Château Pape Clement 2020
• Domaine: Château Pape Clement
• Appellation: Pessac-Léognan
• Classification: Grand Cru Classé de Graves 1959
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
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.
"Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2020 Pape Clement comes barreling out of the glass with bold notes of cassis, plum preserves and licorice, giving way to scents of cedar chest, crushed rocks, charcoal and pencil lead. The medium to full-bodied palate is tightly coiled with beautiful tension and a firm, finely grained texture locking in the layers of black fruits and minerals, finishing with great length and energy. The blend this year is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot, aging mainly in French oak barriques, 66% new, with about 10% aging in large oak foudres. The wine will spend approximately 18 months in barrels." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (5/20/2021), Ratings: 96-98, Drink: 2028-2060
"Powerful in colour, this has the glass staining red and purple colours that Pape Clément does so well. Touches of liquorice and cocoa beans, well handled, this gives power with one hand but takes it away with the other as the austerity and fresh mint leaf comes to the fore. Impressive, a really enjoyable, classically wrought but still full of concentration Pape Clément. Savoury, there is nothing too exuberant in the fruits but it exudes deft confidence." Jane Anson, Decanter, Best Pessac-Léognan Wines Tasted 2020 En Primeur, (04/30/2021) Rating: 94
"Ranking with the top wines of the vintage, the dense purple-hued 2020 Château Pape Clement offers a sensational bouquet of pure crème de cassis interwoven with notes of liquid violets and classy oak. Possessing flawless balance, full-bodied richness, and ultra-fine tannins, it excels in this vintage and has a pretty, elegant, yet also layered and concentrated profile. It will drink well with just short-term cellaring yet evolve gracefully for 20-30 years. I was able to taste this on multiple occasions, and it always checked in near the upper end of the scale. This is a gorgeous wine in the making." Jeb Dunnuck, Bordeaux 2020: En Primeur Part 1, (05/23/2021) Rating: 97-99
"The 2020 Pape Clément is so impressive. Red cherry, plum, cedar, mint, tobacco, blood orange and rose petal all build as the 2020 opens in the glass. Vibrant and beautifully delineated, the 2020 has a ton to offer. The 2020 exudes purity, energy and breathtaking balance. It is one of the finest recent vintages I can remember tasting." Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June, 2021) Rating: 95-97
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