Chateau Clos Fourtet
|Listed Wines||Clos Fourtet|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||5,000 cases|
|Classification||Premier Grand Cru Classe ‘B’|
|Second Wine||Closerie de Fourtet|
|Interesting Fact||The estate was formerly a military base, a history reflected in its original name, Camfourtet, meaning “camp fort”.|
Philippe Cuvelier has proved he has the determination and the resources to fully exploit the potential of this Saint-Emilion estate, as well as the good sense to keep on estate manager Tony Ballu and winemaker Daniel Alard. He could not have been better rewarded than he was by the 2009 vintage, a watershed for Clos Fourtet. The first ever 100-point wine created here, it led Robert Parker to call it “one of the greatest young Bordeaux I have ever tasted”. The only other Saint-Emilion producer to get a perfect score in this ‘vintage of the century’ was GCCA ranked neighbour Pavie, which with a higher price tag does not offer anywhere near the value of Clos Fourtet.
Following the publication of Parker’s scores for the 2009 vintage, prices for Clos Fourtet’s operation shot up, almost doubling to £156 per bottle within a month - and they have continued to grow at a sustainable rate since. Recent vintages have appreciated in value by more than 14% overall since the beginning of 2012, and figures reveal Clos Fourtet to be a consistently reliable investment- in a difficult climate, all vintages from 1999-2009 have shown a profit, an indicator that success for Clos Fourtet is here to stay.
Today Clos Fourtet is one of the most exciting wine producers in Bordeaux, producing a critically-praised, opulent wine displaying freshness and purity with rich fruit and spicy aromatics. The 2009 vintage has been praised as a transcendental wine, which belied its classification as a Grand Cru Classe ‘B’ and outperformed the offerings of nearby GCCA-ranked estates Angelus, Ausone and Cheval Blanc. The wine continues to show an upward price trend and is a perfect candidate for medium to long-term investment as it displays a wonderful potential for ageing and will be forever remembered for being a vital milestone in the history of Clos Fourtet, an estate that is truly going places.
“After tasting it three times from bottle, I am convinced this prodigious wine is one of the greatest young Bordeaux I have ever tasted. Inky blue/purple with notes of camphor, forest floor, blackberry, cassis, sweet cherries, licorice, the wine has stunning aromatics, unctuous texture and an almost inky concentration, but without any hard edges. With considerable tannin and just enough acidity to provide definition, this wine transcends even its premier grand cru classe terroir. It is certainly the finest Clos Fourtet ever produced. Give it 5-7 years of cellaring to allow some of its baby fat to fall away. There is certainly enough structure underneath to keep for 30-50 years. Bravo!”
Robert Parker Jr. (100 points)
With a history as a military base, the estate was previously known as Camfourtet (“Camp Fort”) and is one of the few walled clos vineyards in Saint-Emilion. Its name was changed by the Rulleau family who brought viticulture here in the mid-18th century. The 20th century history of Clos Fourtet begins with the Ginestet family, who purchased in in 1919, but sold it not long after in exchange for a 40% holding in First-Growth Chateau Margaux.
Thus Clos Fourtet was in the hands of the Lurtons, who brought their expertise to bear on the property, increasing the ratio of Merlot which was better suited to the terroir and rebuilding the chai. Despite having made such valuable investments, they sold the estate in 2001, reportedly for more than £40 million, with Pierre Lurton going on to work for LMVH at Chateaux Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem. Philippe Cuvelier, the new owner was a self-made Parisian stationery magnate who sold his company in order to fund both the purchase and a no-expense-spared attitude to management. The quality of the wines has increased in real terms under his tenure at the property, culminating in 2009 with the estate’s first ‘perfect’ 100-RPJ point wine, a major milestone.
Chateau Clos Fourtet Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Clos Fourtet
After tasting it three times from bottle, I am convinced this prodigious wine is one of the greatest young Bordeaux I have ever tasted. Inky blue/purple with notes of camphor, forest floor, blackberry, cassis, sweet cherries, licorice, the wine has stunning aromatics, unctuous texture and an almost inky concentration, but without any hard edges. With considerable tannin and just enough acidity to provide definition, this wine transcends even its premier grand cru classe terroir. It is certainly the finest Clos Fourtet ever produced. Give it 5-7 years of cellaring to allow some of its baby fat to fall away. There is certainly enough structure underneath to keep for 30-50 years. Bravo! From my barrel score of 95-98, I suppose I should have seen this perfect score coming, particularly considering what proprietor Philippe Cuvelier and estate manager Tony Ballu have accomplished over the last decade. This is one of the great terroirs of St.-Emilion, nearly 50 acres high on the clay beds and deep limestone plateau of the region, just a stone’s throw from the luxury hotel and restaurant Hostellerie de Plaisance. Yields were moderate at 34 hectoliters per hectare, and the final blend is 88% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon (somewhat unusual) and the rest Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in 80% new oak.
