2010 Clos de Sarpe Saint Emilion – “Quintessential Blockbuster”

Ancient, Historical Clos de Sarpe

Just north east of Saint Emilion’s city center in the heart of the region’s Sarpe zone, Chateau Clos de Sarpe has been owned by Jean-Guy Beyney’s family for three generations. Originally held by the Baron du Foussat de Bogeron until 1923, this is one of the smallest properties in the zone, totaling just under 4ha (roughly 12 acres). Tasting the wines here is a step back in time; a lesson in profound, historical exuberance.

Every aspect of the estate pays homage to and reflects the characteristics of ancestral times in Saint Emilion. In tasting the recent releases – in particular the ravishing, brooding 2010 – Parker informs us that these are

“…Wines that probably have more in common with the great vintages of the late 1800’s than anything produced today.”

Current proprietor, third generation Jean-Guy Beyney manages a unique terroir, a crumbling, thin layer of clay resting atop deep layers of limestone. Today, the youngest vines – 70% of the vineyard – average nearly 80 years of age, the balance of the estate’s vines are approaching 95 years of age.

With this age and the density of plantings, Clos de Sarpe is consistently massive, a

“… Pedal-to-the-metal … sort of wine”

… as Robert Parker has told us in past reviews. The 2010 is one I’ve always loved in blind tastings. It’s one of the most thrilling, confounding, complex, hard to define, yet exciting throwbacks you’ll ever encounter. The vintage has yet to be toppled, so if you come across a few bottles, add them to your cellar, as have I.

2010 Clos de Sarpe

The 2010 Clos de Sarpe is deep garnet-purple in color with a profound, very youthful nose of blackcurrant cordial, warm plums and blueberry pie with hints of chocolate box, roses, star anise and cigar box plus a beautifully fragrant waft of lilacs. Full-bodied, rich, opulent and oh-so-seductive, it has a firm frame of grainy tannins and explosive freshness to lend an electric charge through the mid-palate and epically long finish. Amazing wine.

98 points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

I have always loved to taste this wine, because it comes from a tiny, nearly 12-acre property owned by Jean-Guy Beyney, who, I have said, before tends to go overboard making wines that probably have more in common with the great vintages of the late 1800’s than anything produced today. How long will these wines last? Certainly the great vintages are 50+ year wines. Beyney’s absurdly low yields in 2010 (15 hectoliters per hectare) have fashioned a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc that hits all the sweet spots on the palate.

96+ Robert Parker