Every single En Primeur campaign, the very best value wines are from the magical ‘satellite’ estates owned and managed by Denis Durantou, all-round winemaking genius and owner of the Pomerol legend L’Eglise Clinet. Even in less vaunted vintages Denis’ wines deliver the goods at an exceptional price; in better years, they become the very definition of a ‘no-brainer’. Today sees the release of his 2017s.
Our visit to taste Denis’ wines is always a highlight and 2017 was no exception. Denis has proven himself once again to be the master both in vineyard and winery: he always knows exactly when to pick, and he is the king of tannin management – his wines always boast the perfect balance of structure and finesse, generosity and ageability. Even where his vines were challenged by the April frosts Denis seems to have total mastery over the outcome and his 2017s certainly do not disappoint.
At GBP 130 we have Saintem. Traditionally known as Saintayme, this is Denis’ St Emilion Grand Cru, produced from 100% Merlot. It has the capacity to age, as a recent parcel of 2000 showed so effortlessly. We found this a supple, but incredibly pure wine with superb structure – one with long term potential. You will struggle to find a better wine with potential for 91 points (NM) at this price.
Montlandrie at GBP 175 is a beautiful hillside estate of 9 hectares in the Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux region, famed for the ancient stone tower in its centre. We loved the 2017 which was densely fruited and crisp, with fine structure – and a 91-92 point score from Neal to boot. A truly grown-up wine at an excellent price.
Denis also boasts vines in Lalande de Pomerol, producing two wines: Les Cruzelles and La Chenade, released at GBP 200 and GBP 145 respectively. You can actually see the Les Cruzelles estate (which produces both wines) from L’Eglise Clinet, it is that close, and both wines typically deliver truly exceptional value for money.