La Clotte is one to watch over the next decade, a true insider's wine that is blossoming under the Ausone team (owners since 2014). This has gorgeous limestone character, sappy, plump but understated rich red fruit character and with spicy, herbal nuances that reveal themselves as it opens in the glass. Harvest October 2 to 6 (over those two separate days because this is just 4ha of vines). Conversion to organic farming since 2020. Old vines, average age 57 years, Thierry Lezin cellar master.
Drink 2026 - 2040
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2022)
Aromas of sweet berries, cherries and rose petals, framed by nicely integrated new oak, preface the 2021 La Clotte, a medium to full-bodied, supple and charming wine that's beautifully refined and intensely flavored, concluding with a long, saline finish. It's a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc from the Vauthier family of Château Ausone.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2022)
Floral-berry notes. Tannins smooth and rounded. Acidity marked but just about enough fruit to match. Plenty of freshness. Clean, dry finish. A leaner version but terroir (limestone) evident.
Drink 2027 - 2036
James Lawther, jancisrobinson.com (May 2022)
Medium to full body with a creamy, supple tannin structure. Just-ripe plum fruit and dark berries with a touch of chocolate. Plush, yet so fresh. 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (May 2022)
About this WINE
Chateau la Clotte
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
Cabernet 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.