Chateau Pape Clement Blanc 2010
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Chateau Pape Clément owes its name to its most illustrious owner. A man of the cloth born in 1264, Bertrand de Goth became Bishop of Comminges, in the Pyrenees Mountains, at the age of 31; he later became Archbishop of Bordeaux in 1299.
He then received as a gift the property in Pessac, the Vineyard de La Mothe. Taken by a passion for the vine, he continually took part personally in equipping, organizing and managing the domain in accordance with the most modern and rational practices. Nevertheless, on 5 June 1305 the cardinals met in a conclave in Pérouse and appointed him to succeed Pope Benedict XI, who had passed away prematurely after only eleven months of reign. Bertrand de Goth took the name of Clement V.
Supported by Philip IV, it was he who decided in 1309 to move the papal court to Avignon, thus breaking with Rome and its battles of influence. During this same period, the weight of his responsibilities led him to relinquish his property, giving it to the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Henceforward, the vineyard was to be known to posterity under the name of this enlightened pope.
The early period
Management under the clergy brings modernity The grateful Church perpetuated Pope Clement's work. Each archbishop in turn turned to modernity and technical progress, to the point of the wine estate becoming a model vineyard. In addition to especially early harvests, which remain one of its special characteristics, Chateau Pape Clément is without a doubt the first vineyard in France to align vine stock to facilitate labour.
After the Revolution
At the end of the 18th century, the Archbishop of Bordeaux was dispossessed of his property. The papal vineyard became part of the public domain.
The 20th century
8 June 1937 was a dark day in the vineyard's history, when a violent hailstorm destroyed virtually the entirety of the estate. Two years later, Paul Montagne bought it and gradually brought it back to life. Thanks to his efforts, the vineyard returned to its former rank and stood up to the surge in urbanization. His descendents, Léo Montagne and Bernard Magrez, perpetuate this secular tradition so that Chateau Pape Clément wines continue to delight the wine-lovers of today and tomorrow.
Recognized for its superior reds as well as whites, Pessac-Léognan on the Left Bank claims classified growths for both—making it quite unique in comparison to its neighboring Médoc properties.
Pessac’s Chateau Haut-Brion, the only first growth located outside of the Médoc, is said to have been the first to conceptualize fine red wine in Bordeaux back in the late 1600s. The estate, along with its high-esteemed neighbors, La Mission Haut-Brion, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pique-Caillou and Chateau Pape-Clément are today all but enveloped by the city of Bordeaux. The rest of the vineyards of Pessac-Léognan are in clearings of heavily forested area or abutting dense suburbs.
Arid sand and gravel on top of clay and limestone make the area unique and conducive to growing Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc as well as the grapes in the usual Left Bank red recipe: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and miniscule percentages of Petit Verdot and Malbec.
The best reds will show great force and finesse with inky blue and black fruit, mushroom, forest, tobacco, iodine and a smooth and intriguing texture.
Its best whites show complexity, longevity and no lack of exotic twists on citrus, tropical and stone fruit with pronounced floral and spice characteristics.
Sometimes light and crisp, other times rich and creamy, Bordeaux white blends typically consist of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Often, a small amount of Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris is included for added intrigue. This blend was popularized in the Bordeaux region of France (where it also comprises outstanding sweet wines like Sauternes and Barsac), but is often mimicked throughout the New World, particularly in California, Washington and Australia.
In the Glass
Sémillon provides the background to this blend, with a relatively full body and an oily texture. Sauvignon Blanc adds acidity and lots of bright fruit flavor, particularly white grapefruit, lime and freshly cut grass. Used in smaller proportions, Muscadelle can contribute fresh floral notes, while Sauvignon Gris is less aromatic but offers ripe, juicy fruit on the palate. These wines run the gamut from unoaked, refreshing, and easy to drink to serious, complex and barrel-aged. The latter style, usually with a higher percentage of Sémillon, can develop aromas of ginger, chamomile and dried orange peel. The dessert wines produced by these blends, often with the help of "noble rot" called botrytis, can have lush stone fruit and honey characteristics.
Crisp, dry Bordeaux white blends are the perfect accompaniment for raw or lightly cooked seafood, especially shellfish. A more structured, Sémillon-based bottling can stand up to richer fish, chicken, or pork dishes in white sauces. These blends also work well with a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs, like asparagus, peas, basil and tarragon. Sweet dessert wines are traditionally enjoyed with strong blue cheeses, foie gras or fruit-based desserts.
Sauternes and Barsac are usually reserved for dessert, but astute sommeliers know that they can be served at any time—before, during or after the meal. Try these sweet wines as an aperitif with jamón ibérico, oysters with a spicy mignonette or during dinner alongside hearty Alsatian sausage, poached lobster in beurre blanc sauce or even fried chicken.