Château Les Cruzelles 2019
• Domaine: Château Les Cruzelles
• Appellation: Lalande-de-Pomerol
• Classification: Lalande-de-Pomerol
• Assemblage/Grape Varietals: Merlot 80%, Cabernet Franc 20%
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
This is the last vintage produced by the legendary winemaker of Pomerol, Denis Durantou of Château L’Eglise Clinet, who unfortunately passed away in May 2020.
Denis Durantou was a colorful figure from the tiny village of Pomerol. For years, he refused to travel to meet customers or hold international tastings to promote his wine, famously saying "a chef should stay in the kitchen." His more famous wine, Château L’Eglise Clinet, is considered one of the top Pomerol stars. It eventually led fans and wine buyers to his door. His remarks on Les Cruzelles in Lalande-de-Pomerol is very revealing: "if we were in Burgundy it would be called a monopole, as I have the entirety of the 0.5ha plot". Half a hectare (barely an acre) is indeed a tiny plot!
Some of the most exorbitantly priced wines in the world rule the Right Bank region of Pomerol. Their price tags are not for the faint of heart, and few of us will be able to experience them in our lifetime. Yet nearby, Lalande-de-Pomerol offers much promise to the everyday wine lover. Les Cruzelles is a wine of tremendous quality approaching levels of some top tier estates, but at a fraction of the cost of its neighbors in Pomerol. This is largely due to the brilliant and legendary vigneron, Denis Durantou. His humility, combined with technical skill gave the wine world a series of treasures like L’Eglise Clinet (Pomerol), Saintayme (Saint-Emilion), and now Château Les Cruzelles (Lalande-de-Pomerol). Château Les Cruzelles is a formidable Pomerol, brooding and filled with concentration. The wine has a reputation as being one of the best value wines in the region, yet its remarkably high level of quality demands it be taken seriously.
Château Les Cruzelles is a property with a long history dating back to the 19th Century. Château Les Cruzelles is located in the commune of Néac, a part of Pomerol that host some other top tier estates that have yet to be discovered, like Château Siaurac. Terroir enthusiasts will know that Néac is home to some truly exceptional estates, yet lacks the prestige of the Pomerol AOC classification, so one can find many affordable hidden gems in this particular part of the Right Bank. Château Les Cruzelles is home to some rich, clay and gravel soil that hosts the vines of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Interestingly enough, Château Les Cruzelles has some of the highest percentages of Cabernet Franc in the entire Right Bank, coming in at a whopping 40 percent of their vineyard. This gravely soil lends a unique complexity to the grand vin at this estate, producing a Merlot that many consider very intense and serious. Les Cruzelles has less clay than the prestigious Durantou property, L’Eglise Clinet. Yet with all that in mind, the terroir is what the visionary Denis Durantou had hoped for to experiment with different planting programs in the vineyard.
Château Les Cruzelles is a 10.5-hectare property, with views of Château L’Eglise Clinet. The wine is fermented in tank, then aged in 50% new French oak barrels before bottling. This is a higher concentration of new Oak than some of the other Durantou properties. Denis is well known for his special treatment of the Right Bank’s star varietal, Merlot. He understands the grape and how it responds to various terroirs. All his estates feature complex, richly nuanced expressions of this varietal. Though Denis Durantou tragically passed away in May of 2020, his legacy lives on through his wines. The 2020 vintage is the first vintage without the guidance of this brilliant yet humble master winemaker. Though his passing was a tremendous loss for the industry, the knowledge he shared with his team remains something they hold dear, and the vignerons at Les Cruzelles continue to produce excellent wine as a testament to this talented, authentic man who left a lasting impact on Bordeaux and the wine world.
Winemaker Denis Durantou's Notes
"There was water when it was needed from July to September, a rapid flowering, cool nights, colour change which varied according to the grape varieties but which was homogeneous overall, and a harvest in fine dry conditions. Everything is great in 2019!
2019 Château Les Cruzelles is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc from gravelly-clay soil. The Merlot was picked from the 18th to the 25th of September and the Cabernet Franc was picked on the 28th of September. 14.50% ALC. New oak: 40%."
"This wine is produced by Denis Darantou and family of Château L’Eglise-Clinet. Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2019 Les Cruzelles (a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc) opens with powerful black fruit scents of ripe blackberries, black cherries and mulberries with underlying floral notions of lilacs and wilted roses and hints of dark chocolate, fertile loam and mossy tree bark. The medium to full-bodied palate is chock-full of expressive, crunchy black fruits, framed by chunky tannins and just enough freshness, finishing with a peppery kick." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (6/14/2020, Bordeaux 2019 Issue), Rating: 90-92
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