The wine has an opaque blue/black color and abundant notes of forest floor, spring flowers, black raspberry and blueberry liqueur in the aromatics along with hints of espresso and white chocolate. The wine is dense, full, rich, unctuously textured and very full-bodied, with its extravagant glycerin, fruit and extract covering the wine’s somewhat tannic structure. This is a bigger, more restrained and structured wine than the outrageously flamboyant and prodigious 2009. Give it 5-8 years of cellaring and drink it over the following 30-40 years. This property has been on fire, qualitatively speaking, for well over a decade. Another compelling effort from the Cuvelier family, the 2010 Clos Fourtet is a blend of 87% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc that came in at 14.5% alcohol. Yields were modest at 31 hectoliters per hectare. The harvest was late, starting at the very end of September and not finishing until the beginning of the third week of October.
Clos Fourtet is on a roll, having produced a stunning wine in 2003, and an even more brilliant effort in 2005. Stephane Derenoncourt, the consulting oenologist, has plenty with which to work given the fact that this is a relatively large vineyard (50 acres) planted with 85% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc as well as a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The inky/blue/purple-colored 2005 boasts an exceptional perfume of acacia flowers, blackberry and blueberry liqueur, graphite, scorched earth, and background oak. The wine possesses a full-bodied texture and abundant quantities of stunningly pure black fruits. The result is a sumptuous St.-Emilion of great concentration, intensity, and overall balance. This prodigious effort looks set for 25-30 years of evolution. Utterly awesome!
This estate has come back strongly under new ownership, and the quality of the wines now exhibits the tremendous potential of this extraordinary terroir on the limestone plateau just outside the walls of St.-Emilion. Sampled three times from bottle, the 2003 Clos Fourtet is the finest wine I have ever tasted from this estate. Made in a full-bodied, extravagantly rich style, it is just beginning to close down, but it is easy to see the layers of concentrated black cherry, plum, and licorice-infused fruit. There is also a subtle hint of charcoal as well as loads of mineral, flower, blackberry, and creme de cassis characteristics. This full-flavored, opulent, glycerin-filled 2003 offers impressive richness, silky tannin, and a long, 45+ second finish. It will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age, and drink well for two decades or more.
The 2012 Clos Fourtet was cropped at 32 hectoliters per hectare and achieved 14% natural alcohol. The final blend was 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. It offers an opaque dense purple color along with attractive blackberry, licorice, truffle and cassis fruit notes. It is full-bodied and dense with an authoritative mid-palate, sweet tannin and a layered mouthfeel that builds incrementally into a stunningly long finish. Precocious and charming already, it will drink better at an earlier age than the massive, prodigious 2009. Drink this killer St.-Emilion over the next 15+ years. One can't say enough about proprietor Cuvelier's 50-acre vineyard that has witnessed a profound transformation of quality over the last decade or more. Moreover, Cuvelier recently purchased three neighboring estates that are consistently reviewed positively in this publication, Les Grandes Murailles, Clos St.-Martin and Cote Baleau. These were previously owned by Sophie Fourcade. Interestingly, since these three properties are adjacent or close to Clos Fourtet, I would not be surprised if over the next decade they become incorporated into Clos Fourtet. Another great success for Cuvelier and his estate manager, Tony Ballu.
This is another brilliant offering from Philippe Cuvelier, who has totally revolutionized the quality of this famous estate. The 2011 Clos Fourtet exhibits a dense blue/purple color as well as beautiful notes of creme de cassis, blueberries and raspberries, a complete as well as layered mid-palate, sweet tannin, good acidity and a charming personality. This is a highly successful effort for the vintage. Consume it over the next 10-12 years.
The first offering in what turned out to be a remarkable decade for this property, the 2000 Clos Fourtet was the finest wine produced here in many years, but it was subsequently eclipsed by the 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2009. The dense plum/purple-tinged 2000 exhibits notes of wet rocks, camphor, blackberries, and cassis. Full-bodied with tremendous density, it appears to have shed much of its tannin, and is through its adolescent stage. It should continue to evolve effortlessly for another decade.
Clos Fourtet has produced a succession of brilliant wines since 2003. While the 2006 may not equal the prodigious 2005, it possesses a dark ruby/purple hue as well as sweet notes of creme de cassis, spring flowers, new oak, and a steely/mineral-like nuance in the background. Attractive, plump, opulent fruit on the palate is followed by a slight narrowing, but the finish is strong, with moderate tannin. Consume this beauty between 2008-2016.
A strong effort, the 2008 was made from tiny yields of 28.5 hectoliters per hectare, and attained 14% natural alcohol. It reveals sweet licorice, black currant and blackberry fruit notes intermixed with truffle and asphalt characteristics in its pure, rich, opulent, full-bodied personality. One of the finest St.-Emilions of the vintage, it is far more accessible than the 2010 and should continue to drink well for 15-20 years.
An up and coming estate in the St.-Emilion firmament thanks to a new owner, the 2001 Clos Fourtet appears to be even better than the 2000. Aromas of blackberries, camphor, and sweet toasty oak emerge from this medium to full-bodied, heady, seductive, rich, luscious St.-Emilion. Loaded with fruit and extract, there is not a hard edge to be found in this beautifully textured, plump, sexy offering. Enjoy it over the next 12-14 years.