Clos L’Église Retrospective, 2018

Clos L’Église has a well-documented story to tell, one that is intertwined with that of its neighbours, in particular Château L’Église-Clinet. This much is documented in detail in my profile, which I first published back in 2009 (I have, of course, updated and expanded it since those first few words). Despite more than two hundred years of history, there are not many families associated with the estate; indeed, there are just three significant players. First, there was the Rouchut family, the originators of the estate in the early years of the 19th century. Second, there came the Moreau brothers, who held the reins here during the latter part of the 20th century. Third, and perhaps most significant of all, came the modern-day proprietors, Hélène Garcin-Lévêque and her husband, Patrice.

It was in 1997 that the Moreau brothers sold Clos L’Église, perhaps to pay off inheritance taxes when their parents bequeathed them both this property and their other domaine, Château Plince. The buyer was none other than Sylviane Garcin-Cathiard, the sister of Daniel Cathiard, today best known for his tenure (with his wife, Florence) of Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte in Pessac-Léognan. Sylviane paid a cool €12 million for the domaine, the price driven up by competition from the Moueix family, who had long been involved in distributing the wines. And so began the modern era for this domaine. Control of this (and a number of other domaines acquired by the family) was subsequently turned over to Sylviane’s daughter and son-in-law, Hélène (pictured below) and Patrice Garcin-Lévêque, and it is they who remain in charge here today.

Clos L'Église

In January 2018 I was able to taste through twenty vintages of Clos L’Église, poured by Hélène. We started with the 1997 vintage, their first ever on the domaine, and continued without a break up to the 2016 vintage, a barrel sample scheduled for bottling in July 2018. This is a report on that tasting, looking at both the wines, and the approach taken to viticulture and winemaking by Hélène and Patrice.

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