Genius winemaker, Denis Durantou - April 2013
Constance Durantou (left) and Noëmie Durantou (right) + Olivier Gautrat, the cellar master - April 2022
Its present name (since 1955 vintage) is a combination of the names of two properties, Clos L’Église Clinet and Domaine de Clinet. It's ideally located inside the so-called "Le Plateau Argileux" area in mid-Pomerol, north of the church and next to the cemetery. The soil is a blend of gravel, clay and sand on the surface, while the subsoil consists of clay mixed with "crasse de fer".
L’Église Clinet is one of the few properties in Pomerol that did not dig vines up after the disastrous frost in 1956. That is why you can find vines here which are 60-100 years old.
From 1942 to 1982, this property was managed by Pierre Lasserre, the owner of Clos Rene in Pomerol. Denis Durantou took command in 1983, and vintage 983 was the first one he made. He introduced immediately as late harvest as possible and a very strong selection of cuveés for Grand Vin and a maximum yield per ha at 35 hl.
Meeting Denis Durantou was always a great pleasure, and I have met him many times since my first visit in September 1985. He was a true magician and an incredibly gifted winemaker with his way of doing things. He told me that he always utilized traditional winemaking without modern tweaks. F.i. There was no use of malolactic fermentation in barrels - he said he would get the same flavours every year by using this vinification method, and he didn't fancy that.
Denis Durantou died in May 2020.
L’Église Clinet is undoubtedly among the absolute top wines in Pomerol. It is an incredibly complex and nuanced wine with minerality, striking power and concentration, richness and tremendous longevity. Purely Pomerol!! The second wine here is La Petite Eglise.
During the 1980 and 1990s, I came across the fabulous 1983, fantastic 1985 (qualitatively very close to the Pétrus itself!), outstanding 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990, emphasizing Denis Durantou's brilliant skills as a winemaker. The very well-structured, compact and spicy 1994 was a success for the vintage, while 1995 appeared as a monstrous hit with power, sappiness and enormous depth. All these wines would be rated at 94-95p, except 1985 (99p) and 1995 (98p). I haven't retasted these wines since then.
It's also worth mentioning the excellent quality you get for the money of the other properties Durantou family owns - Santayme/Saintem /St. Emilion), La Chenade and Les Cruzelles (Lalande de Pomerol) and Montlandrie (Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux).
L'Eglise Clinet 2021 (barrel sample) 95-96p
Tasted in April 2022. 85% Merlot + 15% C. Franc. 14% alcohol. Denis Durantou's daughters, Constance (in charge of tastings and receiving visitors) and Nöemie (the winemaker), continue their father's great work with grace. 2021 here was dazzling. Traditionally tight with a strong backbone, plenty of morello cherries added a couple of violets and a few slices of black winter truffle. Mineral, vibrant and sophisticated. Sublime stuff.
L'Eglise Clinet 2020 (barrel sample) 98-99p
Tasted in May 2021. 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. 14.4% alcohol. Classic stuff and no modern tweaks here. Powerful and concentrated, strong backbone, fat and dense on the palate (old vines), lot of minerality, great complexity, multilayered and excellent length, and long, long finish. Denis Durantous' two daughters, Constance and Nöemie, and the cellarmaster, Olivier Gautrat, did a fantastic job with the vintage!
L'Eglise Clinet 2019 98-99p
Tasted in November 2021. It was the last vintage made by Denis Durantou before he left for wine heaven in May 2020. 90% Merlot + 10% C. Franc. 14.5% alcohol. Very intense on the nose with black cherries, violets and black winter truffle. Also, a secondary aroma of grated dark chocolate. Succulent, vibrant and silky on the palate with great complexity and length. Persistent finish. Stupendous effort.
L'Eglise Clinet 2018 98+p
Tasted twice - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. 90% Merlot + 10% C. Franc. This wine had a huge concentration, strong backbone, fat and dense on the palate (old vines), a lot of minerality, great complexity, multilayered and excellent length, and long, long finish. Denis Durantou had always utilized traditional winemaking at his properties without modern tweaks. Amazing stuff. 98+p.
L'Eglise Clinet 2017 97p.
Tasted twice - last time in November 2021. Consistent notes. 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. A textbook Pomerol wine with plenty of spicy black fruit, intense and creamy, fabulous complexity and depth, sophisticated and terrific structure and long finish. More elegance here than in 2018-2019. Stunning wine.
L'Eglise Clinet 2016 (barrel sample) 98-99p
Tasted in April 2017 - Denis Durantou hadn't done anything wrong in the 2016 vintage! This wine displayed an excellent ripeness and acidity, violets and black cherries everywhere, powerful, extraordinary complexity, great depth and was stunningly rich. Mega long aftertaste. Tremendous effort.
L'Eglise Clinet 2015 98p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2018. Consistent notes. In April 2016, It showed from the barrel an excellent ripeness and acidity, with black cherries everywhere, powerful, deep and stunningly rich. Bull's eye effort. Then two years later, I was delighted when Denis Durantou poured his magnificently delicious 2015 vintage into the glass at my kind request. Lots of tannin and sweet lack fruit, very creamy, deep and long. Fantastic wine, and I'm delighted I've purchased a few bottles of it en primeur!!
L'Eglise Clinet 2014 (barrel sample) 96+p
Tasted in March 2015. Denis Durantou, the magician winemaker at this highly regarded property, did make sublime wines in 2014. It's like he always brings out the best possible from the grapes, no matter how much weather conditions challenge him! Grand Vin (90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc) had an excellent ripeness and acidity, black cherries everywhere, powerful, deep and stunningly rich. Bull's eye effort.
L'Eglise Clinet 2013 (barrel sample) 94p
Tasted in April 2014. L'Eglise Clinet, in comparison to recent vintages, was lighter in texture and had a shorter finish. Nevertheless, it had a trademark cherry aroma mixed with chocolate, truffles, sappiness, and fine structure and length. Very Pomerol and great effort for the vintage.
L'Eglise Clinet 2012 (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted in April 2013. This was a classy, stylish and rich wine with a distinct nose of black cherries mixed with chocolate/cocoa powder, stunningly complex with a myriad of nuances and excellent length/aftertaste. Stunning effort.
L'Eglise Clinet 2011 (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted in March 2012. It was a classy and stylish wine with vibrancy, great complexity, various nuances and excellent length/aftertaste. Full-blown ripeness of fruit and tannin and beautiful balance. It was wow stuff from Denis Durantou!
L'Eglise Clinet 2010 99-100p
Tasted in April 2013. This wine was so "thick" that you could slice it! Enormous concentration and intensity. 90% Valrhona chocolate, mixed with black cherries and blueberries, superb composition and richness of nuances, strong as a rock and an extraordinary length. Mind-boggling effort!
L'Eglise Clinet 1970 95p
Tasted in April 2007. Dark red, young appearance, tight and impressively structured. Packed with lush cherries and raspberries, and truffles. Complex, vibrant and long on the palate and with a firm, sweet finish. Wonderful wine.