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Appellation: Barsac (Sauternes)
Classification: First Growth of Sauternes – Barsac from 1855
Area under Wine: 31 hectares
Grape variety: 100% Semillon
Soil: ferrous clay sand on fissured starfish limestone sub-soil
Yield: Global Yield (on average over 20 years): 13hl/ha
First Growth yield (average over 20 years): 7hl/ha (i.e. 25 à 30 000 bottles per year)
Average age of vines: 38 years
Density of vine planting: 6 600 vines/ha
Vineyard management: Biodynamic since 2010
Vinification: in small lots in French oak barrels with 30 to 40% new oak each year
Barrel maturation: 20 to 22 months
Second Wine: Cyprès de Climens
This noble sweet white wine, graceful and weightless, is a subtle wine that is like no other. If it is the very expression of the quintessence of this appellation with balance and freshness, it also has the strength and magnificence among the greatest Sauternes. Climens is characterized by brilliance or depth, borne only of its unique terroir.
This special grace, the result of tightness and minerality is also blessed with an extraordinary aromatic palette, mingling perfumes of flowers, fruits, spices, and often even a hint of eucalyptus or fresh mint. In their youth the wines, which have a pale colour that is reminiscent of the aromas, are dominated by citrus fruit (grapefruit, lemon, citron), fresh fruit and white flowers. Sweet spices and other deeper, confected fruit flavours will develop with the passing of time. Whatever the vintage, the wines continue to age slowly, retaining their harmonious blend of sweetness and freshness for decades, which signs their inimitable charm.
Climens is most famous for the elegance of its wine, but also for its sustained excellence: even in less than great vintages, the wines produced are always magical.
The 1996s stand as a “classic” Bordeaux year, although – as Jancis Robinson MW has written – not in the “skinny” sense; although Farr Vintners’ director, Tom Hudson, told the drinks business that it was perhaps a “very good” rather than a “truly great” year as it wasn’t uniformly excellent across the region.
By way of a recap, 1996 was a particularly sterling vintage for Médoc wines. The Berry Bros & Rudd website extolls: “This is one of the great post-war vintages for Médoc Cabernet-based wines. They are rich, complex and beautifully balanced wines, packed with ripe, pure fruit and have the structure that will allow the top wines to age well into the next decade and beyond.”
The Right Bank by contrast are described as “distinguished” but “overshadowed” by the ‘95s – which was an especially good vintage for Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
It was also an excellent vintage for white Bordeaux.
Robert Parker’s scores tend to favour the Left Bank, though a few of the very best wines of the Right Bank received very respectable reviews as well.
Only two wines received 100-points: Lafite and Latour, Margaux was rated 99, Léoville Las Cases 98, Ducru Beaucaillou 96 and Pichon-Comtesse 96.
La Mondotte was the highest rated Right Bank wine on 97-points, Ausone was the next best rated on 93 as was L’Eglise Clinet, while Gomerie, Petrus and Le Pin settled for 92 and Cheval Blanc for 90.
With the passage of nearly 20 years, the wines have naturally appreciated and now that they are well into their drinking window demand will almost certainly begin to push prices up even further for the most in-demand among them.
The figures are often impressive, to date Lafite has seen a rise of 657.9% since its release, its second wine Carruades is up 592%, Latour has risen 437%, Petrus 400% and Pichon Baron 240%.