Throughout the Bordeaux 2012 En Primeur Campaign we have seen some chateaux taking note of the market and utilising a sensible pricing strategy that will appeal to merchants and consumers alike. (On the other hand we have seen plenty of chateaux who have failed to do so for a number of reasons. I will be looking into this in a further blog). However I was delighted to see the First Growth (Premier Grand Cru Classé B) Chateau Clos Fourtet amongst the recent releases and have now acquired allocations (please see Interest In Wine).
Whilst at the En Primeur tastings Clos Fourtet was one of the Saint Emilion’s that impressed me – it showed very well from barrel and was a nice example of a good Saint Emilion: well rounded, good dense fruit, elegance on the finish and polished tannins. I was pleased to see that Parker was also impressed with the wine, awarding it 93 – 95 points. This is a chateau that has gone on from strength to strength and doubtless will continue to do so in the future. Parker says the 2012 is a ‘Killer St Emilion’ and I agree that this will mature into a stylish, sophisticated wine with a formidable impact:
Parker’s Tasting Note:
It offers an opaque dense purple color along with attractive blackberry, licorice, truffle and cassis fruit notes. It is full-bodied and dense with an authoritative mid-palate, sweet tannin and a layered mouthfeel that builds incrementally into a stunningly long finish. Precocious and charming already, it will drink better at an earlier age than the massive, prodigious 2009. Drink this killer St.-Emilion over the next 15+ years.
One can’t say enough about proprietor Cuvelier’s 50-acre vineyard that has witnessed a profound transformation of quality over the last decade or more. Moreover, Cuvelier recently purchased three neighboring estates that are consistently reviewed positively in this publication, Les Grandes Murailles, Clos St.-Martin and Cote Baleau. These were previously owned by Sophie Fourcade. Interestingly, since these three properties are adjacent or close to Clos Fourtet, I would not be surprised if over the next decade they become incorporated into Clos Fourtet. Another great success for Cuvelier and his estate manager, Tony Ballu.
The three properties Parker mentions are all Grand Cru Classé (previously owned by the Reiffers family) and are a prudent purchase on the part of Clos Fourtet’s owners, the Cuveliers. Both Clos Saint Martin and Les Grandes Murailles have maintained this rank since 1955 with each subsequent classification. However one intriguing result from the recent 2012 Saint Emilion Classification was that Chateau Baleau(which was first classified Grand Cru Classé in 1955 but lost its status in 1969) came back into the spotlight from off the radar when it regained its Grand Cru Classé status under the new name of ‘Chateau Côte de Baleau’.
All three of these chateaux have fairly small acreage but are very close to Clos Fourtet (Clos Saint Martin is a tiny vineyard whose origins lie in 1850). Côte de Baleau and Les Grandes Murailles are very old estates, having been in the Reiffers family since 1643 when King Louis XIV awarded them to an ancestor of theirs – a soldier – in recognition of his military exploits. Clos Fourtet itself has an ancient history and was once a Medieval military fort known as Camfourtet (Camp Fourtet) which defended Saint Emilion. Some of the encircling walls of the original fort still exist today and Clos Fourtet is one of the few walled vineyards in the area.
The chateau may no longer be fortified but they have been making beautiful wines with almost military precision for some time now, long may it continue.