From the legendary Clos Fourtet winery, this Saint-Émilion rouge has all the depth and concentration you would expect from such an esteemed Bordeaux name. The Premier Grand Cru Classé Clos Fourtet holdings have been the site of wine production since the middle-ages, Now under the guardianship of Philippe Cuvelier, the wine continues to delight.
Traditional winemaking techniques make for an elegant style that sings with minerality and its impressive terroir. The vines are located in a single block, close to the medieval village, and grow atop a limestone plateau. Fresh, yet simultaneously deep and seductive, this will please for many decades.
93-95/100 Andrew Caillard MW. Medium deep colour. Fragrant red cherry/ prune/ dark chocolate aromas. Rich voluminous palate with deepset smooth dark berry/ dark chocolate/ liquorice flavours and chalky dry plentiful tannins. Finishes long and sweet. Very nice.
91-94/100 Robert Parker Jr. Two consulting oenologists with different philosophies work together at Clos Fourtet. Since Stephane Derenoncourt, a late harvester, and Jean-Claude Barrouet, a much earlier harvester, have joined forces, the results have been exhilarating. This 50-acre vineyard high on the plateau, owned by the Cuvelier family and managed by Tony Balu, had yields of 33 hectoliters per hectare. The 2011, one of the stars of the vintage, is a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by notes of graphite, truffles, blackberries and blueberries. Rich and medium to full-bodied with good acidity, sweet, well-integrated tannin and a hint of forest floor, this big, fleshy St.-Emilion should drink well for two decades.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.