Château L'Eglise Clinet 2019
• Domaine: Château L'Eglise Clinet
• Appellation: Pomerol
• Classification: Pomerol, Bordeaux
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
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.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2019 L'Eglise Clinet has a powerfully fragrant nose of violets, star anise, powdered cinnamon and jasmine over a core of plum preserves, blackberry pie, Black Forest cake and camphor with wafts of crushed rocks and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is an exercise in poise and precision, possessing remarkably well-defined, bright, energetic black fruit and minerally layers, supported by beautifully ripe, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with a long-lingering, mesmerizing array of earth, rock and glittery fruit nuances. This is a wine that will stop you in your tracks and demand you to think, contemplate and reflect. And if all that isn’t enough, it is also fantastically delicious. The blend this year is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, (6/14/2019, Bordeaux 2019 Issue), Rating: 98-100
"The 2019 L'Eglise-Clinet, Denis Durantou's last vintage, is also very clearly one of the wines of the year. A Pomerol of soaring, majestic intensity L'Eglise-Clinet dazzles from start to finish. Layers of dark fruit, gravel, spice and dried flowers unfold over time. I followed this sample for several days and it never lost any intensity over that time. I find the 2019 incredibly elegant and polished, but then again, I also tasted it a few months later than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Merlot was harvested from September 18 to 26, while the Franc came all in on the 26th. Readers who can find the 2019 should not hesitate, as it is a true masterpiece.
Denis Durantou's 2019s are absolutely brilliant across the board. My tasting was obviously bittersweet, as Durantou lost his battle with illness just a few weeks prior. Denis Durantou was one of the most intriguing characters in Bordeaux. I can't say I knew him well, but I always enjoyed tasting with him, as he was a person that spoke more with his eyes than with words. Things were implied rather than overtly stated. So, I tasted the 2019s with daughters Constance and Noémie over Zoom, in typical 2020 fashion. The Durantou sisters describe 2019 as a year with an early flowering and homogenous ripening that led to small, concentrated berries and higher pHs than normal. Temperatures were kept cool in the cellar, where both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations took place over cuvaison of 21 days (for all wines), in a reductive environment with little oxygen. From top to bottom, the Durantou 2019s are positively stellar. Don't miss them!" - Antonio Galloni, vinous, (June, 2020), Ratings: 97-99
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