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Few great wines can boast seven centuries of history and trace their origins back to a pope.

Château Pape Clément, located in Pessac, near Bordeaux, owes its name to its most famous owner—Pope Clement V. Born in Villandraut in 1264, Bertrand de Goth was appointed Bishop of Comminges in the Pyrenees on 28 March 1295, a position he held until 1299, when he was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux by the Pope.

With his appointment, he received Pessac vineyard as a gift, then known as the “de La Mothe” vineyard (a name referring to its elevated terrain). The archdiocese's archives provide a number of details about the Bertrand de Goth's deep involvement in his vineyards and his constant search for the most rational and efficient equipment for both the vineyard and cellars. His work was continued by the Church whose efforts turned Pope Clement's concern into a model estate.

5 June 1305, cardinals met in conclave in Perugia and elected Bertrand de Goth as successor to Pope Benedict XI, who died in 1304 after 11 months of reign. The new Pope adopted the name Clement V and chose Lyon for his coronation. In 1309, Clement V entered Avignon, the city he had chosen for his papal court, thus breaking with Rome, a hotbed of power struggles.

From 1305 to 1309, the Pope continued managing his vineyard with all the care that made it so special. 12 December 1309, his papal duties prevented him performing this task and he decided to donate the estate to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Arnaud de Canteloup. To Clement V, entrusting his vineyard to the Church of Bordeaux meant bequeathing it to eternity, while allowing Pape Clément's vines to thrive over the centuries to come.

During the long period that Château Pape Clement was administered by the Archbishop, modernism and technical progress made it a pioneering estate, one of the special features of which was its early harvest. We now know that the vineyard was one of the first in France where vine stock was planted in rows to facilitate tilling. This was tantamount to a horticultural revolution as plants had previously been scattered around plots.

The Revolution and the challenges of nature

In the late18th century, the archdiocese of Bordeaux was dispossessed of its assets and the vine bequeathed to it 500 years previously fell into the public domain. Owners succeeded one another and, in turn, were forced to fight against the various scourges afflicting French vineyards at the end of the 19th century—powdery mildew, downy mildew and phylloxera.

Among them was Jean-Baptiste Clerc, a wine trader from Bordeaux, who acquired the property in 1858, and turned it into a model vineyard. It was he who confirmed the renown and finesse of Pope Clement's wines, and was rewarded with the gold medal from the Gironde Agricultural Society and the Great Medal from the Ministry of Agriculture at the World Fair of 1878, two highly coveted distinctions.

It was also Clerc who built the chateau which was redesigned by the heirs of the subsequent owner, Monsieur Cinto, another Bordeaux merchant, producing the building we know today.

8 June 1937, a violent hailstorm destroyed almost the whole of Château Pape Clément's vineyard and, in 1939, it was bought by Paul Montagne, an agronomic engineer, who, when the war finished, set about restoring it and reinstating it to the status it deserved. 

Thanks to these efforts, Château Pape Clément regained its radiance and managed to resist the onset of urbanization and the development of housing in a village where, at the start of the century, there were only two thousand inhabitants and fifty winegrowers.

New impetus

In the 1980s, Bernard Magrez, an entrepreneur passionate about wine, took over the Château and built an unprecedented international reputation for the Grand Cru Classé. Ever since, Bernard Magrez has deployed every means possible to ensure that Château Pape Clément's exceptional terroir continues to flourish through time and to express the finesse that has made its wines so famous.

2009 was an exceptional year, Château Pape Clément's crowning glory, the year when it was awarded the legendary 100/100 score from the world-famous wine critic Robert Parker, writing a new page in the history of exceptional wines.

Thanks to relentless work, constant exploration and a remarkable terroir, Château Pape Clément continues each year to delight wine lovers with its exceptional quality.



An exceptional terroir

Located in Pessac, near Bordeaux, Château Pape Clément is divided into three major plots with distinct characteristics and several smaller plots scattered around the village.

The geological base

The Tertiary Age bedrock (Oligocene Period) is composed of asteriated limestone forming the backbone of the Bordeaux terroir. On the lower left bank of the Garonne, it is covered by a fine, more recent layer of terrain from the Miocene Age (Tertiary Period). These are the faluns of the Bordeaux region, a soil-type characterized by pulverized shell debris. On this base lies the alluvial gravel layer, known as graves, a large mass of round blunt pebbles, coated with a finer mixture of primarily sand and clay.


