Denis Durantou is famed for his wonderful Pomerol estate, Chateau L'Eglise Clinet, but he has spread his wings to St Emilion, Lalande de Pomerol and Castillon, and it is perhaps in these communes that he has best demonstrated his Midas touch. Year after year, the likes of La Chenade and Montlandrie have topped our best value poll, and now we are seeing Saintayme and Cruzelles appearing there too. This 100% Merlot cuvee from a 9 hectare plot offers intense fruit pastel aromas, fine herbs, black cherries with a hint of sandalwood and liquorice. It is mighty impressive with a big juicy core of fruit and a deep, gravelly, earthy minerality. There is plenty of intensity to the fruit, a good sappy quality, and really suave tannins. Bravo.
From Denis Durantou of Chateau L'Eglise Clinet, Saintayme is from a parcel of 35 year old Merlot vines in Saint Etienne de Lisse.
St-Émilion is a very different region to those of the Médoc, dominated by small-holding farmers and estates rather than grand Châteaux. Merlot is widely planted as is Cabernet Franc in some parts. The wines are enormously variable in style depending on the terroir, the grape variety make-up and winemaking style. Loosely the region is divided between the limestone Côtes, Graves or gravelly limestone plateau or the sandy alluvial soils nearer the Dordogne. Traditionally Médoc wines were trade from Bordeaux and St Emilions from Libourne so they have their own classification system separate to that of 1855. The classification is revised every ten years and falls into four categories, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé and St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Most of the district's best properties are either on the steep, clay-limestone hillsides immediately below the town or on a gravelly section of the plateau west of St Emilion itself abutting Pomerol. There are several high profile estates in the region, including Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac, Le Dôme, Valandraud and Pavie.