Belonging to the aristocracy of the Pomerol is not the result of a decision but a heritage of quality and tradition, as in case of Clos L’Eglise. Just over three quarters of a century ago, in 1925, Savinien Giraud, the owner of Ch Trotenoy and President of the viticultural and agricultural Union of Pomerol, submitted to the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce a “Classification” of the greatest wines of Pomerol, with Clos L’Eglise listed among the leading runners. This is why it is possible to date the reputation of Clos L’Eglise and the rank assigned to it by its peers, the members of the Union.
In the 18th century, Clos L’Eglise with its 14 hectares was considered to be a very big domaine for Pomerol, ahead of about a dozen great wines which formed – and still form –the heart of Pomerol .The estate subsequently took the name of Clos L’Eglise. However, following succession problems, it was split into two with, on the one side, the original Clos L’Eglise (Rouchut family) and on the other, Clos L’Eglise-Clinet (Mauléon family). Clos L’Eglise therefore has a continuous wine-producing tradition spread of several centuries.
It is the soil which gives a great wine its personality and it is the efforts of Sylviane Garcin-Cathiard that have developed it fully. She took over the property in January 1997, and using her experience at Château Haut-Bergey in Pessac-Léognan, she completely reorganized the chai.
The soil is composed of clay and gravel, with iron deposits, which gives Pomerol its distinctive character. Situated on the slope of a hill, most of the vineyard stretches to the south-west of the building, at the break of the famous Pomerol plateau. It covers an area of 6 hectares. The vineyard is composed of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc (or Bouchet).
The facade of the building, which dates back to the 18th century, now conceals a chai which has been entirely renovated. Every effort is made to respect the grape. The grapes are hand-picked and then carefully sorted out either on the vine or in the chai. They are then placed in small crates and sent to the sorting tables to avoid damage caused by large heaps. Here, they are pressed and de-stemmed over vats. Everything is based on gravity.
The wine is made according to traditional methods. It is for this reason that Sylviane Garcin-Cathiard chose wooden vats for Clos L’Eglise. Each batch is treated separately in a thermostat-regulated vat of 60 hl. Manual pigeage has been re-introduced; the pulp and mass of skins, known as chapeau, floats to the top during fermentation and is punched down manually several times a day. The wine is left in fermenting vats for a long time, and malolactic fermentation is carried out in 100% new barrels. Ageing lasts between 16 to 18 months depending on the vintage.
“Yet in one year, an ugly duckling has been transformed into a beauty. The color is dense ruby/purple. The knock-out nose is evolved, but compelling. Aromas of sweet jammy black cherry liqueur and plump fruit are nicely complemented by smoky new oak. Round and medium to full-bodied, with a voluptuous richness and opulent texture, this hedonistic, low acid, plump, fleshy Pomerol is sexy and hedonistic. Anticipated maturity : 2000 – 2012”.
Remarks by Robert Parker - Vintage 1997