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.
We have tried to provide detailed information on the wines and their producers for those who are interested in finding out more - while keeping the amounts of immediately visible text to manageable levels.
If you feel there is room for improvement in any area, do please let us know - we are always happy to try and make things better in the hopes that you will keep coming back.
2015 Burgundy En Primeur
One grower described the 2015 growing season as a dream – and while it didn’t bring some of the challenges seen in 2014 and 2016, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as it might have been. A mild winter, with just a few days of frost in February, was followed by a very warm spring. This seemed to set the pattern for the rest of the season – 2015 for most growers produced a small crop because of higher than average temperatures, particularly during flowering and fruit set, and very low rainfall (20% below average overall and, at its most extreme in June, 90% below average). This caused coulure and millerandage – thus fewer berries, smaller berries, and thick skins. The above average temperatures accelerated ripening – at Fontaine for example, the usual 100 day rule from flowering to picking would have meant a harvest date of 12th September, whereas they in fact began picking on 1st September. And the picking date is perhaps the most crucial factor in the final quality of wine produced: with early and rapidly ripening fruit, it was essential to hold one’s nerve and not pick too early, before full phenolic ripeness, but equally to pick immediately full ripeness was achieved, and quickly, in order to avoid over-ripeness. Those who succeeded in this difficult balancing act retained the all-important freshness in their wines which contributes to making this such a fabulous vintage. But look out for wines produced by those who picked too late – they may be seductive in their richness, but they lack the essential vivacity which is so much a hallmark of great Burgundy. 2015s from good growers will have a long drinking window – with such excellent balance they are approachable young, whilst also having the concentration and tannins necessary for long ageing potential. Lastly, the question of price cannot be ignored. Most growers, because of the catastrophically small 2016 vintage following on the heels of a below average 2015 crop have felt obliged to increase their prices, though mostly modestly. Unfortunately for us in the UK, the sharp drop in the value of the pound against the euro since this time last year has turned a modest euro increase into a significant sterling increase. It is a reality with which we have to cope, at least for the time being.
2015 Rhone En Primeur
Grower after grower spoke of the ease of the 2015 growing season – certainly it was unusually dry from late May, and hot from late June. But thanks to a very wet autumn and winter 2014-2015, there were plentiful water reserves, and it was only the young vines on especially sandy soils that suffered a little from the heat. Even then, this was ameliorated by the occasional day or two of rain in the middle of August (8th, 13th, 23rd-25th in the South) and (also in the South) in the middle of September. All producers talked of the brilliant harvest conditions – after 4 months of virtual drought, the rain which fell was easily absorbed by the ground, and cool nights in September ensured no danger of rot. In the north, there was a frenzy of activity to get everything picked before the couple of days’ rain forecast around the middle of the month; in the south, there was some relief that this rain came to alleviate the very dry conditions, allowing the vines some extra time to ripen before picking the later-ripening varieties in the second half of September. In all cases, fruit came in to the wineries in perfect condition. It is a little early for opinion to settle on whether this is a ‘very fine’ or a ‘great’ vintage – but 2015 is certainly up there among the very best, and the wines will give enormous pleasure to lovers of wines from the Rhône Valley.