The Graves : the power of the terroir

Château Pape Clément is located on the oldest of the alluvial terraces, known as the Pyrenees graves. Dating back to the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene Periods, it was spread over the substratum in torrential flows. The soil has several geographical origins: the mountainous Atlantic Pyrenees, the Pyrenean piedmont and the eastern Massif Central. Furthermore, three types of soil – tawny Chalosse sands, multicolored clays, and siliceous graves – can also be clearly distinguished. The originality of the Château Pape Clément lies in the presence of a thin top-layer of more recent Garonne graves, dating from the Günz Glacial Stage, deposited there one and a half million years ago.

Western sands

Toward the west of the estate, the graves were buried beneath a layer of eolian sand from the Landes region which spread in the late Quaternary Period, forty thousand years ago. This thick, 30-50cm layer provides the vines with a frugal yet balanced water supply.

Clay to the east

To the east, the proportion of clay increases. Clay retains water better, and diffuses it slowly. Hence, the vine matures in conditions of moderate water stress, without being exposed to sudden, extreme drought.

The leaner soil to the north

To the north, the gravel-sand terraces are particularly low in clay and organic material. On this lean and porous soil, the vines may suffer increased water stress. Full maturity is reached when a balance between the plant and grapes is maintained by special pruning.

Iron contribution

The high iron content in the subsoil and groundwater contributes to the soil's personality. According to experts, the iron content explains the spicy, smoky bouquet characteristic of Château Pape Clément wines.

The vineyard


Red varieties (57 hectares)

The red vines are divided into 60 % Cabernet sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Cabernet sauvignon is mainly planted on the gravel and sand-and-gravel areas. It brings the blend its tannic structure guaranteeing healthy aging in bottles. Merlot, meanwhile, is better adapted to clay soils, and produces round, rich and velvety wines, dominated by ripe fruit. Note that over 60% of the vines are over 25 years old, including a large proportion over 40 years old. The presence of old vines brings extra finesse and elegance.


White varieties (3 hectares)

45% Sauvignon blanc, 45% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle.

With their very different characters, these three grape varieties bring the blend its finesse and rich complexity. The Sauvignon, especially, a lively variety with fresh, fruity, invigorating notes, brings the acidity and structure necessary for the good aromatic expression of all white wines. Semillon produces fat, suave wines, with notes of ripe fruit and honey, giving the blend its ability to age in bottles. Muscadelle, meanwhile, brings a special, intense touch, which contributes to the complexity of the palate.


Plantation: the competition principle

Vines are planted at high densities, between 7700 and 9000 plants per hectare. This highly competitive environment, as well as the choice of low-vigor rootstock, naturally weaken the plants and create the optimal conditions for ripening. Grass is planted in-between the most clay-rich sections, further increasing competition for water between the plants.


Pruning and thinning: recreating the natural order

Pruning is carried out in winter according to the “Guyot double” technique, without downward spurs, providing two canes, each with three buds. After the buds burst, only the three most exposed and best distributed branches are left on each cane after debudding. A build-up of vegetation is not allowed. As the ripening phase approaches, the foliage is thinned by hand to create an ideal micro-climate for the clusters, providing the right air flow and light. While the lower leaves are removed, the fruit themselves are not exposed to direct sunlight, as this may cause burnt and over-ripe aromas. Leaves are first thinned on the least exposed side of the plants in June. Then in August, leaves are removed from the other side. The clusters are thus gradually acclimatized to light and good air-flow naturally slows the development of undesirable fungi.


Cluster thinning: as soon as the grapes appear,

Between two phases of leaf removal, the clusters too are thinned (known as the “green harvest”) to remove the substandard clusters. The misplaced clusters, which are too high or too close together, are removed first. Then, as the grapes ripen and take on color, clusters that would be too late for harvest are also removed.


Customized harvests

Following much observation and analysis – of subsoil, soil, leaves, and grapes – throughout the year, each task is carried out at the optimal time according to the plot. Hence we naturally set separate harvest dates for each.

The harvest team may vary between thirty to a hundred people depending on the day, according to the number of parcels deemed to have reached perfect maturity. During harvest, participants carry out an initial selection. For white wines, the important criterion is the golden color of the clusters. It is thus common for a plot to be harvested in two or even three successive sessions, with several days to a week between them. White grapes are only picked in the morning before outside temperatures get too high so as to preserve aromas and prevent oxidation. The grapes are hand-picked and placed in small crates to prevent compression and premature juice extraction.






Reconciling a wealth of tradition and cutting edge techniques, Château Pape Clément wines are made to meet the highest quality standards. Separate vinification. Small vats are used to enable the separate vinification of grapes from different plots on the estate. The grapes can thus express their full diversity. The distinction between the grapes becomes the basis for blending each vintage.


