We appeared to be on a theme for the day, with scheduled visits to Chateau Haut Brion, Chateau Pape-Clement and Chateau Domaine de Chevalier, all of which are well known for producing excellent whites in addition to their reds.
Chateau Pape Clement in Pessac was named after one of it’s previous owners, Pope Clement V. The story goes that Bertrand de Goth was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux in 1299. With this appointment, he received the Pessac vineyard as a gift, formerly known as the “de La Mothe” vineyard. In 1305 the Cardinals elected Bertrand de Goth as their new Pope and he adopted the name Pope Clement V. From 1305 to 1309 Pope Clement V continued to managed his vineyard, but when his papal duties became too much, he donated the property to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Arnaud de Canteloup. While Pape Clement was under the management of the Archbishop, modernism and technical progress made it a pioneering estate. Chateau Pape Clement is known to be one the first estates to plant the vines in rows, versus having the vines scattered around the property. The estate of Pape Clement was purchased in 1858 by Jean-Baptiste Clerc, a Bordeaux wine merchant, who also built the Chateau on the property. In the 1980’s, an entrepreneur by the name of Bernard Magrez took over the Chateau and built the international reputation for the Grand Cru Classe, Chateau Pape Clement.
Chateau Pape Clement has 57 hectares of red grape vines (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot) and 3 hectares of white grape vines (45% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle). The destemming of the grapes is done entirely by hand, berry by berry, which is very labor intensive. At Pape Clement, the red wines are fermented in traditional large wooden vats and aged in French oak barrels (70-100% new) for 18-20 months. The white wines are fermented entirely in French oak barrels for 12 months.
The cellar was interesting in that it was done in the style of a chapel, and actually had a small chapel inside it. There was also a fairly new structure on the property, a beautiful glass reception hall, that Christina was completely captivated by.
The wines we tasted were:
2009 Clos Haut Peyraguet – a combination of ripe melon and lemon with lots of spices and good acidity. Full bodied and a very long fruit filled finish.
2007 Pape Clement – Beautiful spicy black fruit filled nose. Full bodied sweet dark fruit in the mouth, good acidity and fine tannins on the long finish. This is a beautiful wine that is starting to drink well and is already showing some secondary characteristics. The 2007 Pape Clement will be a great wine to drink, while you wait for the 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2010 to mature.
2010 Fombrauge (from Saint-Emilion – made from Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris) – Very clean, fresh white fruit and spices, very good acid keeping everything lively. Medium bodied, with white peach, ripe pear and a hint of pineapple on the long fresh finish. This is an absolutely beautiful summer white to be drinking overlooking the vineyards, and we went through a couple bottles of it on our trip.
Before our final stop of the day, we stopped to check into our next hotel, the beautiful les Sources de Caudalie. We can’t wait to tell you more about it…