It was February 2017 and I was on my way to Dubai from Munich. Little did I know that aboard the flight was a bottle that was simply perfect. While I had enjoyed many vintages of Climens I had never tried the ’05 Chateau Climens. I tasted the wine at 30,000 feet and was absolutely amazed — I was at a loss for words. I got that same incredible feeling last weekend when I had the opportunity to revisit what I consider to be one of the best wines I’ve ever enjoyed in my lifetime.
One of the famed estates in Barsac, Chateau Climens has gained a worldwide reputation for producing top notch Sauternes. The chateau is located on the left bank of the Garonne, in Graves region in the south-west of Bordeaux, The Grands Crus from Sauternes and Barsac were classified in 1855 at the same time as the Grands Crus from Médoc. Château Climens belongs to the First Classed Growths of 1855.
Within the Sauternes appellation, the small village of Barsac is primarily set on limestone soils which yields a wonderful freshness and balance to the wines. Chateau Clemens estate is a 30 hectares property situated on the appellation’s highest land where limestone outcrops are abundant. At the helm since 1992 has been their superstar winemaker Berenice Lurton. She is a master at capturing incredible balance in her wines. Even in warm vintages her wines are never overripe or cloying. She is truly one of the great winemakers of the world.
Recently I had the chance to review a long vertical of her wines, from the 2000 vintage to the 2013 vintage. There were many wines that stood out in the tasting and I was hugely impressed with the 2003 Chateau Climens (WWB, 96) which is going strong and has an exceedingly long life ahead of it. This wine showed remarkable balance considering the heat of the vintage. The 2007 Chateau Climens (WWB, 97) is a truly epic effort. Already nicely evolved, this wine shows serious richness and weight, with a near minute-long finish. I was blown away with the 2010 Chateau Climens (WWB, 96) which needs more time in the bottle to develop but shows impeccable balance and wonderful range and terroir. I wouldn’t touch this beautiful wine for five plus years. The 2005 Chateau Climens (WWB, 100) is truly perfection in a bottle and is the only wine I have scored 100 points this year. The combination of terroir, viscosity, range and tension is simply unparalleled. Words cannot describe how good this wine is. Learn more about this compelling estate in the Bordeaux region at http://www.chateau-climens.fr/en/
2000 Chateau Climens- Taken from what was a challenging vintage in Sauternes, the wine shows musty aromas of wild mushroom, peat moss with honeyed ginger. The palate lacks freshness but shows good richness. Ginger, ripe pineapple and vanilla creme brûlée flavors combine nicely. This is towards the end of this nearly twenty year old wine that finishes strong with creme brulee. Drink 2018-2022- 90
2003 Chateau Climens- Showing off a golden hue, this warm vintage Chateau Climens starts off with wonderful honey, white peach, vanilla creme brûlée and candied pineapple. The palate shows remarkable poise, showcasing ripe lychee, pineapple upside down cake, candied ginger and apricot jelly all come together remarkably in the glass. The balance is insanely good as there is a seamless quality that glides through the mid-palate Linear and focused, this is a simply stunning wine that still has a long life ahead of it. Drink 2018-2045- 96
2004 Chateau Climens- Taken from what was generally a challenging vintage in Sauternes the wine shows bright pear, nectarine and roasted pineapple with vanilla cream on the nose with hints of nutmeg. The palate shows good richness and tension, unveiling candied ginger, white peach, ripe pineapple and apricot cream flavors. Seriously good considering the vintage, this great Sauternes is still going strong at 14 years of age. Drink 2018-2030- 92
2005 Chateau Climens- The 2005 Chateau Climens is a simply astounding Sauternes. Showing off its golden hue, the wine starts off with an intense bouquet of vanilla creme brulee, honeyed ginger, roasted pineapple and suggestions of butterscotch. The nose is so compelling and complex that it makes you constantly go back to the glass for more. The palate is exceedingly good. Honeyed ginger, lemon curd, vanilla creme brulee, apricot jelly, macadamia nut and butterscotch. The range to this wine is just insanely good as the texture of this wine borders ethereal. Stunning, captivating and simply marvelous, this is a perfect wine made by Chateau Climens and superstar winemaker Berenice Lurton. Drink 2018-2055- 100
2006 Chateau Climens- The nose is quite captivating with vanilla creme brulee, apricot, nutmeg and bananas foster. The palate shows wonderful tension and freshness with bananas foster, vanilla cream and apricot flavors. Downright delicious now, this still has a long life ahead of it. The balance and poise here is seriously good. Drink 2018-2035- 93
2007 Chateau Climens- Taken from a near perfect vintage in Sauternes, the 2007 Chateau Climens is a show-stopping effort. The nose strikes up ripe lychee, pineapple upside down cake and nutmeg infused bananas foster, showing an exotic edge. The palate shows tremendous weight and poise, carrying an unctuous character. Ripe pineapple, nutmeg, lychee and candied mango creme brûlée flavors all marvelously combine. Impeccably balanced, this shows marvelously right now but has an exceedingly long life ahead of it. Drink 2020-2055- 97
2010 Chateau Climens- The 2010 Chateau Climens by Berenice Lurton is a stunning wine. On the nose there is ripe peach, butterscotch, candied mango and Meyer lemon creme brulee. The palate shows a marvelous texture and viscosity. Seamless and beautifully balanced, this elegant Sauternes unveils bananas foster, quince, vanilla cream and roasted pineapple. The near minute long finish accentuates this delicious wine. While it has evolved nicely after eight years, the wine needs more time to fully develop. Drink 2022-2055- 96
2011 Chateau Climens- The 2011 Chateau Climens is a stunning effort from this exciting vintage in Sauternes. The nose shows a really good range from nutmeg to lemon cream to wild mushroom. The mouthfeel entices as the wine shows beautiful balance and complexity. There is a seamless quality that races through this wine. Butterscotch, lemon creme brulee, bananas foster and candied ginger flavors all marvelously come together on the palate. Fresh and showing really good tension, try to resist this great wine for at least another five plus years. Drink 2025-2050- 94
2011 Chateau Climens ‘Cypres de Climens’ Sauternes- This is the second wine of Chateau Climens. On the nose this wine takes on forward aromas of apricot jelly, vanilla cream and ripe pineapple. The palate is forward, showing really good freshness and weight. Pineapple upside down cake and bananas foster are at the forefront as the wine shows a seriously good mouthfeel. This is a stunning wine that competes with many Sauternes houses first wines by the talented Berenice Lurton. Drink 2018-2030- 92
2013 Chateau Climens- The 2013 Chateau Climens is a seriously good wine. On the nose the wine shows butterscotch, Meyer lemon zest and nutmeg with hints of ginger. The palate shows wonderful freshness and intensity. The citrus component to the wine is really shining brightly. Meyer lemon creme brulee, white peach and butterscotch with hints of ginger really impress. The wine is showing marvelously but really needs time to further develop. Drink 2025-2050- 95