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Chateau Feytit-Clinet 2000 to 2006, HKWS

Last night’s Chateau Feytit Clinet 2000 to 2006 tasting gave excellent value. That was a vertical tasting of analysing the improvement in quality since this change. Pre-dinner wine was an interesting Thomas Freres AC Bourgogone 1994. Unbelievable: that bottle was still surviving. The dinner wines were Chateau La Bouscat 1989 Pessac Leognan and Chateau Bel-Air 1999 Pomerol.

Back to the core wines. The Chateau is located close to Chateau Clinet, Latour a Pomerol and Clos L’Eglise. The earliest mentions of Chateau Feytit Clinet date all the way back to 1825, when it was owned by a member of the de Gombault family. By 1964, the estate entered into a lease and management agreement with Ets. Moueix that lasted until 2000. At that point in time the Chasseuil family once again took control of Chateau Feytit Clinet and began to change things for the better at this Pomerol property and their wines.

The best Chateau Feytit Clinet of the event went to 2005 and 2004, followed by 2006, 2000, 2001, 2003 and lastly 2002.

Neal Martin has done a great review of the vintages in his Pomerol book, so there is no need for my views.

Behind the Book: Chateau Feytit-Clinet 1964-2005, Neal Martin The chapter on Chateau Feytit-Clinet was the most complicated to write and in retrospect the most bowdlerised (and trust me, I kept that to the very minimum.) I entered into a long, fascinating telephone conversation with proprietor Michel Chasseuil one weekday morning. Unfortunately only about two minutes of our hour-long chat was printable without fear of being sued. Much stemmed from the acrimonious dispute regarding ownership of the estate that was settled in 2000 and allegations concerning the deprivation of its elderly former proprietor, Mary Domergue. I never wanted the book to invite rumour or speculation, especially one that I was unable to corroborate, therefore I printed everything that I felt certain to be true and left the past in the past. Still, I was fascinated by Feytit-Clinet, whose recent wines had won much praise under present winemaker, Jeremy Chasseuil. My interest was piqued further during a trip to Germany when I met an MW who regaled vintages that he bought directly from the chateau many years ago, a bounty of vintages spanning the 1920s to the 1950s. He was not the only person who ranked these ancient wines amongst the finest he had tasted from Pomerol. Yet tracing them now is all but impossible. The tasting I conducted with Jeremy on a bitterly cold December morning brought home the isolation, the nothingness and the ennui that can envelop Pomerol out of season. This informed the opening paragraph: a reminder that wine regions are not always smiling harvesters under blue skies; but frosty, foggy, freezing days of solitude cutting away the deadwood trying and failing to raise one’s spirits. I found Jeremy to be a modest winemaker, quite frank in conversation, the resentment of having to fight for a property that his family felt was rightfully theirs still simmering just below the surface, whilst simultaneously acknowledging that there is no point dwelling on the past. He now has the keys. The history was actually quite complicated to piece together, even though one hopes it does not read that way. The various members of the Domergue family were difficult to untangle, especially divining the reason how 50% of the property came to be owned by the local authorities after the passing of Rene in the 1970s. It took several e-mail exchanges between Jeremy and myself to reach the correct version. When the book was published in December, I had only the vicarious bon mots from others to go on. So I must thank Joss Fowler for proffering a bottle of Chateau Feytit-Clinet 1964 for lunch in May, a bottle that testified the quality of older vintages that is being reproduced in post-millennial releases. Perhaps one day I will be afforded the opportunity to taste the likes of 1947, 1950 or 1961. Somehow, I feel I will not get to really know this cru until that comes to pass. For now, I can enjoy Jeremy Chasseuil’s wines that are great value and often stupendous in quality. Tasting Notes 1964 Chateau Feytit-Clinet 92 My thanks to Joss Fowler for bringing this rare vintage of Feytit-Clinet to lunch, to date the only pre-Chasseuil era vintage I have tasted. The colour is clean and healthy, the bouquet reflecting the precocity of the growing season in Pomerol with rustic red fruit, undergrowth, mulchy aromas, wild mushroom in the background but all well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with fleshy tannins and good weight in the mouth. Rounded with no hard edges, this is a joy to drink and actually improves in the glass. It is an old school Pomerol with what feels like a higher proportion of Cabernet, leaving the finish nicely structured with leather and dried herb infused, quite masculine finish. This 64 still has plenty to offer. Tasted May 2013. 1999 Chateau Feytit-Clinet ? Slight corked on the nose, but even so, the palate seems rather hard and missing the requisite fruit concentration for the vintage. Tasted September 2010. 2004 Chateau Feytit-Clinet 88 Tasted at the chateau with proprietor Jeremy Chasseuil. The 2004 has a rounded nose with ripe wild strawberry, redcurrant, blueberries with a touch of wild hedgerow: very Burgundian. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly grainy texture, nice acidity, here, good backbone and fine tannins. Very well balanced with a good level of ripeness for a 2004 and palpable minerality towards the finish with hints of graphite on the aftertaste. Impressive. Tasted September 2010. 2005 Chateau Feytit-Clinet 92+ Tasted at the chateau with proprietor Jeremy Chasseuil. Very good intensity on the nose: blackberry, boysenberry and a touch of black plum. Good definition but certainly closed and tight fisted at the moment. The palate is full-bodied with fine tannins, very good structure and sense of minerality. Great poise and tension, with firm, chalky tannins towards the linear finish that needs to soften. Give this wine 5-6 years. Excellent. Tasted September 2010.
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