Clos Saint Joseph, Blanc de Blancs, 2014, Villars-sur-Var, white wine from France

6 points

Another really special wine from Roch Zassi of vinery Clos Saint Joseph is a classical Blanc de Blancs. Please find more about the winery at

This white blend has a very rare taste – it is pretty ambitious, considering its amazing array of flavors and aromas. It reminds one a bit of a Sancerre, with its slightly salty ground. In contrast to this, the wine is more acidic than any Chardonnay or comparable French blend. Aside from the saltiness, the wine is fresh and carries a very enjoyable minerality. There are all flavors of summer grass as chrysanthemum, chamomile and even dandelion. Elderberry, gooseberry and kiwi – a very exciting mixture: almost exotic but still grounded due to the stony tone of the soil. You would think this wine would need some time in the barrel, but this one didn’t mature in barrique – it’s only steel.

The climate of Villars-sur-Var is probably comparable with Wallis. Winter is really cold although it is only 50 km into north of Nice. Because it is an alpine valley all vineyards experience real frost during winter. Since it isn’t very high – the altitude is still below 300 m, as it is Provence – summers are warm and long. Roch Zassi’s vineyards are an exciting chaos. When I asked him how many sorts of grapes he uses, he couldn’t tell me an exact number, but he’s certain that he has nine sorts as well as five without names. And this is not because it’s a secret, but he actually just sent some vines to a lab to test the DNA – to figure out exactly the types of vines he’s growing.


His Blanc de Blancs is made from three types: 1/3 de Rolle (or Vermentino), 1/3 de Sémillon, 1/3 D’ugni blanc. It isn’t a Gemischter Satz ( although it reminds me of such a wine. All vines are almost from the same vineyards which means similar soil, weather and also age. Harvest is at the same time, so ripeness and maturity of different sorts are pretty equal.

Although they don’t have any certificate of organic production, Clos Saint Joseph does not use any chemical substances according to Roch Zassi.

So far there is no website for Clos Saint Joseph. You can buy the wine directly from him, but I recently saw a few bottles in Duty Free at the Nice Airport!