Clos Romanile 2020
• Domaine: Clos Romanile
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Clos Romanile is a small 1-hectare property in Saint-Émilion. Oenophiles who love all things Valandraud will have the utmost appreciation for this wine. The “bad boy of Bordeaux,” Jean Luc Thunevin himself consults here and the wine is made by the cellar master of Valandraud – the incomparably talented Remi Dalmasso. This lower yield estate is one of the happy few Grand Cru Saint-Émilion producers. The grand vin at Clos Romanile is Remi’s passion project and very much a labor of love. Each passing vintage is a profound testament to the viticultural talents of Remi Dalmasso.
This Right Bank property piqued the interest of wine consumers and Bordeaux enthusiasts alike when Remi Dalmasso began crafting Clos Romanile. With very little press and fanfare, Clos Romanile is a true insider’s wine, and fans of Jean Luc Thunevin’s concentrated, hedonistic wines should definitely consider what Clos Romanile has to offer. For those who aren’t familiar with Jean Luc Thunevin, he pioneered the garagiste movement. He specialized in micro-vinification practices and created very small production wines. Critics adored Thunevin’s wines, and it put the establishment of Saint-Émilion on their toes. This iconoclastic winemaker is no stranger to breaking the rules. In one of Valandraud’s earlier vintages, Jean-Luc was forbidden from putting his name on the bottle of his wine. Jean-Luc labeled his wine, “L’Interdit de V…D,” cementing his reputation as a rebel in Bordeaux. The rebellious spirit and micro vinification techniques are very much reflected in Clos Romanile.
At this right bank estate, the vines are older – typically coming in at 30 years. Horses are used for ploughing which helps aerate the soil at the estate. Clos Romanile practices organic and sustainable farming techniques as well and their 2018 vintage received the Robert Parker Green Emblem for sustainable viticultural practices. Like Valandraud’s other wines, the wine is micro-vinified which means that the wine is vinified in 500 liter wood barrels. Malolactic fermentation takes place in new French oak barrels. The wine is then aged in new French oak barrels for 20 months. The rich terroir in this Right Bank estate is clay with limestone soils, and the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines thrive and absorb the nutrients from these soils during times of drought. The varietals planted in the vineyard are unusual, as Cabernet Sauvignon is typically a varietal commonly found in the Left Bank. Generally speaking, most vineyards in the Right Bank prefer to work with Cabernet Franc as a varietal. Jean Luc Thunevin consults on the winemaking and vineyard management for Clos Romanile and production is smaller here at close to 1,000 bottles per vintage of Clos Romanile.
The wine needs about 2-3 years in the cellar before it can evolve into being the best it can possibly be. Clos Romanile has beautiful elements of chocolate covered cherries and a distinctly luscious, hedonistic quality to it. The small production level is close to 1,000 bottles per vintage – making it extremely hard to find and one of the treasures of the Right Bank.
"From the cooler Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes region east of Saint-Émilion, the 2018 Clos Romanile is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has lots of black, earthy fruits as well as notes of charcoal, and gravelly minerality, with some cooler, leafy herb characteristics developing with time in the glass. Medium to full-bodied, nicely focused, with good acidity on the palate, this classic Saint-Émilion will benefit from short-term cellaring." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 90-92+