Red, Ready, but will improve

2009 Ch. Clos de Sarpe, St Emilion

2009 Ch. Clos de Sarpe, St Emilion

Red | Ready, but will improve | Chateau Clos de Sarpe | Code:  13634 | 2009 | France > Bordeaux > St-Emilion | Cab.Sauvignon Blend | Medium Bodied, Dry | 13.5 % alcohol


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Scores and Reviews



WA - I have had this wine on three occasions. I had inconsistent problems with it from barrel, and now that it is in bottle, it seems atypical for this estate, where I have loved every vintage until 2009. It has an unusual set of aromatics that are difficult to articulate, suggesting a wine that is on the verge of oxidation. The tannins, of course, are high, but this is my least favorite vintage of what can be a very great wine in many years.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 29/02/2012

The Producer

Chateau Clos de Sarpe

Chateau Clos de Sarpe

There is only a tiny amount of this excellent St Emilion Grand Cru made each year. The 10 acre vineyard is biodynamically farmed and is situated on a south-south-east-facing, limestone hillside. The plantings are very old vines, 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.

The winemaking is very modern with an eight to ten day maceration, followed by a long, four to five week fermentation and maceration with micro-oxygenation. The wine is aged for 16-18 months in 100% new oak barrels.The style is powerful, fruit driven and rich with notes of black fruit, smoke and liquorice.

The Grape

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

The Region



St Emilion is one of Bordeaux's largest producing appellations, producing more wine than Listrac, Moulis, St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux put together. St Emilion has been producing wine for longer than the Médoc but its lack of accessibility to Bordeaux's port and market-restricted exports to mainland Europe meant the region initially did not enjoy the commercial success that funded the great châteaux of the Left Bank. 

St Emilion itself is the prettiest of Bordeaux's wine towns, perched on top of the steep limestone slopes upon which many of the region's finest vineyards are situated. However, more than half of the appellation's vineyards lie on the plain between the town and the Dordogne River on sandy, alluvial soils with a sprinkling of gravel. 

Further diversity is added by a small, complex gravel bed to the north-east of the region on the border with Pomerol.  Atypically for St Emilion, this allows Cabernet Franc and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Sauvignon to prosper and defines the personality of the great wines such as Ch. Cheval Blanc.  

In the early 1990s there was an explosion of experimentation and evolution, leading to the rise of the garagistes, producers of deeply-concentrated wines made in very small quantities and offered at high prices.  The appellation is also surrounded by four satellite appellations, Montagne, Lussac, Puisseguin and St. Georges, which enjoy a family similarity but not the complexity of the best wines.

St Emilion was first officially classified in 1954, and is the most meritocratic classification system in Bordeaux, as it is regularly amended. The most recent revision of the classification was in 2012

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