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Since 1983, Denis Durantou has been at the helm of this historic estate. He has quietly performed something of a revolution, introducing a host of innovations and bringing his wine-making philosophy to one of the greatest terroirs in Bordeaux. The 4.5 hectares used for the grand vin are situated next to the church in Pomerol on gravel and clay soils. A further 1.5 hectares of on sandy soils account for the excellent Petite Eglise.
Denis’ wines receive many accolades, all richly deserved. The grand vin is consistently amongst the best wines of the vintage; they are typically perfumed, nuanced and posses the structure to age gracefully for many decades.
Château L'Église Clinet
In 1882, Mr Mauléon-Rouchut, great great grandfather of Denis Durantou, brought together different plots of Clos L'Église and Domaine de Clinet. which his family had acquied in the 18th century, to make up a vineyard around the church of Saint John of Pomerol. In 1989 Durantou took over L'Église Clinet.
L’Eglise Clinet’s continuing success may well be the result of great Pomerol terroir, painstaking vine-growing and perfectionist wine-making, but grower Denis Durantou insists that the bottling can be the making or the breaking of a great wine.
"Choosing the right time to harvest and the right time to bottle are the two trickiest decisions in the winemaker’s calendar. If you get these two wrong, there is no going back; you can’t stick the grapes back on the vines and you can’t uncork all the bottles." says Durantou.
"At L’Eglise Clinet, the wine is aged in barrel with very little contact with oxygen. There are of course rackings, but we keep a high level of free sulphur throughout the whole of the ageing process to be sure there is no aromatic deviation. We don’t want to take any risks with yeasts and bacteria, and we believe that it is very important to preserve the reduction potential in great wines. But we also have to take care to explain to consumers that on opening a bottle, the wine may not be showing at its best during the first minutes; it needs a little time to breathe and come out."
Soil: clay and gravel
Production area: 5.4 ha
Grape varieties: Merlot 85%, Cabernet Franc 15%
Average age of vines: 40 years
Ageing: 18 months in oak barrels, new depending on the vintage
Château L'Église Clinet
Tel. + 33 (0)5 5725 9659
Fax + 33 (0)5 5725 2196
The 2011 vintage is not easy to handle.
Smith Haut Lafitte not only makes great white and red wine from Bordeaux in Pessac Léognan, they are also at the cutting edge of technology. They were one of the first Bordeaux wine producers to begin using optical sorting, which came in handy with the difficult 2011 Bordeaux harvest. Fabien Teitgen, long-time general manager, joined us for a long detailed conversation about what happened at Smith Haut Lafitte for the 2011 Bordeaux vintage.
“In my opinion, 2011 is balanced with a low pH and a medium alcohol level. So for those who picked at the right time, their wines will be balanced, with good concentration and good freshness. This vintage is not so easy to handle. »
Château Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, began its 2011 Bordeaux harvest on Monday, September 5.
Jean Guillaume Prats told us that 2011 set a modern record for an early start to their harvest at Château Cos d’Estournel. He added: “It was the second earliest harvest on record. To find an earlier date, we had to go back to 1893! » Although the precise date to begin picking was not set in stone, the original plan was not to begin their Bordeaux harvest on September 5. But due to a ferocious storm that swept through the region, the massive 2011 Bordeaux storm hit the northern Médoc, any hope of waiting has gone out the window. “We had initially planned to start around September 9, with the young vines. After the storm, we gave ourselves time over the weekend to assess the situation and make the appropriate decision: wait and see how it will evolve in the coming days depending on the weather. We are “lucky” that this vintage is extremely early. The damage in terms of phenolic maturity of the grapes should be very minor. If it was a later year, like 2008, 2009 or 2010, the effects would be much worse.
" said Prats
The day starts before sunrise
Château Haut Brion and Château La Mission Haut Brion began harvesting their young Merlot vines on August 29. It’s early for the First Growth domain. To give you an idea of when Haut Brion started picking its young Merlot vines in 2010, September 8. In this vintage, the harvest continued until October 9.
Between the two properties of Pessac Léognan, with red and white grapes to pick, they have a busy schedule. Harvesters begin their day working on the grapes for their Bordeaux white wine, often starting their day before sunrise.
Jean-Philippe Delmas explains why they harvest early in the morning: “The goal of picking white grapes early in the morning is to ensure that the fruit stays fresh. This helps the berries retain their unique, fresh flavors. This year, we picked our white grapes between 7 a.m. and noon. The reason is that at this time of the day, the skin is dry. There is nothing left of the dew of the night. »
Château Lafite Rothschild began harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon from their northernmost plots, located not far from Château Cos d’Estournel, on Friday September 2. 2011. This is one of the first harvests recorded for the property. You will read quotes from many Bordeaux wine producers that 2011 Bordeaux, for many châteaux, will be their earliest harvest on record since 1893! However, producers located in certain districts of Bordeaux have brought forward their harvest calendars even earlier than expected.
Due to the enormous deluge and rain in the northern Médoc, centered near the border of Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, to avoid possible rot problems, many châteaux in this vicinity decided to start picking sooner than they had originally planned. The most notable property is the famous Premier Cru, Château Lafite Rothschild. It is possible that the storm, which dropped half an inch of massive rain in a twenty-minute period, caused flooding in Lafite Rothschild's cellars.
“With our 2011 harvest, we harvested earlier because the cultivation of the vines was earlier than usual, due to the very hot spring. But the ripening weather conditions in summer were cool and cool, so the wine is of a cooler style than a late vintage. The pleasant weather conditions at the end of August and September were very good for phenolic maturity.” Fabien Teitgen from Château Smith Haut Lafitte.
Bordeaux 2011 /The earliest harvest recorded since 1893