I was recently having lunch and enjoying some wine tasting with a fellow sommelier in a small restaurant in Kensington. The wine list was concise with few well priced gems when a 1996 Eglise Clinet caught my eye. Unusually this small château of 5.5ha is dominated by the Cabernet Franc grape.
I have written about this wine before but the more I taste it or talk about it the more positive is my reaction. I have been following Denis Durantou’s wine for 10 years and in that time I have drunk some pretty outstanding vintages made in their very small cellar, just by the side of the house facing the church of Pomerol. So the 1996 was more research than orientation for me.
We had asked the Maitre D to decant the wine for us as we had a reasonably clear view on the expression of the wine as we were just exploring its level. The wine in the glass was dark, deep and with a high viscosity. The nose appeared to be quite modest, with an initial stalky-coffee beans-tobacco smell which was followed by dark fruit and spices. The nose was mellow, pure but retracted.
We were both impatient to see the evolution of the wine, so despite the fact it had already been decanted we were of the mind to pour the wine directly through the wine aerator and into our glasses from the decanter. The gently curving wings of the WineWeaver made the pouring easier by keeping the aerator balanced on top of the glass whilst gently and silently introducing oxygen to the wine. We watched in silent anticipation.
As the wine was poured the nose appeared more layered and deeper with ripe black fruit and spices followed by and underlying scent of wet stone, minerals and fresh mushrooms. The palate kept the element of the vintage with a touch of stalkiness from the Cabernet Franc.
Nevertheless the power and composition was so balanced with ripe tones, sweet spices, earth, underbrush and a textured core. A very precise wine showing some evolution finishing on ripe and classy tannins and yet more minerals…truly stunning!
Being smaller than Petrus and affordable (in most cases) whilst remaining approachable one begs to ask ’is this the birth of Pomerol’s icon’?