Looking for Signs at Feytit Clinet

by Chuck Hayward

Looking for Signs at Feytit Clinet

Post by Chuck Hayward | June 5th, 2012

JJ Buckley's Andrew Frieden spending some QT with Feytit Clinet

One of the advantages of spending a full week in Bordeaux at en primeur is the luxury one has to get to know a wine. Any other time of year, that would come through a winery visit, hanging out with the owner or winemaker, kicking the dirt, tasting through some barrel samples or older vintages. But, that is hard to do at en primeur. There, I relish the opportunity to taste a wine more than once. It really helps to taste a wine twice, three times, though four times is probably ideal. Call it statistics. You get a real sense of what the wine is all about after you have sampled it a few times.

So it was with Feytit Clinet, as we had a chance to taste the 2011 for the first time with Jeffrey Davies who is consulting with the estate, then once again at the Rive Droite tasting, where we had more quiet time to spend with the wine. It was then that we started to notice intriguing nuances in the wine that we hadn’t quite picked up on the first time. We tried it once more, perhaps too quickly at a negociant, but it wasn’t enough time to really pin down what it was that made the Feytit Clinet stand out. Then I found out we would have one more opportunity to taste it at the winery....where I hoped we could find a telltale sign that would best explain the wine’s mystique.

Attempting to decipher the "signs" in the wine

So out we went on a crisp cool morning looking for a sign. Well, we saw the street sign. No winery sign. Then we looked for other signs... There was a sign for Clinet, that wasn't right. Then we looked for more signs: workers in the vineyards, somebody starting the day's work in the cellar, or a fancy car in a parking lot (we were looking for the owner after all). Pretty quiet on that front as well. We called for a sign... no reception. Finally, a thin figure wondered out towards the middle of the road from a non-descript building we had passed a few times. At last, a sign!!

The Chasseuil family has owned this small (16 acres) domaine for some time and from 1966, the Moueix negociant arm (operated by Jean-Pierre Moueix, brother of Christian Moueix of Dominus) made the wines and sold them into the market until 2000. In that year, Jeremy Chasseuil, following stints at Gazin and Clos des Jacobins, took over the reins of the property and began to fashion the wines in his vision.

Getting to know Jeremy Chasseuil (right) and his wine

With vineyards surrounded by some of the top names in Pomerol (think Clinet and Latour a Pomerol), the grapes don't have far to travel before arriving at the very small old farm building with old cement fermenters and a smattering of new stainless steel tanks. Planted to a classic mix of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc, Jeremy has slowly begun to renovate the winery while building a reputation as an unsung producer of Pomerol. It was certainly not on my radar until we immersed ourselves in his 2011s.

What struck us in meeting Jeremy was how much the wines fit his personality. It is a trait that can be seen the world over, wines reflecting their maker. Jeremy is quiet and precise in his words - one gets the sense that he is very focused on the task at hand. The 2011 samples we tried mirrored him perfectly. Here was Pomerol in a classic style: focused and precise, with intense flavors that avoided making an overbearing statement. A purity of fruit at the core supported by mineral laced tannins. What struck me was the balance and persistence of his wine, the pinpoint combination of fruit and structure. And it resonated not only for me but for most of the JJ Buckley staff as well.

Jeremy with JJ Buckley staff

And after meeting Jeremy, I understood a facet about his wine that had haunted me all week, a quality that separates good wines from great ones. Each time I tried it, I wanted to know more about the winery and the man who made it. This was a cerebral wine, one that required more introspective use of all the senses. And it struck me that this will not be the only time I try this wine. It's on my radar now. It should be on yours.