Drinking Window 2027 – 2044
Jane Anson, Decanter (spring 2019)
About this WINE
Château Clinet is a small Pomerol property that has leapt to prominence in the last 15 years and now produces one of the most sought-after wines in the region. The 9-hectare vineyard is on top of one of the finest plateaux in Pomerol and is planted with Merlot (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).
In the 1980s Jean-Michel Arcaute married Clinet's proprietor George Audy's daughter and by 1986 Jean Michel was running the property. He engaged the services of cult oenologist Michel Rolland, who introduced much later harvesting, ensuring super-ripe fruit, as well as extending the amount of time the wines spent in 100% new oak barriques. Within 5 years, Clinet's wine were being compared to those of Pétrus, Lafleur and Le Pin, and selling for similar prices.
Clinet produces a wine which is concentrated and rich but is supremely well balanced with a finish that lasts and lasts. It is hard to resist when young, yet the wines from the best vintages will continue to improve for over 10 years. Jean-Michel Arcaute was tragically killed in a boating accident in 2001.
Pomerol is the smallest of Bordeaux's major appellations, with about 150 producers and approximately 740 hectares of vineyards. It is home to many bijou domaines, many of which produce little more than 1,000 cases per annum.
Both the topography and architecture of the region is unremarkable, but the style of the wines is most individual. The finest vineyards are planted on a seam of rich clay which extends across the gently-elevated plateau of Pomerol, which runs from the north-eastern boundary of St Emilion. On the sides of the plateau, the soil becomes sandier and the wines lighter.
There is one satellite region to the immediate north, Lalande-de-Pomerol whose wines are stylistically very similar, if sometimes lacking the finesse of its neighbour. There has never been a classification of Pomerol wines.
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.