Wine connoisseurs and professionals around the world will tell you that there is something special about the elegant wines from of Saint Émilion; there is no doubt that year after year, some of the best wines in the entire region of Bordeaux are produced by many of the esteemed Saint Émilion estates. Today's offer comes from one of the lesser known estates—Clos St. Martin, the smallest of all classified estates in the region, at 1.33 hectares (about 3 acres). Their 2004 Saint Émilion Grand Cru, produced undery Sophie Fourcade of the famous Rieffers family, is a classic example of Saint Émilion. At ten years of age, the richness of texture, elegance of tannins, and concentration of this vintage's fruit and minerality tastes unbelievably perfect at the moment.
Although Clos St. Martin was recently sold to the Cuvelier family in 2013, Sophie Fourcade has maintained a partnership with the estate and continues to work under the direction of Cuvelier. The vintage we are offering today was fully produced under her direction and represents a classic expression of Clos St. Martin's unique terroir. The estate is located on the limestone plateau of Saint Martin, very nearby to the St. Martin Church and the ancient medieval village of Saint Émilion. The small plot of vineyard land is planted to Merlot (70%), Cabernet Franc (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), in clay and limestone soils. Production at this acclaimed estate is incredibly small, nearly 500 cases annually, which makes their wines very exclusive and often difficult to find at affordable prices—especially at this age. We have only acquired a very small portion of this limited vintage and know that it will sell out fast because the quality far exceeds its price. The opulent quality of this particular bottling is a beautiful reflection of the classic terroir of Saint Émilion; the clay and limestone soils impart fabulous minerality and classic varietal characteristics are cultivated so they shine in the glass. The aromatics and palate are sensuous with the kind of desirable richness that can only be found in the best Bordeaux, after it has been aged at least a decade. I cannot stress how true it is that Bordeaux begins to hit a sweet spot of drinkability at ten years of age. The 2004 Saint Émilion from Clos St. Martin will please the palate of any Bordeaux lover if opened now, but if cellared further for another decade to come, it will develop to possess even more complexity, structure and flavor.
The 2004 Clos St. Martin Saint Émilion Grand Cru has a dark crimson core moving to deep garnet and orange reflections on the rim—showing quite a bit of age. The aromas reveal mature Bordeaux dried fruit and earthy aromas of red currant, red plums, potpourri, dried leather, tobacco leaf, cedar and wet gravel. The palate is rich with texture and shows concentrated flavors of red cherry, tobacco, dried flowers, dried herbs and a very fine white stone minerality. This wine really needs a lot of air; for the first 45 minutes, the wine is closed, but it begins to open up at the hour mark and really hits its stride. If you open and pour this wine immediately, you will be disappointed, please decant for 60-90 minutes and serve at about 65 degrees from a large Bordeaux stem. This wine has quite a bit of sediment, so the easiest approach is to stand the wine up 24-48 hours before decanting; make sure to pour slowly to prevent any solids going into the decanter. I would pair this wine with a Filet Mignon, cut thick and served rare, with herb-roasted potatoes and butter-sautéed vegetables of your choice. If you can find some Burgundy truffles to shave on the Filet (they are in season and not too pricey), and add a touch a melted butter over the top, you will be in a good place—I promise you.