Clos du Mont-Olivet, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvée Unique"
Clos du Mont-Olivet, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvée Unique"

Clos du Mont-Olivet, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvée Unique"

Southern Rhône, France 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$56.00

Clos du Mont-Olivet, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvée Unique"

Legacy subscribers to our Daily Discovery will be very familiar with today’s feature, because for years we’ve sung the praises of Clos du Mont-Olivet. This iconic address is the destination for lovers of meaty, elegant, old school, Southern Rhône masterpieces that offer incredible value to boot. Run by generations of the Sabon family since 1932, and headquartered in a stone house that overlooks the ancient papal castle that gave the town its name, Mont-Olivet is the equivalent of a Châteauneuf winemaking museum. And because of our special relationship with their California importer, we have access to the eponymous “Cuvée Unique,” a special bottling that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. They just released their latest vintage, 2021, and it is a stunning monument to the classic Châteauneuf balance of spice, power, and elegance. It’s delicious now, and will be even better in five to 10 years, so stock up!

Bonus: we also have very, very limited amounts of special library releases direct from the estate. Featuring the excellent vintages 2007, 2011, and 2012, all of these beauties are singing right now.

Thierry Sabon is the latest generation to head up this iconic estate, but he has preserved the methodologies than have served the family well over the years: Grapes are only partially de-stemmed before fermentation in cement tanks on native yeasts; this “partial whole cluster” fermentation helps to tamp down some of the richness and sweetness typical of southern Rhône reds, lending them a spicy backbone. Aging takes place exclusively in old, large-capacity foudre barrels, and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. While Grenache is the driving force in their Cuvée Unique (comprising 80% of today’s wine), there is a supporting cast of 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, a slightly different blend, and also a different aging process, from the standard release you see elsewhere in the country.

The use of 50% whole clusters, combined with the 30- to 40-year-old vines and deft touch of Thierry in the cellar, helps avoid the candied, cloying fruit and texture that many other Châteauneufs fall victim to. The Mont-Olivet wines always have lots of concentration but not so much that they feel overblown, sweet, or “hot”—there’s always plenty of freshness providing an all-important backbone and ballast. This is doubly true for the 2021 vintage, which saw a return to classic balance that the previous hot, dry vintages often lacked. In the glass, it’s a deep, vibrant ruby-violet hue, moving to magenta at the rim, with powerful aromas of black and red fruits, violets, licorice, leather, wild herbs, and baking spices. It is full-bodied but focused, the fruit nicely framed by acidity and fine, firm tannins—beefy and muscular rather than soft and sweet. Decant it about 30 minutes before enjoying in Burgundy stems at 60 degrees, preferably with hearty, Southern French stews and roasts. Another way to go is Texas-style BBQ—a surprisingly spot-on pairing! As I write this, fall weather is in full swing around most of the country, and the occasions for a bold, memorable red like this are increasing in number. Stock up!

Clos du Mont-Olivet, Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Cuvée Unique"

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