Who needs Sauvignon when you have Sémillon of this quality! Ch Climens is proud to stand alone in only using one variety for their sweet wine from Barsac. As proprietress Bérénice Lurton explains, “why meddle, when the red soils of the estate are so perfectly suited to this wonderful variety?” She is obsessed with purity of fruit and there is no better vintage to exemplify it. Having tasted 12 different casks, this gorgeous cuvée is going to have everything: honey, exotic fruits, fresh clementine flavours, hints of caramel, and delicious freshness. DR
The 2016 Climens was tasted from the 12 different lots that will go into the Grand Vin, with some selected from the Deuxième Vin, Cyprès de Climens. As usual, I had to assemble them in my mind and relate commonalities, though at a négoçiant a week later I re-tasted four preprepared micro-blends. I found much elegance this year. It is not a powerful Climens in the making and even with the higher alcohol lots that reached 14.9%, you could not feel any warmth and the wines maintained the tension. Some lots displayed saline finishes, perhaps a little more than usual. Perhaps the most important factor was just how "Barsac" they all tasted. Sometimes some lots can taste more Sauternes-like in style, but not this year. Drink Date 2021 - 2055
Climens is usually blended over a prolonged period of at least a year with various lots assembled painstakingly along the way. Until 2017 this has meant that tasters have to visit the chai and schedule a good hour for the barrel-by-barrel process (see What may go into Climens 2015). This year Mathieu Chadronnier of CVBG persuaded Bérénice Lurton of Climens to provide samples of the four main ingredients in Climens 2016 for their tasting at Ch Belgrave in the Médoc, thereby putting it on the itinerary for far more tasters. A much-appreciated initiative. Sample from northern parcels (picked 30 Sep and 18 Oct, 14.1% alcohol, RS 120 g/l, 16% of the crop): Liquorice and rich and round and exciting. Thick and round. Sample from the eastern parcels (picked 29 Sep and 3, 4 Oct, 14.2% alcohol, RS 131 g/l, 27% of the crop): Toasty, deep and edgy with a green streak. From the western parcels (picked 28 Sep, 4, 8 Oct, 14.4% alcohol, RS 129 g/l, 14% of the crop): A bit loose and sweet with bracing acid. Big and bold, with a firm end. From the southern plots (picked 6, 19, 20, 22 Oct, 14.2% alcohol, RS 141 g/l, 43% of the crop): Friendly, round, fresh and floral, gorgeous. Bright fruit. Drink 2026-2048
I tasted the 2016 Climens from four separate lots identified by location, harvest dates, alcohol, residual sugar and the percentage each lot represents of the harvest. The four wines were remarkably different. The Nord was both plush and tropical-leaning, yet with notable freshness, while the Sud managed to be both deep and also light on its feet. I found the Ouest to be the most precise and aromatically lifted of the samples, while the Est was the most concentrated. A simple, impromptu blend of the four lots suggests the 2016 Climens is shaping up to be a magnificent Barsac. The interplay of the various components is quite remarkable.
Climens hold blending tastings every few weeks during maturation, and generally the final blend is made in the November of the year after harvest. Climens only needed two 'tries' through the vineyard here, which has been the case for two or three years as it goes so smoothly. The first tri took place on 20th September following 40mm of rain in mid September, which helped to kick-start the botrytis. The overall yield of around 20hl/ha mainly avoided mildew, and importantly proved that biodynamics can withstand difficult climatic conditions. They work with individual lots here to ensure the right balance, and tasting through several lots the homogeneity of quality is really impressive this year. The overall impression is of smooth citrus fruits with a succulent, velvety rich texture and a beautiful creaminess. There are toffee and nut notes and a gorgeous focus, with true salinity on the finish. The 3.7pH is very close to last year's acidity analysis.
I tasted the four components of Climens – but stopped short of making up my own blend! On the basis of the four parts below I have awarded a score. Please bear in mind that this is not a finished, blended wine. North – (16% of harvest) stone fruit, focussed with power and some bitterness, too. South – (43% of harvest) with tension and bold acidity, this is a stunning part with drama and power. East – (14% of harvest) pretty and quite shy and dry, this is a more reserved portion with some finesse and restraint. West – (27% of harvest) exotic, honeyed, flamboyant and sexy, this is a very flirtatious element with some power beneath its exotic appeal.
Château Climens is one of the most sought after sweet wines in the world. Located in Barsac next to Sauternes, only 5 families have owned the Château since its inception in 1547. It was rated 1er Cru in the original Sauternes classification with other neighbouring estates such as Rieussec, Suduiraut and La Tour Blanche; however, it is generally regarded as the best of the bunch though it is slightly lesser known. In 1971, it was bought by Lucien Lurton, and it is run by his youngest daughter Bérénice since 1992. Produced mostly from Semillon, it is known for its refined elegance, ethereal touch and notable complexity.
It is not an exaggeration to say that these are the greatest sweet wines in the world. They are the result of a serendipitous marriage of grape variety, location, annual weather conditions and human care and determination. The vineyards are located on the banks of the cool spring-fed Ciron river which, in autumn, flows into the warmer tidal Garonne and creates rolling evening mists which clothe the vines until the afternoon sun burns them off the following day. This cycle creates perfect conditions for the development of botrytis cinerea or noble rot, and the resulting grape juice is a super concentrated sweet, ambrosial nectar which makes the most heavenly and complex wines with extraordinary ability to age. In 1855 the wines were classified into first and second growths, with Ch d'Yquem rightly receivingits own super status of premier grand cru. Other stunning wines include Chx Sudiraut, Rieussec, Coutet and Climens. While seductively fragrant and sweet when young, if you can bear to wait, you will be amply rewarded with lusciously rich, exotically complex wine.