Clos de l'Oratoire 2012
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• Domaine: Clos de l'Oratoire
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Clos de l’Oratoire is one of the happy few properties classified as a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé. This special, small estate on the Right Bank is also owned by the illustrious Von Neipperg family, and at under $100.00 is an excellent value that showcases the mineral-laced purity that Saint-Émillion terroir has to offer. Clos de l’Oratoire is one of the younger estates in the Right Bank and was fairly obscure for many years. Once the Von Neippergs got involved, Clos de l’Oratoire skyrocketed in terms of critical acclaim – a true triumph.
Those who are aware of the history of the region of Saint-Émilion are aware that many properties have roots that date back to the Roman era. In that context, Clos de l’Oratoire has a fairly young history that goes to the 1800s. It was once a part of the massive Peyreau estate, once the property was split into separate parts around the time of the first Saint-Émilion Classification the best terroirs were considered Clos de l’Oratoire. With all that in mind, there wasn’t much attention surrounding the property – that is until Stephan von Neipperg got involved. Many know Stephan von Neipperg because of his tremendous viticultural know-now and his other successful winemaking estates including Château Canon La Gaffeliere, La Mondotte, Château d’Aiguilhe and Château Peyreau. The Von Neipperg family brings their extensive knowledge and use of biodynamic techniques to each vineyard they acquire, and the results really do speak for themselves.
Once Stephan Von Neipperg got ahold of this 13-hectare property, he made some important adjustments to the vineyard. The property was initially planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, and he removed that for a varietal more suited to Right Bank terroir – Cabernet Franc. The Von Neippergs implemented sustainable viticulture and biodynamics at the estate and continue to do so to this day. No pesticides or herbicides are ever used in the vineyards. The terroir at Clos de l’Oratoire is quite unique, and this very much influences the character of the wine produced here. There is a mixture of clay, limestone, and Fronsac molasse. At the bottom of the vineyard there is a mixture of clay and sandy soils. The climate is slightly cooler here, which is great for the reigning varietal of this estate – Merlot. The vines are 35 years old on average. The vines are all harvested by hand and vinified in temperature-controlled oak tanks. Malolactic fermentation takes place in oak barrels with aging on fine lees. The wine is then aged in a mixture of new and neutral French oak barrels depending on each vintage.
Clos de l’Oratoire is a wine that can age for a couple of decades depending on the characteristics of the vintage. In general, the wine can be enjoyed younger, and it is recommended that one decants their bottle of Clos de l’Oratoire for one to two hours or more. The wine is smooth with a mixture of a seductive finesse and opulence from the Merlot coupled with power and spice from Cabernet Franc.
"One of the von Neipperg estates, the 2012 Clos de l'Oratoire is an undeniable success story. Dense ruby/purple, with plenty of crème de cassis, roasted coffee, licorice and spice, full-bodied, opulent and sexy, it is a hedonist’s dream wine. Pure and long, it has a great finish and terrific palate presence. Drink it over the next 12-15 years. Yields were exceptionally small in 2012 – 25 hectoliters per hectare." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (4/29/2015, Issue 218), Ratings: 94, Drink: 2015-2030
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