Meticulous manual destemming

The separation of the grapes from their stems is carried out entirely by hand. Here, rather than removing the stems from the fruit, we remove the fruit from the stems grape-by-grape.This operation is very labor-intensive but does enable us to obtain whole grapes only, without undesired extraction or early release of juice.


Gentle pressure

For the white wines the crates are emptied manually into a pneumatic press. The pressure is slowly increased, without breaking up the press-cake, so as to extract only the purest of the juice. The must is directly transferred to barrels by gravity, without pumping.


Fermentation: the contribution of oak Château Pape Clément's red wines are vinified in oak casks. This favors uniform fermentation, unlike steel vats which are prone to temperature variations. Maintained between 29 and 30°C during fermentation, then between 27 and 29°C during maceration after fermentation, moderate temperatures allow for gentle extraction of tannins and color. Before the wine is drawn off, fermentation varies between 20 and 35 days depending on the evolution of taste in each vat.

The white wines are fermented entirely in French oak barrels. The lees are stirred to maintain them in suspension in order to develop body and character. The proportion of new oak barrels varies between 70 to 100% depending on the vintage. The remainder is vinified in one-wine-old barrels. This enables us to preserve the balance between the three grape varieties and the aromatic contribution of the barrel aging process.


Egg-white fining

Some batches may turn out to be too cloudy, so we clarify the wine using beaten egg whites as fining. This attracts and precipitates any suspended particles, which fall to form a sediment on the bottom of the vat.

  The art of blending

Blending aims both at achieving the concentration and complexity worthy of the greatest wines, and to maintain, from vintage to vintage, the unique qualities of Château Pape Clément, characterized by smoked and spiced notes, fruity aromas and a rich and elegant body. Thus, the blender can slightly vary the proportions of the grape varieties to find the right balance that brings the most attractive harmony of palate, and the best potential for bottle-aging.  


Aging suitability

For red vintages, wines are casked into new barrels by gravity, without pumping. During aging, malolactic fermentation takes place and lasts between 18 and 20 months. Barrels are selected from eight different cooperages so that the oak note is as delicate and discreet as possible. In order to prevent them from drying, white wines are kept in barrels for no more than 12 months, then the barrels are maintained at a low temperature for a month. This clarifies the wine naturally and avoids chemical or physical treatment during bottling.


6 different wines with 72 vintages


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Tastingbook AI /Artificial Intelligence, Wine Writer  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  100 wines 

Tastingbook.com has rated Bordeaux’s 100 best-known wines from 2022 vintage without tasting them. The points are formed by the tastingbook AI which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known wine Critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook's professionals from the last 52 Bordeaux vintages (1980-2021), also taking into account the climatic conditions of those vintages, the quality and the reputation of the producers and their ability to produce wines in vintages similar to 2022. As a new element, regional weather information collected from satellites over the past 12 years has now been included.
Based on tastingbook’s more than 70,000 wine reviews and other statistics generated during the last 51 Bordeaux vintages, the tastingbook’s artificial intelligence predicted the score for the 2022 Bordeaux wines, like it did successfully for the 2020 and 2021 vintages. The score now given is the one to which the wines of the mentioned wineries should be able to achieve according to this prediction.

1m 7d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  525 wines 

The arrivage tasting proved the great quality of the vintage 2020. The promises made in the glass during the en primeur tastings were kept in this tasting session. An excellent vintage with wonderful and convincing qualities.  


1m 30d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Domaine de Chevalier 2021- 80% C. Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% C. Franc and 5% P. Verdot. It's the first vintage with that much C. Sauvignon in the blend. 13% alcohol. Intense black- and redcurrants, crushed rocks, coffee beans, cigar box, graphite, fresh, fine structure and complexity. Persistent aftertaste. Splendid effort for the vintage. 94-95p.

8m 24d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  4 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  745 wines 

This years "en primeur" tasting seemed like a journey in time. Bordeaux is back to a more moderate alcohol level and the style is lighter and more elegant. One could say the wines are reminiscent of the 80s, however made with more experience and the modern techniques today. It is not a powerful vintage. The wines are elegant, however the well made ones have an excellent persistence, depth and length. They offer a convincing potential for a long ageing and promote elegance in Bordeaux again. It is a true vintage of terroir although there is a lot of talk about a vintners vintage. However, terroir was the decisive factor in 2021.

Professor Axel Marchal has presented the 10 key points of this vintage on the occasion of the Union des Grands Crus press tasting:

"1. The start of the growing season was marked by severe frost on the 7th and 8th of April.

