WELCOME TO CLARION WINES
Clarion Wines has grown out of the combined experience of three very different partners, with between them a little over 60 years in the Wine Trade. We are united by our ambition to work for ourselves in complete independence, running a small and efficient business which can deliver precisely what you are looking for at a fair price, with a strong emphasis on service and without the complications which can sometimes attend dealing with larger firms. This aim applies whether you are a buyer of regular drinking wines, or a collector of the greatest wines that France and Italy have to offer - as our ever-changing list covers an extraordinary breadth of both price and style.
The intention of our website is to show you all of the wines we have in stock along with our list of fine and rare wines, which includes wines owned by Clarion as well as stock to which we have access on a broking basis from various carefully controlled sources. In addition, you can see other special offers, wines offered regionally 'en primeur' and our full range of events and services. Whatever you are looking for please get in touch and we will do our very best to help.
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2013 Burgundy En Primeur
I suspect that, like us, most merchants arrived in Burgundy to taste the 2013s fearing the worst: there is no escaping the fact that the weather conditions for much of the growing season had been very difficult, and growers made no bones about this when describing the months leading up to harvest. But at tasting after tasting we were thrilled by the quality of the wines put before us, and struggled to find an adequate explanation for their undoubted quality. There were of course many different factors which combined to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. First – inevitably – is the quality of the terroir. Many growers were at pains to remind us that the quality of the fruit is to a considerable extent dictated by the quality and disposition of the ground on which it is grown. That, after all, goes to the heart of Burgundy’s complex appellation system. Many remarked that 2013 is a vintage in which the individual characteristics of different vineyard sites are particularly well defined. Second was the flowering; its very difficulty became an advantage, as the resulting bunches were small and not tightly packed – copious bunches of tightly packed grapes would never a) have reached an acceptable level of ripeness or b) have resisted rot in the last week or two before the harvest. Third, the vineyard work itself, much of which had to be done by hand rather than by machine as the wet conditions rendered tractors useless. In addition, the temptation was to compensate for the small 2012 harvest by pruning long to allow extra production – those who did this never achieved ripeness. The very long hang time (well over the 100 day rule of thumb) allowed the fruit to achieve an exceptional level of phenolic ripeness, and led to the last piece of the jigsaw – the picking date. Many growers said that it was essential to wait for as long as possible before picking, and then to pick as quickly as possible. Those sufficiently light on their feet to do this brought in fruit that was ripe and healthy. Quantities were ‘correct’ apart from in those appellations hit by the ferocious hail storm of 23rd July (mainly Savigny, Chorey, Beaune, Pommard and Volnay). Overall, the wines are very fine, beautifully balanced, with great purity and precision – a true vintage for lovers of fine Burgundy.
2013 was the latest vintage since 1999 in most of the Rhône Valley, apparently reversing the recent trend for early picking dates. Spring saw some of the coolest and wettest weather for 15 years or more, and the resulting difficult conditions during flowering set the pattern for the growing season, in particular ensuring a very low crop (especially for Grenache in the south, and for Roussanne and Marsanne in the north). Good growers enjoy a challenge however: Laurent Charvin talked eloquently of drawing on memories of how his father and grandfather coped with similarly difficult conditions in the 1980s. The difference in 2013 is that viticultural know-how has advanced considerably and, most importantly, good growers kept their yields down.
In the end, it was the small size of the crop, combined with relatively warm days and cool nights in the weeks just before the harvest, which ensured phenolic ripeness. Those growers who, faced with another small crop, couldn’t resist attempting a little extra production have paid a heavy price in unripe fruit. Among these good growers however, these wines represent a return to an older style – with lovely pure fruit, fine acidity giving precision and focus to the flavours, and slightly lower alcohol levels than have been seen in recent vintages.