Jean-Pierre Monier is quietly making some of the best wines in the northern Rhône though he'd bristle at the idea of being called a winemaker. If you ask him, he'll tell you he doesn't make wine, he makes Saint-Joseph. He comes from a family of farmers in the village of Brunieux above Saint-Désirat, he's the third generation actually, in the Saint-Joseph appellation. He belonged to the local co-op for years and sold them all of his fruit until 2001 when he decided to bottle his own wine. Long an adherent to biodynamic farming principles, his vines were certified in 2006, he spends most of his time meticulously farming just 5 hectares of vines on high slopes above the village. The best Saint-Josephs are grown on these steep granite hillsides, think Gonon, Faury, Voge and Chave. Monier's wines don't just belong on that list but at the very top.
Being so small and suddenly finding his wines in such demand, Monier partnered with Philippe Perréol, a local friend and fellow biodynamic grower, to pool their fruit to make just a bit more wine. The Châtelet comes from Philipe Perréols plot of 40+ year old vines above Saint-Desirat. The soil here is unusual (for Saint-Joseph) in that there's a bit of limestone over the decomposed granite, much like Cornas, and the wine really displays a Cornas-Like tension. Made the same way as the AOC Saint-Joseph with the addition of a bit of completely unobtrusive new wood and a longer temperature controlled fermentation of 3-4 weeks. This wine is a little blacker than red in the glass, again like Cornas, with ripe black fruit, violets reminiscent of Côte-Rôtie, black and musky white pepper and a lovely note of tapenade. There's a cool, stony quality to the fruit in this wine with a fine tannic streak from the mid-palate onwards and bright acidity. Long, complex mineral finish.
Both these wines are extremely difficult to come by these days and its always a bit of a scramble to get any at all. 18 bottles total and will go quickly.