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"Being part of the aristocracy of Pomerol grands crus cannot be decreed. It is part of a logic and a history.
This is what Clos L’Eglise testifies to."
Taking a recent date, scarcely three quarters of a century ago, in 1925, Savinien Giraud, owner of Trotanoy and President of the Syndicat Viticole et Agricole de Pomerol, addressed a “classification” of Pomerol “grands crus” to the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. Clos L’Eglise was part of the “leading group”, (with l’Evangile, la Conseillante and Vieux Château Certan). This allows us to date the fame of Clos L’Eglise and the standing it enjoyed among its peers, members of the Syndicat.

In the 18th century, Clos L’Eglise with its 14 ha was a very large estate for Pomerol, ahead of a dozen Crus which formed and still form “the heart of Pomerol”. The history of Clos L’Eglise is linked to that of the vineyards “à Clinet”, a name that designates both place and ownership.

The vineyard map by the engineer Belleyme indicated in 1764 that the strongest vineyard holding starts from la Conseillante and by Petit-Village widens to Trop Ennuie (Trotanoy) and Clinet.

Later, the property was named Clos L’Eglise and, with divisions on inheritance, the estate was split in two, with the original estate, Clos L’Eglise (Rouchut family) on one side and Clos L’Eglise-Clinet (Mauléon family) on the other. There is, therefore, a centuries-old continuity of viticulture at Clos L’Eglise

B. Henri-Enjalbert - Les Grands Bordeaux

It was in 1997 that the Garcin-Cathiard family acquired the property.
At the mere mention of its name, this garden-like terroir inspires grandeur.
Clos l’Eglise is situated at the break in the Pomerol plateau, which is the origin of the most remarkable wines of the appellation. Nature is at work here and, given the right conditions, promises to express a masterpiece among masterpieces.

At Clos l’Eglise, the 5.90 hectares of Merlot and Cabernet Franc flourish on clay-gravel soils presenting slopes of iron-rich soil that give the wine its unique character. A place apart where things are done gently, a clear conversation between man and terroir. A jewel of nature.

Hélène Garcin and Patrice Levêque cultivate this exceptional heritage today. The vision of this enthusiastic couple has allowed Clos l’Eglise to gradually regain the place it had a century ago, at the peak of the appellation.

Their fascination for exceptional terroirs and their willingness to support them in giving the best they have to offer, here find the perfect opportunity to transcend themselves.
This is why the work is done in a traditional way because, if fine terroir comes by chance, its rarity makes it a responsibility.
" At the mere mention of its name, this garden-like terroir inspires grandeur. "
It is an incredible charmer, evoking immediate pleasure and certain seduction. When it reveals its elegance, its roundness, its opulence it pays tribute to its origins, rare and inimitable. Clos l’Eglise is a philanthropist who leaves behind, on meeting, the persistent memory of a tender emotion.
A.O.C. Pomerol
Clos l'Eglise 25 000 bottles
Surface of production 5,89 ha
Soil Clay and Gravel
Subsoil Trace of iron concretion
Grape varieties 80% Merlot - 20% Cabernet Franc
Soil culture Sustainable, Biological control, Certified High Environmental Value 3
Harvest Hand picked
Fermenting vats 55 hl stainless steel
Barrels & Ageing New french oak barrels, 18-24 months
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Bols Blue to Bordeaux: Clos l'Eglise

Many moons ago, around 1999 if I have my dates correct, I was invited to an impromptu lunch at the much-missed Hanover Bar & Grill, a rather dingy basement steakhouse that boasted decent Antipodean wines, a boisterous atmosphere and models from the Vogue head office opposite, picking at their salad. This was back in the day of long liquid lunches, when workers staggered back to their Mayfair offices and snoozed away the afternoon. A Bordeaux merchant introduced me to a young Hélène Garçin-Cathiard, then riding the crest of a wave after her 1998 Clos l’Église received a score that got her telephone ringing 24/7. Not wishing to tar all my friends in Bordeaux with the same brush, but she was different. She brimmed with joie-de-vivre, you felt that you could invite her out clubbing and she’d drink you under the table. She was a breath of fresh air and became one of the first Bordeaux proprietors I got to know well. Since then, she has hardly changed, indefatigable, feisty and funny with enough energy to solve the current fuel crisis, energy that she expends onto her properties, giving them a sense of momentum.

