08-jan-07-clerc-milon.jpgI’d picked up a couple of lovely little steaks for dinner last night, so it seemed appropriate to have a drop to go with them.  As you can tell, we’re not being particularly abstemious this January!  The only bottle of red in the house was the Château Clerc-Milon 2003 Pauillac bought last week for a bit under 30 euros.  It’s rather too young to be drinking it (it would probably have improved for the next decade at least) and it might’ve been deemed a “bit good” for a Monday night in, but it was pouring with rain outside and I didn’t fancy the walk over to the cave to find something else!  This turned out to be a great decision.

As is often the case, I was first drawn to the Clerc-Milon by its beautiful label.  Not pencil line drawing of a château on this one; rather a colourful little picture of a couple of jesters dancing, or “buffons” as they’re charmingly known in French.  The little legend under the jesters (which you can see in close-up here), when translated, reads, “Jesters dancing in gold enamel and pearls (or beads) – 17th century –Museum of Mouton.”  And in a slightly spooky coincidence given the hi-tech nature of this blog, the French word for enamel is “émail”! 

So it was pretty much a done deal even before I’d looked it up in the Oz Clarke book and found him calling the Clerc-Milon an “outstanding Pauillac.” Château Clerc-Milon is classed as a 5th Growth Cru Classé (the same level as the Château Belgrave Haut-Médoc tasted over the weekend) so I was expecting good things even though, as I mentioned, I realised that a 2003 vintage was a bit young.  It didn’t disappoint! 

I’m picking up the Left Bank trademarks now – less overt fruit, a certain dryness – and did find it in many ways similar to the Belgrave.  I was initially a bit perplexed, as right at the finish of the nose (if there is such a thing) I got a very distinctive smell that I couldn’t place for ages.  And then it came back to me.  Copydex!  

Now, those of you who, like me, were at school in the UK during the 70s and 80s will remember Copydex as a thick white glue used in art classes that dried to a rubbery texture and had a very distinctive smell.  Not unpleasant (and, I should add, I don’t think it was a particularly addictive smell…) but distinctive…almost a bit fishy.  I definitely got a bit of it from the Clerc-Milon.  Which took me right back to primary school. 

A nice wine, but I think the Château Belgrave was probably better value at around 10 euros less a bottle.  Having said that, I think the Clerc-Milon might age better (and longer) so it might be worth having both and drinking the Belgrave younger.