The estate of Clos L’Eglise in Pomerol is run by Hélène Garcin Lévêque, and her family have been the custodians of this estate since they acquired it in 1997, writes John Willis. The property, which dates back to the 18th Century, used to be 14 hectares, double the size it is today. The missing half went to form part of Château L’Eglise Clinet in 1954. The size of Clos L’Eglise is small (even by Pomerol standards) with only 5.9 ha under vine at present. Tasting the vintages from 1997-2016 was a fantastic insight into the overall philosophy of this estate and shows the general improvement of the wines across the period. A genuine sense of place, of terroir, comes across in the wines of this ambitious Pomerol, something to which many properties aspire but sometimes fail to achieve.
Evaluating Clos L’Eglise on the basis of how well it seems to reflect the terroir of Pomerol was obviously only one aspect of this reflection on the wines tasted. The other was which years were the most enjoyable and exciting for me personally. The vintages that really stood out were 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015.The following twenty vintages of Clos L’Eglise were tasted at 67 Pall Mall on 30th January, 2018.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2016
On the nose there are wild strawberries and hints of garrigue with lovely undertones of plums and clove. The palate offers plums and strawberries with some grippy tannins, good acidity and an excellent finish. Drink 2021-2028.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2015
Lovely purity of fruit with fresh strawberries and raspberries, rich and concentrated yet also so pure. Lovely subtle notes of sweet spices coming through from the oak. The palate offers rich and spicy plummy fruit with undertones on black fruit along firm tannins and a lively acidity leading to a lengthy finish. Drink 2020-2027.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2014
Beautifully fragrant aromatics: strawberry jam, raspberries, asian plum spices; very elegant on the nose indeed. The palate is bursting with redcurrant and wild strawberries with a refreshing backbone of acidity and firm but silky tannins. A really superb wine. Drink now-2026.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2013
Less concentrated on the nose than most of the other wines, though there is still some good red fruit and a touch of spice, well balanced use of oak. Fresh vibrant red fruit on the palate however, there is a touch of greenness and dilution as well. Least impressive of the bunch so far. Tricky wet growing season. Drink 2019-2023
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2012
Elegant plummy fruit with some fresher notes of redcurrant coming through. On the palate it has a lovely supple texture with lots of fresh red fruit again that seems to just wash through in a very silky way with firm tannins and a refreshing acidity. Very enjoyable now but will certainly be worth ageing. Drink 2018-2025.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2011
Smoky jam compote, stewed strawberries, cloves, nutmeg, a very aromatic and dense wine. The palate is rich with red fruits and plummy spices. Firm tannins with a good balance of acidity and tannins. Drink 2019-2024.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2010
Lovely complex bouquet of red cherry, raspberries and plum. Dense yet also very elegant. Lovely undertones of fruitcake and cloves. The palate is bursting with fresh red berried fruits followed by layers of dark fruit, chocolate, spice, and cream. Great lengthy finish with grippy but integrated tannins. You can drink this but it could do with a couple more years in the cellar. Drink now – 2025.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2009
Rich and concentrated dark fruits on the nose, yet I get the impression this wine was a little closed and had more to offer than it was showing. Again lovely subtle sweet spices coming in from the nicely integrated French oak. The palate has a great concentration of fruit, bold and powerful with firm grippy tannins. Great potential but already approachable. Drink now-2025.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2008
Clean cherry and plum with underlying tones of fruitcake and ginger spice. On the palate the acidity and the tannins stand slightly at odds with the richness of fruit, nonetheless there is still some lovely sweet red fruit and spice. Drink now – 2022.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2007
Some red cherry fruit on the nose, not as much aromatic intensity as the others, the oak seems to take more prominence than the fruit. On the palate you have a lovely balance of red fruit and real freshness, with grippy tannins. A successful ’07. Drink now.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2006
Fresh red fruit with light liquorice undertones and light herbal aromas and delicate sweet spice. Fresh red berry fruit washes over the palate with some slight red currant tartness, balance and elegance. Great structure with grippy tannins. Drink now – 2020.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2005
Very rich red and black fruit, though I get the feeling there is more than is quite showing. Great concentration and nicely integrated oak; lovely sweet spice. On the palate you get dense layers of spiced plum, chocolate and earthy notes. Drink now – 2022.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2004
Very aromatic, red berry fruit and spiced plum jump out of the glass. Saturated and rich. More spiced juicy plum on the palate, good acidity adding a nice freshness. The finish is good but not as long as the others. Drink now.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2003
Ripe dense bouquet of sweet red fruits with notes of nutmeg and vanilla and plum, good extraction. An immediate hit of plum and cherry on the palate with well integrated tannins and lingering taste of fruitcake and sweet spice. Has all the hot vintage characteristics but still in good shape. Drink now.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2002
Notes of cherry and red fruit with underlying blackcurrants and light hints of dark chocolate. Rich and brooding palate, with plum, cherry and velvety tannins. Very bold yet also very elegant. Rich and concentrated with great balance of alcohol, fruit, acidity and tannins. Successful ’02 this. Lovely finish. Drink now – 2020.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2001
Beautiful aromas of plum, toffee, coffee and spice with underlying ripe red fruits, very polished. Intensely rich and layered palate with red fruits and velvety tannins balanced with good acidity and a lengthy finish. Superb wine. ’01 better here than ’00. Drink now – 2022.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 2000
Elegant bouquet of red cherry, plum and sweet spice, emerged but this was dumb on the nose initially and reticent in comparison to other quality vintages. On the palate the red fruit carried through but was fading, with some spice but also a touch of greenness that was competing with the fruit. Good finish. Drink now.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 1999
Inviting aromas of fruitcake, ginger, plums and clove in a lovely complex layer with red berry fruit undertones. Lovely fruit on entry to the palate with well integrated tannins complimented by refreshing acidity, with long savoury finish. Drink now but will hold.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 1998
Aromas of smoky plum and some attractive delicate sweet red berry fruit again with hints of spice. On the palate you have good grippy tannins with more prominent fruit than the ‘97 but nonetheless I get the impression that this wine is fading. Drink now.
Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol, 1997
On the nose you have notes of plum, red berry fruit, hints of sweet spice and lots of tertiary aromatics coming through in the form of leather and truffle. On the palate the fruit disappeared very quickly and was substituted for some greenness and which sung a completely different song to the nose. Nonetheless the finish was long and tannins well integrated. Would drink immediately.
Annual Production: 15,000 bottles
Soil: Clay and Gravel
80% Merlot – 20% Cabernet Franc
Soil Culture: Organic and sustainable
Maturation: 100% new French oak barrels for 18-24 monthsJohn Willis is the President of the Fine Wine Society of King’s College London and a Wine Adviser at Tannin & Oak in Hampstead and covered the tasting for www.winewordsandvideotape.com