We are absolutely racing into the home straight of the Bordeaux Campaign, with another pair of highly sought after wines released – the last two wines from the Denis Durantou stable – Eglise Clinet and La Petite Eglise.
This tiny flagship estate, now considered one of the superstars of Pomerol, is just over 4 hectares. Denis Durantou, the current owner and winemaker, is the 4th generation of his family to run Eglise Clinet; a rarity in Bordeaux these days.
His Grand Vin is undoubtedly one of the stars of the 2016 vintage with critics giving exceptional scores Neal Martin 97-98, on par with the legendary 2005 and 2009. This quality is not only due to Denis’ diligent winemaking, but is also testament to the old vines that deliver so much concentration and power. They are on average 40 years old, with the Cabernet Franc around 80 years old! This age delivers a depth of complexity to the fruit which, when carefully blended, sets the finished wine apart from much of its competition. Opulent and rich, with dark smouldering fruits offering up savoury notes of fresh coffee beans and exotic spices. This is wrapped up with an ethereal old vine texture, which leaves a long and haunting finish.
Denis’ second wine, La Petite Eglise, is at a very different price point but is also massively in demand. If you can get your hands on this little gem, snap it up as it represents the best value you will find in Pomerol. This is a beautifully perfumed, nuanced wine that will be approachable in its infancy. It is from a tiny plot situated on sandy soils, rather than the gravelly clays used for Eglise Clinet. 100% Merlot, it is a deep coloured wine, with complex layers of violets and dark cherries. The fruit is sweet and ripe and it possesses concentration and elegant charm
When we talked about production, normally a meagre 1,000-1,500 cases of the Grand Vin, Denis just shrugged and said ‘too few cases were made in 2016’.
Ch L’Eglise-Clinet Pomerol 2016
£1,370.00 per 6 bottles IB
90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. From Denis Durantou’s tiny 4.2 hectare estate. Glossy crimson red in the glass, with rich plum and sweet spice notes, and hints of cedar and tobacco. Denis keeps fermentation temperatures in check (between 26-28°C) so as to extract the highest quality tannins only. The palate is plump with juicy fruit and firm tannins, and this has the structure for ageing majestically. Drink 2023-2035. 94-96 points, Goedhuis & Co
Lucid in color, it has a quintessential L’Eglise-Clinet bouquet with blackberry, raspberry coulis, liquid minerals and hints of iris and incense. The palate is very precise and crisp, some of the finest tannins that you will encounter in Pomerol, tensile right from the beginning, taut and linear with immense precision towards the extended mineral-soaked finish. This is nothing less than a brilliant wine from Denis Durantou, undoubtedly one of the stars of the vintage. Drink Date 2024 – 2050. 97-99 points, Neal Martin
This has so much violet and black-olive character to it. It’s full-bodied and powerful with incredible power and depth of old-vine tannins. It just rolls on and on. What a finish. 98-99 points, James Suckling
The 2016 L’Eglise-Clinet is a magnificent, heart-stopping wine. Deep and expressive, yet with striking translucence, the 2016 simply has it all. Scents of graphite, crushed rocks, blueberry jam, spice, menthol and smoke resonate on the palate with soaring intensity and tremendous richness. Mind blowing in its depth, with tremendous persistence, an extraordinary poise, the 2016 is captivating. 96-99 points, Antonio Galloni
This is an imposing wine with huge, grainy, blackberry and violet-soaked flavours all backed up with otherworldly tannins and an immense finish. It is so spicy and so dramatic and the freshness on the finish is equal to the exuberance of the fruit and tannin. There is balsamic power here coupled with earthiness, but it is all set against a backdrop of lush fruit. Amazing. 19++ points, Matthew Jukes
We are now levitating somewhere above the rest of Denis Durantou’s excellent range. Typical of the incredibly deft and precise way of working that is his signature, this wine brings cinammon and clove then hugely deep, rich dark fruits. Utterly elegant, it just does this circuit around your mouth. This is a physical reaction to a wine that you only get in certain vintages and in very few wines. A great European wine. 98 points, Jane Anson, Decanter
La Petite Eglise Pomerol 2016 | £185 per 6 IB
Only 700 cases are made of this lovely 100% Merlot wine. Striking bramble aromas. A really pleasing style of Pomerol focusing on depth of fruit, with deeply intense mocha and hints of liquorice. The tannins are present but not overpowering, and the layers of fruit on the finish provide for length and texture. Drink 2023-2032. 93-95 points, Goedhuis & Co
The 2016 La Petite Eglise is pure Merlot as usual that was picked on 5 October this year and matured in 50% new oak. It is a small production of just 700 cases. It has a pure and elegant bouquet with a hint of oyster shell infusing the red berry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, bright redcurrant and cranberry notes and fine acidity, tender and refined towards the finish. This is another beautiful La Petite Eglise from Denis Durantou. Drink Date 2020 – 2034. 90-92 points, Neal Martin
Firm and linear wine with blackberry, violet and berry character. Medium-to full-bodied second wine of L’Église Clinet and it’s silky and refined while showing power and length. Beautiful tannins. Pure merlot. 94-95 points, James Suckling
The 2016 La Petite Eglise is a delicious second wine from Denis Durantou’s L’Eglise-Clinet. Succulent dark cherry, lavender, cloves and menthol are all fused together. Sexy and racy in the glass, with tons of aromatic nuance and mid-palate unctuousness, the Petite Eglise is a terrific introduction to the house style. Readers who can find it should not hesitate. 90-93 points, Antonio Galloni
Denis Durantou says that 2016 is the ‘revenge of the Merlot’ vintage. He says that no one can make great wine without great Merlot and in 2016 it is truly great. This is one of the most intellectually demanding of all of the second wines in this section. The tannins are heroic and the power and grace of this wine is Grand Vin-style. Made with low temperature fermentation and a short maceration, the colour and flavour is exceptional. As a colour description, ‘purple ink’ doesn’t come close. The scent of violets is all-encompassing. This is an extravagant second wine with a very long life ahead of it. 17.5++ points, Matthew Jukes
This vineyard-based selection from Denis Durantou is a notable success in 2016, showing plum and damson flavours, rich, compact, concentrated tannins, serious oak and, wafting above the whole thing like a fluttering angel, scents of violet and liquorice. 2024-32. 94 points, Tim Atkin