2. Wet and gloomy weather in May slowed down the vine growth although a providential window of fine weather helped flowering unfold in ideal conditions in early June.

3. Thunderstorms in June slowed down the onset of water stress.

4: Cool, dull weather in July increased the threat of vine diseases.

5. Véraison (colour change) was observed in mid-August, while vine growth had not stopped yet.

6. Thanks to a cool summer, the dry white wines are brilliant, lively and aromatic.

7. The wonderful Indian Summer allowed the red grape varieties to ripen in ideal conditions and preserved aromas.

8. The Merlots are fresh and aromatic while the Cabernets from the finest terroirs are well-structured with good balance.

9. The development of Botrytis cinerea in Sauternes was delayed by the cool summer and eventually triggered by rainfall in mid-September.

10. Despite low yields, the botrytised sweet white wines are of excellent quality."

It will be exciting to see the evolution of this vintage which produced in many cases yields on a very low scale. Arguably it will be a vintage praised for it finesse in the future. A vintage rated on finesse and persistence rather than on sheer power and opulence.

10m 20d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  19 wines 

2019 Château Haut-Bailly/ Ruby. Blackberries, cassis, anise, some spices, fruit driven nose, nuanced and layered, scented. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, darkfruits, anise, liquorice and spices, intense, still fine boned, long finish. Touch of alcohol warmth. 96

11m 1d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  73 wines 

Château Langoa Barton 2020 – Sister property to Leoville Barton and similar to her big "sister" in terms of the quality. Big scaled on the nose and palate with creamy blackcurrants, graphite, fat tannin, strong backbone, and striking complexity. Classy stuff.  53.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 8.5% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alcohol.


1y 8m ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  19 wines 

2018 Château Haut-Brion/Ruby. Intense, lush dark fruits, spices, liquorice, blueberries, vanilla, intense, deep and powerful nose. Both 2017 and 2018 has needed a few hours open after pouring the first glass to reveal their layers, very compact wines and Haut-Bailly had a similar tightness to them this vintage. Or maybe it was the shipment. But they have needed a good six to eight hours of following. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dense, sort of a blockbuster, with silk cravat and Savile Row suit, Rocky Balboa going to visit the Queen. This is somewhat different for Haut-Brion, plusher, lusher, alcohol is high, but they have been for quite a few vintages now. There is so much of everything in here, but does it have the grace of 1989? 2017 besides it lacks some elements, but also gains in finesse. At least at this stage. This may go higher, as with many 2018’s, it depends on where they stand when the baby fat goes. How well do they then cope with some of the excesses? Still a grand vin, no doubt about it. 98

1y 9m ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  56 wines 

Bordeaux 2020 Vintage - Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2020- lots of aromatic blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, powerful on the palate with a strong backbone, big concentration, multilayered and with great length. Long, long finish. Impressive effort. 96-97p.

1y 9m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  4 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  153 wines 

2020 – the paradox vintage - part two

1y 10m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Pape Clément . In a tasting of  650 wines 

2020 – the paradox vintage 

2020 began with mild temperatures even breaking temperature record highs at the beginning of February. These conditions led to a premature budbreak. Budding developed unevenly, very much depending on the locations although the coo and humid weather in April had not a very significant impact on slowing down the growth of the vines. Finally all the vines came into bloom at the end of May without any significant coulure or millerandage. At the start of June, frequent rain intensified the pressure of mildew. From mid-June, the weather changed. The whole Bordelais saw a period of very dry weather for two months. However, the earlier accumulation of water reserves prevented water stress. Around July 18 a heat wave began to build up but the cool nighty prevented water stress on the wines again. The veraison started at the end of July and went on till the beginning of August. The heatwave in August accentuated water stress, but shorter rainy episodes avoided a complete block. The dry and sunny weather in September encouraged the grapes maturity and harvest started on September 10 with a rather mild weather. Towards the middle of September, rain prevented the fruits from wilting but as its frequency was quite concerning, the haves was pushed forward. "Le diabolique" is the title given to this vintage by Véronique Sanders. It is a very special French word, which is not correctly translated with “diabolic” in English. In France, the expression means to overcome the devil. And the vintners succeeded. 2020 is clearly a vintner’s vintage which asked a permanent reinvention of the wineries, struggling hard with this difficult vintage. However, the vintage surprises with excellent wines, exemplary freshness and elegance and very dense structure. In former times it was said that the vine has to suffer to make exquisite wines, in this vintage the people have suffered to make a great wine. The first part of notes for this tasting with over 800 wines you will find today. More notes will follow over the coming days.

1y 10m ago

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