Château Pape Clément owes its name to Bertrand de Goth, who succeeded Benedict XI as Pope. He took the name of Clement V and moved the papal court to Avignon in 1309, leaving behind his vines in Pessac.
Today, Pape Clément is the most prestigious estate belonging to Bernard Magrez. The vineyard is divided into three large plots with different soil types, but mainly consisting of gravel, clay, and some asteriated limestone. Pape Clément's terroir also contains a high level of iron, which may explain its smoky bouquet in certain vintages.
Patrice Hateau and his team treat each vineyard plot as separate entities in order to obtain perfect ripening. Green cover is used throughout the vineyard, including specially selected grasses to enhance competition with the vines and naturally reduce their vigor (and, consequently, yields).
Since 2001, almost obsessive care is taken in sorting and destemming the grapes by hand during the vintage.
Since 2007, Pape Clément has had a new vat room housing 28 wooden vats with a capacity from 30 to 70 hectoliters each, as well as a highly-efficient sorting table. The cap is periodically punched down in order to extract the purest possible juice and the grapes are pressed very slowly and gently, without breaking up the press cake. The must goes directly into barrel via gravity flow. The solid matter in suspension is precipitated thanks to cold settling in a special temperature-controlled room.
Pape Clément also produces a few barrels of a very well-reputed dry white wine which is fermented in barrel and regularly stirred with a stick (bâtonnage).
Château Pape Clément is very ambitions, and the efforts made over the past few years definitely show in the quality of the wine. Everything is done at Pape-Clément to produce a luxurious wine that can hold its own with the finest in its appellation. While Château Pape Clément managed to produce some magnificent vintages in past years (1990, 1989, 1988, and 1986 Pape Clément), the results in the present decade are more consistently impressive. Pape Clément has attained a very high level indeed. The 2003, 2002, 2001 vintages, as well as the 2000, 2006, 2005 and 1998 Pape Clément have proved to be delicious.
Pape Clément is made in such a was as to be enjoyable at all stages of development. This means that, although attractive in its youth, Pape Clément also has good aging potential. Quality has been extremely regular over the last decade.
Pape Clément, Le Clémentin du Pape Clément (second vin), Le Prélat du Château Pape Clément