2020 Château Saintayme en primeur is one release you really should not miss this year. At just £138 per dozen bottles in bond (equivalent to £16.48 per bottle on your table, with all taxes paid) this is a wine to fill your cellar with.
There is no more convincing argument for buying en primeur than a wine which is loved by the critics and which will offer easy enjoyment within a year or two of landing (hence can be cellared at home). Collecting Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux is an enormously pleasurable pastime, but Saintayme is a wine to enjoy on weekdays, to take to parties and to share with and introduce to friends.
Jeb Dunnuck says the 2020 "should be snatched up by savvy readers...in a vintage where Merlot excelled, it's a real standout (91-93 points). Looking back our own tasting notes, we waxed lyrical about the density and purity of fruit and the lifted acidity from the limestone terroir, before describing it as 'a paradigm of St. Emilion'. So, both enormously enjoyable and the kind of wine to show in a tasting as an example of what this commune is all about.
We have talked about the wines of Denis Durantou for some years, since he turned around the fortunes of his diminutive Pomerol estate L'Eglise Clinet, making it one of the most respected on the right bank. With just 4.5 hectares here, he then began to practice his art with a collection of other, small properties in neighbouring St.-Emilion and Lalande de Pomerol.
Saintayme, La Chenade, Les Cruzelles & Montlandrie all effectively "came from nowhere"; one of the reasons Durantou was so respected. He demonstrated, several times over, the ability to identify sites with great potential and then went on to fulfil that potential. Jane Anson wrote of him:
"The impressive thing with Denis Durantou is the accomplishment shown across his entire range and the precision of his work with tannins. These are not insubstantial wines, and here there is a richness and shape to the structure as it moves through your mouth. Black cherry fruit is accompanied by a lovely freshness and chewy but extremely well-placed tannins that hold, hold, hold, before backing off for a lift on the finish."
We have grown used to seeing his labels in our cellars and the sense that these modestly-priced wines would always deliver real excitement and a strong identity, far above their monetary value. We were very sad to hear that he had passed away suddenly last year. Not all winemakers receive an obituary in The Times. His describe him as an "intensely private perfectionist", which fits with our impression of him.
When we last visited L'Eglise Clinet in April 2019 his daughters Alix and Noémie were working closely with Denis, presenting the wines and clearly very involved in all stages of production. Along with their sister Constance, they now run the estate, with winemaker Oliver Gautrat, who worked with Durantou for twenty years.
Saintayme (known and labelled in some markets as Saintem) is from a 9-hectare parcel of vines on a long-term lease to the Durantous. A single plot of Merlot in St-Etienne-de-Lisse, the terroir here is limestone, clay and gravel, with the vines averaging 35 years of age.
Landing spring 2023.
|RED||2020||5 cases||Château Saintayme||75cl||£130 per case of 12||Château Saintayme
2020 / 5 cases / 75cl
£130 per case of 12