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Clos Joliette: the absolute myth of the Southwest

Clos Joliette: the absolute myth of the Southwest

This is not a wine that we have the honor to offer you today, but a true legend: the ultra-confidential and revered Clos Joliette, the absolute myth of the whites of the South West. The one Jean-Claude Berrouet, famous oenologist of Petrus, described as "quintessence of an exceptional terroir". The one Bertrand de Lur Saluces saw in his time as the only wine (in its mellow version) "at the height of his Château d'Yquem"! The one that Mathieu Cosse, talented winemaker and exceptional taster, does not hesitate to compare to the overripe rieslings of the great Egon Müller. Or that Pierre Citerne, well known to the readers of the Revue du Vin de France, describes as “the greatest wine in the South West”… We will stop the praise there but you will understand: those who have had the chance to 'to taste it at least once, anonymous amateurs or big “sizes” of the wine, keep an emotional and indelible memory of it.

 

At the origin of the myth, there is however only one “pocket” vineyard: barely 1.8 hectares occupying the slopes of a small natural amphitheater, nestled at the foot of the Pyrenees. We are in Jurançon, at a place called Chapelle de Rousse, about 300 meters above sea level. It’s here that the story began, in 1929, when the vines of Petit Manseng were planted in francs. A magical moment when the flagship grape variety of the Pyrenean vineyard finds its promised land, its dream environment. The soils of pebbled pudding, once rolled by glaciers then torrents, filter rainwater, drain the feet and restore the plant to daytime heat. Here, silica, limestone, clay mix, while a rare ferrous vein crosses the basement. This incredible geo-pedological complexity contributes of course to the absolutely unique identity of Clos Joliette. But that's not all: the stream flowing at the bottom of the hill brings saving humidity, the perfect orientation to the South and Southeast guarantees sunshine and ideal temperatures, Balaguère, this warm wind from Africa, s' regularly rushes into the valley, stimulating the maturity of the bays (this is the famous effect of Foehn), while opposite, the wooded hill protects the vine from the strongest bad weather from the North…

 

The first to know how to make the most of this true little manseng paradise was Jeanne Migné, a great figure in the French vineyard, who, in the discretion of a humid cellar with clay soil and pebble walls covered with mycelium, designed, or rather accompanied, this wine of eternity. Because here, it is not the genius of man who must express himself, but that of Mother Nature. So, year after year, decade after decade, the successive winegrowers at Clos Joliette have never stopped perpetuating the same gestures, often the simplest, far from any technology or other oenological innovation. Work the soil regularly, prune and trellise high, and above all take the time to let it ripen until the natural passerillage of the berries is standing, then patiently harvest, grain by grain, until the first frost of winter. Delicately press this microscopic harvest (here, the yields have never exceeded 10 hectoliters per hectare!) In the boxwood fluted press, then intone this divine juice in old oak barrels (most of which come from Château d'Yquem )… Let the fermentation take place, without ever intervening, even if it takes 8 or 10 months. And afterwards, observe and listen to the wine aging, quietly, in these barrels, for several years ... The same simple gestures, in the vineyard as in the cellar, repeated endlessly. This is also the secret of Joliette.

 

A unique tradition perpetuated after the disappearance of Ms. Migné by Michel Renaud, a Parisian wine merchant who acquired this little corner of paradise in 1989 after falling in love with it. A story that ended in 2015, when he died. It was then that the Renaud family, aware of the treasure they had just inherited, approached a group of elite winemakers, at the height of legend, and in love with wines from the Southwest, in the front row which of course features Joliette's neighbor, Jean-Marc Grussaute, from Camin Larredya. At the same time as Jean-Marc and his friends from the A Bisto de Nas group were entrusted with the work of the vines and the care of vinifying the 2016 and 2017 vintages of Joliette, they also had the opportunity to acquire old vintages of the precious nectar. The choice of this high-flying areopagus (Mathieu Cosse, Bernard Plageoles, Jean-Mary Le Bihan among others, for A Bisto de Nas, but also other winemakers friends like Elian Da Ros or Michel Riouspeyrous, ... sorry!) focused on the years 2010, 2012 and 2013. Among the incredible collection offered by the Renaud family, these three vintages seemed to them the most worthy of embodying the myth!

 

All in their quest for excellence, our winegrowers have decided, after almost 8 years of aging, to bottle two half-muids of the famous nectar on the superb 2010 vintage, or only 820 bottles! An immense wine, with a semi-dry profile, which will soon become absolutely untraceable, as the Clos Joliette is the subject of a real cult on the part of experienced amateurs and other collectors! An opportunity maybe that won't come twice ...

 

 

This article has been translated in English and you can found the original French version here: https://www.laroutedesblancs.com/181-clos-joliette-

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