White, For laying down

2012 Ch. Climens, Barsac

2012 Ch. Climens, Barsac

White | For laying down | Chateau Climens | Code:  17303 | 2012 | France > Bordeaux > Barsac | Sémillon | Medium-Full Bodied, Sweet | 13.5 % alcohol


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Scores and Reviews







DECANTER - Seven different barrel samples were tasted from early-picked (15 Oct) to late-picked grapes (31 Oct). Early harvested samples are very pure, with lovely honeysuckle, fresh yellow fruits and fairly high concentration of sugar (130-140gm/l residual sugar). Later-picked parcels have a more unctuous texture, thicker palate and chalky finish. Micro blends that combine late- and early-picked parcels show beautiful, delicate flavours that have focus, freshness and purity. This is by far the best, most successful wine of the vintage.
Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Decanter, April 2013

JANCIS - Overall a promising and exciting vintage, with quite a bit of variation between the lots for them to play with in the blending. Though as Bérénice Lurton said at the end of the barrel tasting, the wines are changing all the time and the result of the blend is sometimes completely different from what you expected. Score and drink date are therefore approximate, based on the likely quality of the final blend.

As always, this was a tasting from barrel of the components that are likely to go into the final wine. This year, because some of the lots were so small, they had already made some micro-blends prior to this tasting. I find it quite difficult to do this tasting and wonder how useful it is in terms of getting an idea of the final wine, but it does perhaps give an indication of the overall quality of the lots. There were two main harvest periods: 15-19 October (the rain and then humidity returned on the 19th) and 29-31 October, after the wind had dried things out on the 28th. Rain returned on 1 November and it was all over. 45% of the crop harvest came in this second picking. Bérénice Lurton said she thought the first picking was, on the whole, a little more floral, the second picking very pure and mineral – although I found it hard to discern this distinction in the samples tasted. The RS levels on the first picking were higher (around 135 g/l) than on the second (100 g/l). Overall yields were 10 hl/ha, which was very good given the vintage, though about half that of 2011. She was also happy that the wine is not too concentrated this year as this is not her preferred style. 1 A blend of two lots from the first picking period (16/10 and 19/10): Spicy aroma, then spicy apricot on the palate, intense.
2 The fourth lot of the first picking, 17/10, which made up 6.5% of the harvest: Less spicy than the first sample but richer on the palate. Some almond paste along with the characteristic orange and apricot.
3 Lots 3 and 5 from the first picking (16/10 and 17/10), 15% of the harvest: Almonds again on the nose, beautifully fresh and pure with lots of energy but also silky.
4 First lot from second picking (29/10): A hint of mushrooms on the nose, seems less intense than the previous sample but tense and fresh. Lovely sour-fresh finish. Alcohol a little higher (20.3 potential).
5 Micro-blend of sixth lot from first picking (18/10) and last from second picking (31/10); 8.5% of the harvest: Honeyed and pure apricot, but also more mineral and citrusy. Sour, orange-peel intensity without excess sweetness.
6 Lot from second picking (30/10): Almond freshness and less immediately seductive than previous. Intense and more savoury/mineral than lusciously fruity.
7 Blend from first lot (15/10) and one lot from the second picking: Again that slight mushroom note along with almonds on the nose and then full-throttle apricot on the palate. Sour freshness and an almost oily minerality. Great length and depth. One of the best lots tasted. 
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com, 30 Apr 2013

WA - There was a common theme of spicy, honeyed fruit coming through on both the nose and the palate, one particular lot relatively high in alcohol that should provide the foundation for the more nuances pickings. In many ways, this is a quintessential Climens with subtle orange peel and mandarin notes allied with finely tuned acidity.

As usual, I tasted through several lots and micro-blends with Berenice Lurton and her team, to ascertain how the final blend will perform, paying particular attention to those that will form the heart of the final wine. For sure, this is going to be a Climens worth seeking out. Berenice is unequivocal that their conversion to biodynamics (to be certified in 2015) played a key role in combating bad rot in the vineyard. It was a late harvest for sure, commencing on October 15 but halted on October 19, when the rains returned. It was the north-easterly wind on Sunday, October 28 that saved their vintage – drying out the grapes and over the next three days, when they were able to conduct a blanket harvest as the crop was so even. There is certainly not a mote of grey rot and final yields were a respectable 10 hectoliters per hectare. Berenice was correct – her teams have made an excellent 2012 and I suspect that it will be the finest of the vintage.
Neal Martin - Wine Advocate - Apr 2013

The Producer

Chateau Climens

Chateau Climens

Château Climens is the leading property in Barsac, Bordeaux and produces one of the greatest sweet wines in Bordeaux.

It can trace its history back to the 16th century and was bought by Lucien Lurton in 1971. It has been owned and managed by Berenice Lurton since 1992. Climens is located in the south of the Barsac appellation, just outside the small village of La Pinesse - the vineyards (Sémillon 100%) lie on the highest point in Barsac (20m above sea level) on a gravel/sand topsoil and a limestone/clay subsoil. Yields at Climens are tightly restricted and the wine is barrel-fermented and then aged in small oak barriques (one third new) for 22 months.

If d`Yquem is the epitome of power and concentration, then Climens is the epitome of delicacy, finesse and complexity. The wines from the best vintages can last for up to 50 years. Climens is classified as a Sauternes 1er Cru Classé

The Grape



The main grape for Sauternes and particularly successfully grown in Australia's Hunter Valley. Hunter Valley Sémillon is one of Australia’s iconic and unique wines, totally unlike any wine produced elsewhere in the world from the same grape variety.

In youth the wines are quite citrusy and fresh, but are generally perceived to gain hugely in complexity as they age and are deemed to be best drunk when at least 5 years old, frequently lasting for 10 or more years. Unusually for Australia, the alcohol levels rarely exceed 11.5%.

In Bordeaux it is the most widely planted white grape and is blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the great long-lived dry whites of Graves as well as the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It is high in alcohol and extract and relatively low in aroma and acidity. Its thin skin makes it very susceptible to botrytis which is prerequisite for the making of Sauternes. It responds well to oak ageing and, while having a lightly lemony aroma when young develops lanolin flavours which some describe as "waxy", as well as a rich, creamy, intense, texture and a deep golden colour.

The Region



Barsac is one of the communes of the Sauternes appellation (along with Bommes, Fargues, Preignac and Sauternes itself). With marginally flatter land and soils of red sand and light gravels, the commune adjoins the northern boundary of the commune of Sauternes, separated by the Ciron River, whose cold waters are so instrumental in producing the region's necessary autumn fogs.

There are just over 800 hectares under vine, producing nearly two million bottles in an average year. The châteaux can choose to sell their wine under either the Sauternes or the Barsac appellation, but stylistically the wines are arguably a little lighter in style than those of Sauternes.

The leading producers are Châteaux Climens and Coutet, with Châteaux NairacDoisy-Daëne and Doisy-Vedrines making good value, attractive wines.

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