Château Clerc Milon 2012
• Domaine: Château Clerc Milon
• Appellation: Pauillac
• Classification: Fifth Growth, 5ème Grand Cru Classé
• Cépages/Grape Varietals: Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
When the owner of Château Mouton Rothschild, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, acquired Château Clerc Milon in 1970, the property was in a tremendous state of disrepair. The Baron’s choice raised more than its fair share of eyebrows, considering he owned one of the créme de la créme estates in Pauillac - the First Growth Château Mouton Rothschild. People couldn’t help but wonder why one of the most prominent figures in wine would take interest in a dilapidated estate that was on the verge of fading into obscurity. This did not dissuade him as the Baron had grandiose plans for Château Clerc Milon. He described it as, “... a pretty estate that was in high quality terroir that was currently in poor condition.” It turns out, the Baron’s instincts were correct and he revitalized the property, restoring it to its former glory as a well-respected Fifth Growth.
Prior to the Baron’s acquisition of Château Clerc Milon, the history of this property is a bit of a muddled one. First records of the estate mention that Château Clerc Milon was neighbors with the more well-known property, Château Duhart Milon. Château Clerc Milon belonged to the Clerc family when it was classified in 1855, and this is how it receives its namesake. Before the Rothschilds acquired the property, the estate was parceled off and sold many times.
By 1970, there were only 10.5 hectares left of the estate and it was pretty much unknown outside of Pauillac. Once the Baron got involved, all this changed however, and he implemented his marketing prowess to change the trajectory of the estate. Anyone who is familiar with Château Mouton Rothschild will know that the estate is not only well known for its wines, but for its artistic labels. It would make sense that the Baron in his own typical, artistic fashion would change the label of the wine to feature dancing clowns traipsing around on precious stones. If one visits Château Mouton Rothschild and goes to the Wine Museum, they will see the label on display.
The labels weren’t the only thing the Baron changed about Château Clerc Milon. The Baron introduced a new, modern gravity flow winery – eliminating pump overs to soften the wines. Half of their cellars are now underground to keep cool. The grapes are now hand selected from 247 different parcels. Before vinification, the plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Carmenere are farmed 50 percent organically on the property. Interestingly enough, Château Clerc Milon has one of the largest plantings of Carmenere in all of Bordeaux.
The wines from Château Clerc Milon do require a bit of time before being enjoyed – as one can expect with the best of Pauillacs. The wines possess a perfect balance of power and fruit. Château Clerc Milon tends to appreciate when purchased en primeur, increasing in value and critical acclaim as the years progress – especially in noteworthy vintages. They have plenty of charm and are considered a cult wine because of their loyal following.
"This is another strong effort from the Mouton Rothschild stable and its excellent administrator Philippe Dhalluin. The 2012 Clerc Milon has an almost blackish-blue opaque color, soft tannins, ripe notes of blackcurrants, licorice and subtle background oak. There is an attractive floral, licorice quality to the fruit. The wine is medium to full-bodied and beautifully pure with ripe tannin. It is soft enough to be approachable in several years and should drink well for 20." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (4/29/2015, Issue 218), Ratings: 92, Drink: 2018-2038
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