During Bertrand de Lur Saluces’ reign as Ch. d’Yquem’s director from the 1910s to the 1960s, he believed only one estate’s wine could rival those of his legendary château: Clos Joliette. 

Located 85 miles south of Sauternes, Joliette’s story begins with the Migne family who in 1929 planted a tiny plot of ungrafted Petit Manseng vines on a terraced amphitheater. Jean-Claude Berrouet (of Pétrus fame) later described it as “the quintessence of an exceptional terroir.”

But for much of the estate’s century-long history, its wines, made in select vintages to the tune of a couple hundred cases, were only sold privately to friends and a handful of restaurants. 

For 60 years, the Mignes remained true paysans, making their modest wines while ignoring schedules, appellational rules and profits above all. Unfortunately, it was not sustainable. 

So when Clos Joliette was sold in 1989 to Michel Renaud, a successful wine magnate, it seemed its time of obscurity was over. But Renaud, too, preserved its mystery by continuing to make small lots of wine without putting them onto the market. It was torture for insiders and collectors.

A Golden Opportunity

The tide turned in 2018 when a passionate local winemaker, Lionel Osmin, purchased the now-neglected vineyard. Having tasted many of Clos Joliette’s wines in his formative years, Osmin was determined to share them with the world. 

With the sale, Osmin was also allowed to buy all the private stock from 1993 to 2009. After painstakingly tasting through the more than 140 lots, he singled out the best old vintages and bottles and did what hadn’t been done for nearly a century: he released them for sale. 

For the inaugural release, Osmin put together a six-vintage vertical of 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2008, packed in an original wooden case. He labeled it “Édition Limitée No. 1” and made only 220 sets for the entire world. 

Making a Unicorn Wine

While no specific winemaking records were kept during Renaud’s ownership in the 1990s and 2000s, the grapes for each cuvée were picked at various stages of maturity before being crushed and pressed in an ancient basket press, and fermented slowly with zero additives. 

Aging occurred in used barrels, sourced from Sauternes’ Château de Fargues, for at least five years, and sometimes as long as eight. To maintain the wines’ freshness, the barrels were routinely topped up every other week.

Because each vintage was picked at varying ripeness, the wine could range from nearly dry to fully moelleux depending on the year, and even the barrel. So, Lionel Osmin found a clever way to categorize each unique lot by color-coding their wax capsules.

According to Yohan Castaing and Neal Martin, two critics privileged enough to taste some of these great old wines, the guide is as follows: green wax capsules are below 10g/L residual sugar; yellow is between 10 and 30g/L; and orange is beyond that, normally up to 60-80g/L.

“Édition Limitée No. 1” contained three greens (1997, 1998, 2007), two yellows (2002, 2008), and one orange, the 2001, rated 100 points by The Wine Advocate’s Yohan Castaing. The few other vintages he was able to taste received either a 94 or 95

Osmin has since gone on to release other limited edition sets, in equally tiny quantities, and will continue to do so as long as the library wines are of great condition. 

But regardless of the edition, all of the sets are true rarities, to be acquired if, and when, you ever have the chance.

Wines by this Producer

Description Notes Avail/
Please Call (415) 319-9000 for Availability

Please Wait
Adding to Cart.


Wine barrels in a cellar

Which site would you like to visit?

By clicking the retail or wholesale site button and/or using rarewineco.com you are choosing to accept our use of cookies to provide you the best possible web experience.

Read more about the cookies we use

Wine barrels in a cellar

Are you over 21?