Château Pape Clement 2011
Château Pape Clement is one of the oldest and most historically significant estates in the appellation known as Pessac-Léognan that was carved out of Graves. The promise of the terroir at Pape Clement was evident as long as wines were being produced in Bordeaux. With its richly graveled soils filled with excellent nutrients and great drainage, the estate is able to produce both stunning red and white wines. Château Pape Clement has neighbors like First Growth and critically acclaimed darling, Château Haut-Brion and it is clear something very special is happening at this estate and has been for centuries. Is of no coincidence that the serious, mineral-lacedgrand vin from Château Pape Clement consistently dazzles vintage after vintage and is one of the treasures of the Left Bank.
If one is fortunate enough to visit the Château Pape Clement, set foot upon the grounds, walk next to its resident peacock, and take in the striking gothic architecture, they will find it readily apparent that the estate is significantly older than a lot of the other properties in the Médoc. Château Pape Clement had its first recorded grape harvest in 1252, and the estate was named after none other than Pope Clement V. The Pope was quite the oenophile, and he managed the estate using the some of the most sophisticated techniques of his day. Eventually, Pope Clement V set his sights on the Rhône Valley and moved to Avignon and the legendary wine appellation, Châteauneuf de Pape, derives its name from him. Château Pape Clement was passed on to the Archbishop of Bordeaux who managed the estate for quite some time. The property was then sold to Paul Montagne, whose heirs kept steadily rising the quality of the wines. Château Pape Clement survived the terrible frosts of the 1950s and was eventually managed by Bernard Margrez who became a négociant and the sole owner if the vineyards. Magrez hired the legendary Michel Rolland as consultant in 1993, and Château Pape Clement garnered the affections of critics such as Robert Parker.
The estate has a hefty sixty hectares of vines, with 53 hectares for red vines and 7 hectares for white. The estate is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, and Muscadelle. It is significantly cooler here than at some of the surrounding properties, and though Château Pape Clement is not far from the urban center of Pessac-Léognan, the estate still has to harvest later. The viticultural process here is comprised of a mixture of tradition and technological innovation. Since 2013, Château Pape Clement has used solar powered drones to assess the vines for peak ripeness and pick the optimum time to harvest them. The wine is vinified in a gravity-flow winery, and there is a hefty amount of new oak that is used to age it to perfection. More traditional practices include using oxen to plough the vineyards. Clearly the team at Château Pape Clement is doing something right, as the wines of this Graves Cru Classé continue to captivate from vintage to vintage.
"The 2011 Pape Clement, a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, was aged 18 months in new French oak before being bottled unfiltered. Absolutely profound, with a complex bouquet of mulberries, black cherries, black currants, graphite and subtle smoke and burning ember-like aromas, this is a true super-star of the vintage. It represents a remarkable achievement by the winemaking team of Bernard Magrez. Full-bodied, rich and multidimensional, this wine clearly transcends the entire vintage. It should age effortlessly for 25 years." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (4/29/2014, Issue 212), Ratings: 96, Drink: 2014-2039
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