm but well integrated acids/tannins that is carried by lucious fruit and a well balanced minerality. Long complex aftertaste!

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