Château L’Eglise Clinet 2018
L’Eglise Clinet is considered by many to be one of the truly great offerings from Pomerol. The name of this producer is often brought up in conjunction with icons of the Right Bank like Château Pétrus and Château La Fleur. Yet despite the greatness of this estate, the wine is still among the less exorbitantly priced Pomerol producers out there today. Robert Parker Jr himself once referred to this estate as a, “sleeper château of the century.”
The history of this estate dates to 1803, when a gentleman named Jean Rouchut purchased some vines near a small cemetery. In 1882, the family purchased some plots from a neighboring vineyard, Domaine de Clinet. They decided to partner, and thus L’Eglise Clinet was born. The property’s rise to stardom began when it was inherited by one of the legends in the wine industry, Denis Durantou.
The Durantou family was a family of farmers, and most of their income did not come from winemaking. Denis Durantou took over operations in 1983 and he certainly had his work cut out for him. There were no cellar floors, only dirt. The vats were old and unclean, and they were not temperature controlled. He made sweeping changes to the vat room and relined cement tanks with epoxy and replanted much of the 5.5-hectare vineyard. It took him only two years before he began to see the fruits of his labor. There’s a mixture of opulence, concentration, and body in each bottle of L’Eglise Clinet and these traits began to evolve and shine during his tenure. During the 1990s, each vintage received mounting critical acclaim and today, this opulent and lush wine is now considered one of the true stars of Pomerol.
Denis Durantou was known as, “a winemaker’s winemaker.” He valued precision when approaching his wines and was a master at handling the Merlot grape. Durantou’s authenticity was refreshing, and he was the epitome of a humble vigneron who did most of his winemaking in the vineyard. He was described by some as, “a man of the soil,” whose purposes and motivation for crafting wine was simple: bringing integrity to terroir. There was no pretense or ego that came through in his winemaking. This is especially rare in a region where exorbitant prices continue to inflate, and a great wine is more and more difficult to purchase. Denis Durantou’s contributions were important ones because he devoted a significant portion of his time to creating value oriented Pomerol that leveled the playing field. In an interview with Jane Anson, he said he wanted to translate terroir, “as honestly as possible.” Unfortunately, he passed away in 2020 after a long illness. It was truly a great loss for the wine industry in all of Bordeaux.
Denis Durantou’s legacy lives on in those thirty-seven vintages he produced. One can still always experience his technique, his precision, and his unique style in these wines. His daughters are now in charge of the property with the winemaking team headed by Olivier Gautrat who worked for Durantou family for the past 20 years.
"A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the 2018 L'Eglise Clinet has a 3.63 pH and 14.5% alcohol. It was aged in 70% new barriques. Deep garnet-purple in color, it opens with a stunning fragrant-earth perfume, accented by notions of wild mushrooms, mossy tree bark and crushed rocks, giving way to a core of black raspberries, plum preserves and fresh blueberries, plus wafts of lavender and clove oil. Medium to full-bodied, the palate shimmers with energy, delivering slow-releasing black fruit and earthy layers, framed by very ripe, finely grained tannins and fantastic tension. It finishes with epic length and subtlety. It is already so evocative and beautifully expressed at this youthful stage that is tempting to broach straight away, but give it another 5-6 years to really fan its feathers, and drink it over the next 40 or more years." - Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (3/31/21, The Wine Advocate, End Of March 2021) Rating: 98, Drink: 2026 - 2066
"Maintaining freshness in the wine was a priority for Denis Durantou at L’Eglise Clinet. “The pH developed quite quickly,” he said. “We had to test it every day; we had made a conscious decision to pick before it got too high. At a maximum of 3.7 pH, we pick. As soon as we have an evolution—a flavor change—we decide to pick.” Merlot was picked September 18-26 and Cabernet Franc on September 28. The resulting wine has a 3.63 pH and 14.5% alcohol and will be aged in 70% new barriques. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the 2018 L'Eglise Clinet is deep purple-black in color and opens with beguiling truffles, forest floor, mossy bark and black tea scents, slowly unfurling to reveal a core of Black Forest cake, plum preserves, licorice and candied violets plus wafts of tar and cast iron pan. Full-bodied, concentrated and jam-packed with muscular fruit, the velvety-textured palate delivers layer upon layer of savory and earthy accents, finishing with a lingering mineral lift." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Rating: 96-98
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|Brand||Château L'Eglise Clinet|