Even for the most seasoned collectors of ‘unicorn’ bottles, the wines of Clos Joliette remain elusive – seldom written about and almost impossible to find.
The story begins in 1929, when Maurice Migné cleared a forest to plant 1ha of Petit Manseng on a prime, southeast-facing site in Jurançon’s Chappelle de Rousse. Quietly building a reputation as the region’s preeminent producer, Clos Joliette had attained cult status by the 1980s.
After Migné passed away, Michel Renaud took ownership after outbidding a string of interested parties, including Gérard Depardieu. Renaud planted another 0.5ha, maintaining Migne’s old fashioned approach to winemaking and hoarding almost every bottle from the tiny annual output in the domaine’s cellar. (Legend has it that Didier Dagueneau stole cuttings from Clos Joliette to propagate for his own Jurançon estate, Jardins de Babylone, around this time.)
Renaud died in 2015 and, amid rumours around who would take over, his daughter installed Lionel Osmin to farm the vineyard, make the wines and distribute Clos Joliette’s extensive library of vintages.
Growing up locally, Lionel had tasted numerous vintages of Clos Joliette with his father: “Many of them were fantastic, but I believe that great wines were made here in spite, not because, of the previous owners.” Barrels were left to ferment at their own pace and, after five years, bottled separately – some had fermented fully and were completely dry; others were lusciously sweet or somewhere in between.
Lionel assembled an experienced tasting team to rank the bottles in the cellar for quality, the best of which were divided into three sweetness categories and sealed under different coloured wax: under 10g/l of residual sugar (green); between 10-30g/l (yellow); over 30g/l (orange). Thrilling and eclectic – a combination of peerless terroir and the inherent quality of Petit Manseng – they veer from razor-sharp, Sercial-like dry wines loaded with dried apricots and roasted nuts, to lusciously exotic stickies that balance ripe mango with searing acidity.
Shrine to the Vine has secured half-a-dozen limited edition cases comprising six different vintages direct from the cellars of Clos Joliette. This collector’s dream provides a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most mythical domaines and perhaps the only opportunity to taste its impossibly rare mature bottles.
Clos Joliette Limited Edition Case (£1,150) Sold out
Clos Joliette Jurançon 1994 [green wax]
Sercial-like, deep and layered with quince paste, lemon oil, herbs, grilled nuts, and a touch of flor. Almost weightless, with racy acidity and filigree precision.
Clos Joliette Jurançon 1996 [yellow wax]
An opulent character of ripe fig, Seville orange, wild honey, and baking spices. Generous and waxy in texture, but with tension through to the long, off-dry finish.
Clos Joliette Jurançon 1999 [green wax]
Dense and heady, its mango and orange fruit has taken on an inviting savoury, herbal dimension. Complex, dry, and pithy.
Clos Joliette Jurançon 2000 [yellow wax]
Vivid tropical fruit combines with sweet ginger, marmalade, barley, and salted walnuts. Its concentrated palate is lifted by a touch of pétillance and tangy acid line.
Clos Joliette Jurançon 2002 [yellow wax]
Complex and spicy, showing notes of baked mandarin and dried apricot on buttered toast. Soft and supple, but never losing its pin-point freshness.
Clos Joliette Jurançon 2007 [yellow wax]
Like a weighty Auslese Riesling – tangy lemon, exotic fruit, sherbety acid, and reductive minerality. Long, with huge ageing potential.
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