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Half-bottle of Château Climens, Barsac 2011

White Wine from France - Bordeaux
A top-notch sweet Bordeaux from one of the region’s greatest producers, the 2011 Climens displays a delicate, floral nose with a luscious, complex palate of apricots and pineapple, all balanced by lovely freshness typical of Barsac.
Price: £45.00 Half Bottle
Price: £540.00 Case of 12
In Stock
Code: BW4342

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Very sweet
  • Semillon
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2040
  • 37.5cl (Half bottle)
  • Cork, natural

Sauternes & Sweet Bordeaux

Certainly the most famous sweet wine of France and probably the World, the luscious, complex wines of Sauternes owe their existence to a mould. The fungus in question is called botrytis cinerea, known to the French by the more attractive name of pourriture noble and to many others as noble rot.

25 miles south of the city of Bordeaux the confluence of the Garonne and its tributary the Ciron, in conjunction with the hilly geography of the area and sunny autumn weather, creates a misty early morning microclimate that is perfect for botrytis to begin and flourish. As the day warms up and the mist clears the botrytis is stabilised and remains in its benign form. Should damp, humid or rainy weather strike the vineyards all will be lost as botrytis transforms itself into the more pernicious grey rot, in which case no sauternes can be made. These unfortunate circumstances happen about twice a decade and add the already challenging economic environment for all but the wealthiest producers....
Certainly the most famous sweet wine of France and probably the World, the luscious, complex wines of Sauternes owe their existence to a mould. The fungus in question is called botrytis cinerea, known to the French by the more attractive name of pourriture noble and to many others as noble rot.

25 miles south of the city of Bordeaux the confluence of the Garonne and its tributary the Ciron, in conjunction with the hilly geography of the area and sunny autumn weather, creates a misty early morning microclimate that is perfect for botrytis to begin and flourish. As the day warms up and the mist clears the botrytis is stabilised and remains in its benign form. Should damp, humid or rainy weather strike the vineyards all will be lost as botrytis transforms itself into the more pernicious grey rot, in which case no sauternes can be made. These unfortunate circumstances happen about twice a decade and add the already challenging economic environment for all but the wealthiest producers. Great pine forests to the west offer some protection from bad weather but making sauternes is a labour of love, perhaps even a labour of passion.

Semillon is the principal grape, useful because its thin skin is pierced easily by the botrytis to allow it to feed on the moisture inside, concentrating the grape sugars and glycerol, and heightening the acidity. The second grape is sauvignon blanc which makes up about 25% of plantings, while the fragrant muscadelle brings up the rear. Vines are carefully pruned and tended in order to encourage development of the fungus. Once the botrytis appears it affects bunches unevenly, both in terms of the individual grapes within the bunch and across the vineyard. It is necessary for pickers to make several passes, up to ten on the best properties, to pick even single grapes as they are affected, and each vine yields only enough juice for a single glass of wine. Sometimes the harvest can take two months to complete. Is it any wonder that the best Sauternes is relatively expensive?

Fermentation takes place in oak barrels and can be slow because the yeasts occasionally find the sticky, sugary juice almost overwhelming, with an ever present danger of the fermentation stopping before the desired outcome is achieved. The finished wine spends some time in barrel, during which time some evaporation is allowed, before bottling.

The best terroirs are considered to be on the higher ground furthest from the Garonne and above the Ciron, where the legendary Château d’Yquem sits. Soils in the appellation are a mixture of gravel, clay and limestone, and limestone, over the communes of Sauternes, Barsac, Bommes, Fargues and Preignac. Where the soils do not offer excellent drainage systems for it have been put in place.

Sauternes, and by extension Barsac, were the only wines outside of the Médoc and Château Haut-Brion to be included in the famous 1855 Classification, with Château d’Yquem preminent.

PREMIER CRU SUPÉRIEUR
Château d’YQUEM - Sauternes

PREMIERS CRUS
Château LA TOUR BLANCHE - Sauternes. Château LAFAURIE-PEYRAGUEY - Sauternes. Clos HAUT-PEYRAGUEY – Sauternes. Château de RAYNE VIGNEAU - Sauternes. Château SUDUIRAUT – Sauternes. Château COUTET - Barsac. Château CLIMENS – Barsac. Château GUIRAUD - Sauternes. Château RIEUSSEC - Sauternes. Château RABAUD-PROMIS - Sauternes. Château SIGALAS RABAUD - Sauternes

SECONDS CRUS
Château de MYRAT - Barsac. Château DOISY DAËNE - Barsac. Château DOISY-DUBROCA - Barsac. Château DOISY-VÉDRINES - Barsac. Château d’ARCHE - Sauternes. Château FILHOT - Sauternes. Château BROUSTET - Barsac. Château NAIRAC - Barsac. Château CAILLOU – Barsac. Château SUAU - Barsac. Château de MALLE – Sauternes. Château ROMER du HAYOT - Sauternes. Château ROMER – Sauternes. Château LAMOTHE - Sauternes. Château LAMOTHE-GUIGNARD - Sauternes

Less exalted sweet wines are made across Bordeaux. Much of it is produced, unlike wines affected by botrytis, by stopping fermentation through the use of sulphur dioxide, chilling the fermenting must and sterile filtration. These wines are often labelled moelleux and they can be very mediocre. Such wines can be labelled as Bordeaux Supérieur, Graves Supérieur, Côtes de Bordeaux-Saint-Macaire, Côtes de Bordeaux-Sainte-Foy and Premier Côtes de Bordeaux. Some appellations where botrytis wines are made and which can rival good sauternes are Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Cadillac, Cérons and Loupiac. For this latter group, depressed prices in comparison with the wines of Sauternes and Barsac, have led some producers to abandon the expensive botrytis method and to make sweet wines more cheaply by following the methods of the less exalted practitioners mentioned above. Those prepared to invest the time, effort and money into making use of their terroir and the conditions it offers can make characterful, botrytis affected wines.
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Château Climens

Climens has long been recognised as the finest wine in Barsac due to the incomparable elegance and freshness of its wine. Its track record of making wonderful bottles in difficult years – and supreme wines in great years – has meant that we reckon its quality is only surpassed by Yquem, which it has often rivaled.

The estate was bought by the far-sighted Lucien Lurton in 1971, and has been run since 1992 by his youngest daughter, Bérénice, who has inherited her father’s meticulous attention to detail. The wine’s strong personality is derived from the great care of this family of winemakers, but also from the estate’s 30 hectares of unique limestone terroir, which has been cultivated according to biodynamic principles since 2010 and is now certified as such.

The different lots that go into the grand vin are only chosen after many trial blends and this is a wine that always needs time to show its full complexity. Somewhat unusually for Barsac, Climens is a single varietal, containing only semillon. It is aged for 20 to 24 months in oak barrels, 30% of which are new. Its ageing potential is extraordinary: bewitching at five years of age, it often has a lifespan of 50 years, and, in the best vintages, longer.

Sauternes Barsac Vintage 2011

Great sweet wines were made in 2011, the third excellent vintage in a row. The warm, humid conditions at the end of the season were a gift to those in Sauternes and Barsac, who have rarely seen such regular onset of noble rot. Here the rich but beautifully fresh style of the vintage makes for easier comparisons, with the fine 2007, and perhaps the great 2001.
2011 vintage reviews

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