Clos Fourtet 2020
• Domaine: Clos Fourtet
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classé B
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
Château Clos Fourtet is a Saint-Émilion Grand Crus Classé estate that bases its entire philosophy on using the least intervention possible to express the fullest intricacies of its terroir. Limestone is what dominates the rich soils of the sprawling grounds here, and it is an integral facet of the winemaking process. If one is fortunate enough to visit the estate, they will notice a vast sprawling network of underground caves made of the very limestone that provides nutrients to the vines. These caves are the perfect natural cellar, ageing the grand vin to perfection. There is a distinctive mineral quality and subtle finesse that is a signature characteristic of this Right Bank region. Without a doubt, Château Clos Fourtet produces classic and fresh expressions of Saint-Émilion, perfect for any oenophile looking for a true treasure of the region.
Though this peaceful estate is a thriving winery now, that wasn’t always the case. Château Clos Fourtet was initially a defensive fort named Camfourtet. Vines only appeared at the estate in the mid to late 1600s. The property passed through the hands of some of the most influential families in the winemaking industry throughout the ages. The Ginstets who owned Château Margaux, and even the Lurton family who ran Château Cheval Blanc owned the estate. Eventually the estate passed down to the Cuvellier family. The Cuvellier family hired Stephan Derenoncourt and Jean Claude Berrouet to consult at the property. Stephan Derenoncourt and Jean Claude Berrouet could not be more different. Derenoncourt is self-taught and associated with Domaine de l’A. Jean Claude Berrouet studied at the University of Bordeaux and was the winemaker at Château Pétrus. One man operates based off instinct, and the other based off his extensive technical prowess. What both share is a profound respect for the terroir here, which drives them to create beautiful wine.
Merlot is the star of the show at Château Clos Fourtet. It thrives in the mixture of limestone and clay soils. The vines are on the younger side here – around 30 years old. In addition to Merlot, there are smaller percentages of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon planted at the property. The winemaking team is willing to spare no expense to ensure they create the best wine possible. At Château Clos Fourtet, they implement a mixture of biodynamic and organic viticultural techniques, allowing the vineyards to do the majority of the work. The vines are harvested and then vinified in very special stainless steel tanks that are perfectly sized to match the plots from which they came from. They are aged with just a kiss of new French oak to help the wine have a bit more structure and body. The resulting wine is flawlessly integrated, mineral-laced and fresh. Château Clos Fourtet is a rich and flamboyant wine, that does require a bit of time prior to being enjoyed. One can expect the wine to unfold beautifully after 10-15 years of bottle ageing in good vintages and should decant younger vintages for 2-3 hours.
"The 2020 Clos Fourtet is a blend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, harvested from 15th to 30th September and weighing in with an alcohol of 14.5% and a pH of 3.6. It is being aged for 14-18 months in 50% new oak barrels, 48% second-fill barrels and 2% amphora. Deep garnet-purple in color, it comes bounding out of the glass with ripe, expressive notes of crushed black plums, juicy black berries and black cherry preserves, followed by hints of ground cloves, cinnamon stick, camphor and cedar chest. The medium to full-bodied palate is jam-packed with bright, vivacious black fruits, framed by velvety tannins and bags of freshness, finishing with great length." Lisa Perotti-Brown, May 2021 Week 3: The Wine Advocate, (05/20/2021) Rating: 96-98, Drink: 2027-2057
"Plush damson and blueberry on the nose, there is juice and a tightrope walking concentration of fruits. An excellent Clos Fourtet, with a juicy edge where the magic of limestone in dry summers is very much showing through. A yield of 40 hl/ha. 14 to 18 months ageing in underground limestone cellars. 2021 sees 20 years of the Cuvelier family at Clos Fourtet and this is an excellent wine to showcase what a brilliant job they have done here. Score could go higher after barrel ageing." Jane Anson, Best Saint-Émilion Wines Tasted 2020 En Primeur (04/30/2021) Rating: 96
"One of the biggest successes on the upper plateau is the 2020 Château Clos Fourtet, and it does everything right in the vintage. A magical, perfumed bouquet of red plums, black cherries, white truffle, and white flowers just screams Saint-Emilion, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, flawless overall balance, a dense mid-palate, and a liqueur of rocks-like minerality on the palate. Building incrementally with time in the glass, this is thrilling stuff that should offer some up-front appeal in its youth yet benefit from 7-8 years in the cellar and keep for 30 years or more. Bravo! The blend is 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc that’s still resting in 50% new French oak." Jeb Dunnuck, Bordeaux 2020 En Primeur - Part 1 (05/23/2021) Rating: 97-99
"A wine of stature and breeding, the 2020 Clos Fourtet is absolutely breathtaking from barrel. A rush of lavender, graphite, spice, licorice and espresso hits the senses. Vibrant and powerful, yet also remarkably light on its feet, the 2020 has so much of offer. All the elements are so crisp, so beautifully defined. The 2020 is all class. It is one of the most promising wines of this young vintage and a fabulous effort from the Cuvelier family. Don't miss it." Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June, 2021) Rating: 96-98