Château Les Cruzelles 2020
• Domaine: Château Les Cruzelles
• Appellation: Lalande-de-Pomerol
• Assemblage/Grape Varietals: Merlot 80%, Cabernet Franc 20%
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
This is the first vintage produced by the team that worked with 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.
"The 2020 Les Cruzelles is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, coming from gravelly clay soil. The Merlot was picked from the 10th to the 15th September, and the Cabernet Franc was picked on the 16th of September. It has an alcohol of 14.5% and is aging in French oak barrels, 50% new. Deep garnet-purple in color, it bursts with impactful notes of plum preserves, blueberry compote and kirsch, plus suggestions of violets, mocha and pencil lead. The medium to full-bodied palate explodes with vibrant black fruits and fantastic freshness, framed by ripe, velvety tannins, finishing long and fragrant. 18,000 bottles are expected to be made." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (5/20/2021), Rating: 91-93, Drink: 2024-2039
"Rocking levels of black raspberries, plums, camphor, and new leather emerge from the 2020 Château Les Cruzelles, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a round, beautifully layered texture, a solid spine of acidity, and outstanding length. It’s a Lalande de Pomerol well worth seeking out." Jeb Dunnuck, Bordeaux 2020: En Primeur Part 2 (06/04/2021) Rating: 91-93
"Stands out from La Chenade in the vintage, with its velvet texture and a more serious sculpted feel overall. Tobacco and liquorice notes besides black cherry and raspberry fruits, good tension, serious but with Lalande-de-Pomerol unfussy appeal. 3.72pH. A yield of 38hl/ha." Jane Anson, Decanter, Bordeaux Primeur Week, (04/30/2021) Rating: 94
"The 2020 Les Cruzelles is a wine of tremendous depth and power. This part of the vineyard, planted on gravel and clay, along with the pedigree of the fruit, yields a Lalande de Pomerol built on textural resonance and power. Black cherry, spice, chocolate and menthol all come together effortlessly. This potent, virile wine has a ton to offer." Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June, 2021) Rating: 91-93
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