|Here are two clarets of excellent provenance that you should know about, which we hope will soon be available in the country, Château Clauset and Château de Côme from Saint-Estèphe. Baron Maurice Velge of Château Clauset was in Delhi in April when I had the privilege of meeting him soon after returning from the en primeur tastings in Bordeaux.
Château Clauset and Château de Côme are two wines that complement each other very well.
|“Château Clauset is very much a structured wine with body and complexity. What we call a deep wine, which will improve over many, many years, but can also be drunk now. We make wines that can last,” he said, “otherwise they are not great wines. This wine is good for laying down, while Château de Côme which is close to reaching its optimum level with fruity elegance and finesse is ideal for daily drinking.
Regarding the recent vintage, Baron Velge said that because of uncertain weather conditions those who weren’t alert enough lost 25% to 50% of their crop. “But those like us, who were following the problem with attention, were able to protect their crop and bring it to perfect condition for the harvest.
“The typical chocolate, black fruit and spice aromas of Saint Estèphe wines were milder and softer in 2007. In fact, my wines are extremely suitable for Indian and oriental food. Every time we have had Indian food it has been a challenge for my wines but they have always come out very well.”
For Belgian-born Baron Maurice Velge, the Château Clauzet adventure is an old dream come true.
“My father had a network of friends in Bordeaux that I naturally was a part of,” he writes. “The world of wine had always attracted me, so when the chance came along to live my passion, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Having initially bought 10 hectares in 1997, Baron Velge subsequently acquired additional plots of prime land. The estate today has grown progressively to 30 hectares, 27 of which produce wine in the best locations in Saint-Estèphe.
Baron Velge is assisted in the vineyard and in winemaking by highly experienced winemaker and manager, Jose Bueno who had previously worked at Châteaux Mouton-Rothschild, Clerc Milon and D’Armailhac.
Château Clauzet as we know it today can be traced back to the 1820s, when it covered about 30 hectares and belonged to the Bernard family. The estate’s name dates from the end of the 19th century when Anne Olympe Bernard married Pierre Ulysse Clauzet and brought him a part of the original vineyard as her dowry. Chateau de Côme belonged to the de Côme spinsters in the first half of the 19th century and their name remains on the wine.
Soil types and locations (terroir)
Most of the plots that Maurice Velge bought lie along the line of small hills between Margaux and Saint-Estèphe overlooking the Gironde river from where some of the greatest Médoc wines come. Close proximity to the river combined with the nature of the surface soils are a distinct advantage. “The variety of soils in which Clauzet wines grow enables us to play with a very rich palate of nuances.
“Ageing at Château Clauzet is also crucial and is doubtless what differentiates us from the other estates.”
Château Clauzet is made up of a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), a significant proportion of Merlot (40%) with added Cabernet Franc (2%) and Petit Verdot (3%). The average age of the vines is high (between 30 and 40 years). According to Jose Bueno the old vines are their most valuable asset. “It is vital for us to preserve the genetic heritage of our vines.
“ We spend a lot of time in the vines, because everything starts there. We never take a systematic decision, which does not stem from something we’ve seen in the vineyard. Vines are incredible plants. If you look after them properly, they really pay you back.”
And so they did, even in the problematic 2007 vintage, because of the care lavished on them at Château Clauzet.
— Reva K. Singh