Le Clos Saint Jean and the mysteries of Cuvée Deus Ex-Machina

by Lou Heriche
Clos Saint Jean Cuvée Deus Ex Machina

What does “deus ex machina” mean?

Used in theater, this expression signifies the intervention of a god, a supernatural being brought down to the stage by means of a machine. By extension, it refers to an unexpected character or event that brings a dramatic situation to a close.

©️Sobre Roteiros e Roteiristas

What is the history of Clos Saint Jean?

Clos Saint Jean is located in the commune of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the heart of the Rhone Valley’s southern vineyards. The estate dates back to 1900 and was founded by Edmond Tacussel. At the time, this visionary winemaker was considered eccentric by his peers. He relied on a terroir rich in the largest pebbles in the region, which acted as a thermal regulator, transferring the heat stored during the day to the grapes at night.

2001 marked a turning point in the history of the domaine. Following the death of their father, Pascal and Vincent Maurel took over the reins and breathed new life into the estate, assisted by oenologist Philippe Cambie (who would a few years later be voted best oenologist in the world by Robert Parker in 2010). The key words of this change are: respect for the soil, no use of insecticides and only manual harvesting.

In addition, the estate’s uniqueness lies in its exceptionally large pebbles, the largest in the appellation. Thanks to them, Clos Saint Jean benefits from natural thermal regulation, as the pebbles transfer the heat accumulated during the day to the nights.

©️Clos Saint Jean

What makes Deus Ex-Machina so special?

This cuvée is made from Grenache (60%) and Mourvèdre (40%) grapes. The Grenache vines are over one hundred years old, having been planted in 1905. The grape varieties are aged in two different ways: Grenache is aged in concrete vats, while Mourvèdre is aged in new barrels.

Yields are low (around 20 HL/HA). The wine is very structured, deep and dense. Flesh and aromas are also very present.

These are very expressive, gourmand and fruity wines, a fine demonstration of the modernism that is developing at Châteauneuf.

Label Clos Saint Jean Deus Ex Machina

What are the best vintages of Deus Ex-Machina?

The best vintages of this cuvée are 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012. The 2005, 2007 and 2010 vintages were rated 100/100 by Robert Parker.

Our favorites from the SoDivin team

Clos Saint Jean Deus Ex Machina 2017

Clos Saint Jean Deus Ex Machina 2017

Rated 98/100 by Robert Parker – Wine Advocate

With its more subdued oak and layers of complexity, the 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Deus Ex Machina is my favorite release here this year. Layers of dried spice accent raspberries and cherries in this full-bodied, rich and velvety wine. It’s more complex and complete than Combe des Fous or Sancto Santorum, longer on the finish and supremely elegant.

Tasted in August 2019

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