I visited her Saint-Émilion estate, Château Barde-Haut, last June, to conduct a comprehensive tasting of her properties together with her husband Patrice Lévêque. For this tasting we focused upon Barde-Haut, Clos l’Église and Poesia. Readers should note that their fourth property in Castillon, Château d’Arce, is well worth seeking out. Just to spice things up, the vintages were not revealed until after the tasting. 

“My first vintage was 1997,” Garçin-Lévêque tells me before broaching the first bottle. “I arrived in Bordeaux the previous year. Before that, I was at school and then I went to work in Canada. I was selling Bols Blue in clubs. I had a lot of fun. My family bought Clos l’Église at the end of 1996 and oversaw the élevage of that vintage, though we had to transfer the barrels to Haut-Bergey as we had to completely overhaul the cellar. So, the 1997 Clos l’Église was the first vintage that we made at the château.”

Hélène and Patrice Garçin-Lévêque. Notice the rare sight of a Bordeaux winemaker in work overalls instead of tailored suit.

I asked how she met her husband and became Garçin-Lévêque? Her better half is really a Burgundian at heart, one of the few winemakers you can guarantee will be upon his tractor whatever time you visit. Most Bordeaux proprietors would not know how to turn the tractor ignition on, let alone manoeuvre it through the vines for hours on end. Personality-wise they are yin and yang, her husband more laconic, a pensive winemaker who is constantly questioning his approach. Garçin-Lévêque answered my question in a typically candid fashion: “Patrice came to visit Château Haut-Bergey in 1996, and I told him ‘you need to take me out’ because his mother wanted to buy some land from us next to Chantegrive.”

Over the years, I have had many discussions with the couple about the use of consultants. In the past, they appointed Michel Rolland to assist from 1998 to 2001, Dr. Alain Reynaud until 2014 and then Thomas Duclos. But that has changed. “There are no consultants now, just Patrice,” she tells me. “It was very interesting to work with consultants, giving advice and informing what is going on around us, though they did not make final decisions. Now, we exchange ideas with many different people, but we have a clear vision of what we want to do at all our properties.

Clos l’Église lies directly opposite l’Eglise-Clinet in the heart of Pomerol. The two once comprised a single estate until its division, whereafter Clos l’Église was owned by the Rouchut family and Clos l’Église-Clinet the Mauléons before being renamed. Clos l’Église was owned by Patrice Ducher until its acquisition by Sylvaine Garçin-Cathiard, the sister of Daniel Cathiard of Smith-Haut-Lafitte, in 1997. The family already owned Haut-Bergey in Pessac-Léognan. The transaction for their Pomerol vineyard took place in January that year, and Sylvaine Garçin-Cathiard appointed her daughter to run the estate. The debut 1997 was not an easy one to start with, and to quote verbatim in my Pomerol tome: “We always take over a vineyard in a shitty vintage.”

“For me, Clos l’Église is a jewel.” Garçin-Lévêque tells me. “We are lucky to be where we are on deeper clay as some parts of Pomerol suffer during the heat. A lot has changed in recent years, though not so much in the vineyard, just replacing the Cabernet Franc with massale selection. But we plan to take out around 1.5 hectares of Merlot in the lower sector in 2022, so there will be less production. Our understanding of the terroir has changed in terms of the equilibrium of the vine. We work the soil better by not using any chemicals and ploughing. The cellar has completely changed. Five years ago we changed the tanks from wood to six 55-hectoliter double-skinned stainless steel tanks. We have a new system with automatic pumps on each tank [In fact, these have been installed and used in all their properties]. The vinification is very classic, and we try to be very gentle in terms of extraction.”

This was a fascinating vertical. I had not tasted the 1998 Clos l’Église for several years, the wine that really changed everything for this Pomerol estate. Now at 23 years old, my feeling is that it is not going to improve and arguably comes across just a little monochrome compared to more recent vintages. That said, it remains thoroughly enjoyable with plenty of sappy red fruit and density… it just has a bit too much gloss for my liking. Personally, I prefer the 2000 Clos l’Église, despite a little dryness beginning to creep in towards the finish; the 2001 is even better in tandem with many Pomerol wines. This would be my pick of the older vintages. The 2009 and 2010 Clos l’Église are both maturing very well, although they remain a couple of years away from their drinking plateaus. The wines over the last decade have performed consistently well, the 2016 and 2019 two particular highpoints. The tannins have become much finer in recent years, there is less weight yet more tension and focus.