Taking its name, appropriately enough, from Saint Martin, the Patron Saint of winegrowers, Clos Saint-Martin wines are renowned for their sensuous, opulent style - all lush, fruit-driven flavours and silken textures. This is embodied particularly beautifully in arguably the finest wine the estate has ever produced - the notoriously difficult to find 2005 Clos Saint-Martin.
The winery dates back to the early 1800s and most recently changed hands in 2013, coming under the ownership of the Cuvelier family, who also own Clos Fourtet. Managed under the partnership of Michel Rolland, the evolution of Clos Saint-Martin continues to unfold in the most interesting (and delectable!) of ways.
I continue to love the wines from this estate, and the 2020 Clos Saint-Martin doesn't disappoint. Lots of red fruits, spice, loamy soil, camphor, and tobacco notes define the nose, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, building tannins, and just a concentrated, balanced, beautifully layered mouthfeel. It's quite tannic, so don't plan on opening bottles right out of the gate, and a solid 4-5 years of bottle age are warranted.
(93-95)+ points, JebDunnuck.com (May 2021)
The 2020 Clos Saint-Martin has an extravagant, decadent bouquet of blueberry, crème de cassis, wild hawthorn and hints of raisin, although I don’t find it overripe, just a little ostentatious. The palate is marked by succulent tannins that frame the precocious black cherry and wild strawberry fruit, and blessed with a disarming satiny texture and impressive precision toward the finish. Certainly one of the most hedonistic offerings in 2020, though it just about manages to pull it off. Tasted twice with consistent notes.
(91-93) points, Vinous (May 2021)
The 2020 Clos Saint-Martin opens with a huge bouquet of kirsch, rose petal, spice and hard candy. Ripeness feels pushed to the edge, and that gives the 2020 a decidedly exotic feel that is alluring. The tannins need time to soften, but there is no doubt the 2020 is a decidedly opulent wine.
(90-92) points, Vinous (June 2021)
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.