Will Hargrove, (Head of Fine Wine at C&B) recounts a vertical tasting at Clos Saint-Martin during a recent trip to Bordeaux.
The invite came through for a supper amongst friends, during the 2017s tasting week, at Sophie Fourcade’s wonderful estate in Saint-Émilion. Two colleagues and I joined a few of the Moueix family (who distribute the wine) and other merchants. This was a really fun evening.
THE FACTS – Clos Saint-Martin (taken from Moueix.com)
Vineyard grape varietals as planted: 80% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc & 5% Cab Sauv
Established in 1850, this jewel-like estate is situated on Saint-Émilion’s limestone plateau, adjacent to Château Canon. Named after the neighboring church of Saint-Martin, Clos Saint-Martin is owned and managed by Sophie Fourcade, a descendant of the Reiffers family, established wine producers in Saint-Émilion since the 17th century, with Michel Rolland acting as consultant winemaker. At just 1.33 hectares, Clos Saint-Martin is the smallest classified growth in Saint-Émilion. The vines, averaging 35 years of age, are planted on clay and limestone soils, typical of the appellation’s limestone plateau, with southwestern exposure.
We started the evening with a tasting of the last three vintages – 2017, 2016 & 2015:
Clos Saint-Martin 2017 – Really lovely bright nose. Bold, refined, structure. Rich and quite full with a lush sweetness, no degraded fruit here. Easily demands 5-10 years but is so juicy now. Deep fruit, long and delicious.
Clos Saint-Martin 2016 – Fresh and sweet, superb, a gem, lifted and balanced, deep yet energetic. The oak is in-check, creamy but precise – special.
Clos Saint-Martin 2015 – Now bottled so in a way not a direct comparison, A touch of resin, denser, tighter. This has good red fruits, it has softened on the palate and makes a very complete wine. Has a really seductive side but will age very well.
It is a really special trio of wines from this “secret” estate!
After a lovely glass of Egly-Ouriet “Les Vignes de Vrigny” 1er Cru we went through for dinner and six older vintages.
Clos Saint-Martin 2012
– Very good indeed, lush soft fruits (so many of the 2012 right bank wines are delicious already). Gorgeous fruit and so easy to love. Youthful but appreciably good now. If you have a case its a great time to open the first bottle.
Clos Saint-Martin 2011
– Spikier and possibly more classic than the 2012. More structure and possibly one to keep as it will be lovely with secondary and tertiary aromas. Proper if less overt.
Clos Saint-Martin 2010
– Rich, savoury, complete. Super wine. Has an element of everything about it, flirtatious and serious, fruit and grip. Special.
Clos Saint-Martin 2009
– Sweetly degraded and unashamedly open, can be drunk now but will age. Looser-knit than the 2010 but equally great to my mind. This and the 2010 are a great picture on the two different but terrific vintages.
Clos Saint-Martin 2008
– A surprise package, ready now with a developed and earthy, almost leather and tobacco, edge. For those that prefer the balance to be to the earth over fruit and with some degradation this is terrific.
Clos Saint-Martin 2005
– Very promising, as tight as a coiled spring. The nose is starting to develop but the structure is tight this will be long-lived and unquestionably serious.
This was a real insight into a brilliant but tiny estate. Everything about it may be “micro” but it is not trying to make a “garage” wine or to be different for the sake of it. It is just a lovely lovely wine of which there is very little. Bravo Sophie!!
Want more Clos St Martin? Check out Adam Brett-Smith’s interview with Sophie Fourcade here.