Prince Robert of Luxembourg is the great grandson of Clarence Dillon, an American financier who purchased Château Haut-Brion in the 1930s, later adding Château La Mission Haut-Brion to his portfolio.
Prince Robert is the man in charge of Clarence Dillon today, but rather than rest on his laurels, he has launched a new mid-priced wine Bordeaux ‘brand’ called Clarendelle, consisting of white, red, rosé and sweet Bordeaux wines. Prince Robert says of these new wines: “We believe that wine lovers are seeking names that they can trust which offer an alternative to existing ‘new world brands’. Clarendelle offers an old world response to a new world creation, Premium Brand Wines.
“Clarendelle’s style and structure represent elegance, complexity and balance. Clarendelle strives for ‘tipicitée’ or a style representative of its roots. Our wines are the fruits of an ‘assemblage’ which mirror the marriages of grape varietals found in our estate wines. As is the case for all of our chateaux, Clarendelle’s characteristics will vary somewhat from vintage to vintage. But then, that is the prerogative of Mother Nature! It will be the responsibility of our wine-makers to assure the regularity of Clarendelle’s quality and style while producing blends that are true to their vintage.”
At time of writing there is no confirmed distribution for Clarendelle in the UK.
Tél (+33) 0 556 955 350 / Fax (+33) 0 556 955 356
Clarendelle (France) Bordeaux Blanc 2005
Clarendelle Blanc is a typical blend for the region of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, about 60 per cent Semillon in this case. It has a very pale gold colour, and subtle, fresh nose of peaches and pear, with a little floral note and just a hint of a mealy richness. On the palate it is medium-bodied with a deal of quite punchy white fruit flavours, and a dry, quite mineral acidity running through it. This is very restrained and grown-up in style, with minimal oak influence and a food-friendly, savoury quality.
Clarendelle (France) Bordeaux Rosé 2005
This Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend has a vivid pink hue, and an attractively floral nose of Parma violets and roses, with raspberry fruit. On the palate there is real structure to this wine, not just from its acid framework, but from supple background tannins and a hint of spice. The fruit is keen-edged but ripe and generous, with flavours of summer berries. A composed and elegant wine that could also be cellared for a year or two.
Clarendelle (France) Bordeaux Rouge 2003
All temperature records were broken by Bordeaux’s weather in 2003, and this blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc shows plenty of deep, mulberry and spiced plum ripeness. There is a hint of coffee and of stewed prunes, and a chocolaty depth. On the palate this is rich and mouthfilling, with a savoury character and plummy fruit. The tannins are sandy and dry, and acidity is well balanced. There’s a nice rounded, fleshy mid-palate here, and the spice and tobacco richness fills in on the finish.
Clarendelle (France) Monbazillac Amberwine 2003
Clarendelle’s 50cl bottle of ‘Amberwine’ is very attractively presented in a cream-coloured cardboard tube, and is a blend of late-harvest and Botrytis grapes from the Monbazillac region, a very traditional blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. It has a pale yellow colour (which will become increasingly amber with cellaring), and an immediately alluring nose of dried apricots, marmalade and honey. There is a gentle, floral character too, and a hint of beeswax. On the palate it has lovely verve and freshness, with plenty of rich, opulent pineapple and nectarine fruit nicely balanced by a sense of mineral acidity. This is a very seamless wine, with a long finish, that is already delicious but will cellar for a decade or more.