2015 Pape Clement Blanc

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Wine Critic Reviews for 2015 Pape Clement Blanc

Very impressive pear and dried-peach fruits with very subtle mealy, savory notes. The palate delivers impressive weight, amazing power and depth here. Richness and great prowess. Tight now. Give it three or four years to open.

James Suckling | 98 JS
The 2015 Château Pape Clément Blanc is sensational stuff, and along with Domaine de Chevalier’s Blanc, a candidate for the white wine of the vintage. Made from close to equal amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, with 10% Sauvignon Gris, from a 7.2-hectare section of the Pessac Vineyard, it offers a perfumed bouquet of lime, lychee, crushed rocks, and green citrus. Fabulous on the palate as well, with full-bodied richness and a ripe, sexy, concentrated style, it stays fresh and lively, and is an absolute joy to drink. You can drink bottles over the coming 4-5 years or cellar for 15+. Tasted twice and rated it 96 and 97, so I’m being conservative on the rating.

Jeb Dunnuck | 97 JD
A wine of real beauty and class, the 2015 Pape Clément Blanc has been nothing short of deeply impressive every time I have tasted it from barrel or bottle. Like most of Bernard Magrez's wines, the Pape Clément Blanc is rich, textured and racy in style. Orange peel, exotic white flowers, mint, chamomile and a dash of new French oak infuse this creamy, sensual Blanc. Drink it over the next handful of years. Even with all of its intensity, the Blanc is remarkably vivid. The decrease in Sémillon and a move towards larger format barrels are two of the recent developments with the Blanc. The blend is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon and 10% Sauvignon Gris. | 95 AG
The 2015 Pape Clement Blanc is blended of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon and 10% Sauvignon Gris, fermented in 55% new and 45% one-year-old oak barrels. It aged for 16 months in barrels, with the entire time spent on the fine lees. It has quite a closed, reticent nose featuring ripe peaches, musk perfume and struck flint notes with a suggestion of lemon curd and honeycomb plus a touch of coriander seed. Medium-bodied with a crisp backbone, the intense citrus and stone fruit flavors trail off beautifully into a lingering honeyed finish.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RP
Rich, already attractive, this wine sums up the whites in this vintage. With its opulent character and great fruit, it is rich, tangy and lightly herbal. It is a very complete wine and will be delicious from 2023.

Wine Enthusiast | 95 WE
This is a large-scale version, with a prominent brioche and macadamia nut frame around creamed Jonagold apple, pear and white peach flavors. The long finish is scored by heather honey and singed coconut notes. Powerfully rendered, but with its own form of purity as well. Drink now through 2024.

Wine Spectator | 94 WS
Ripe white stone fruit includes jammy aspects, as this is the most opulent of all the wines assessed in this tasting. While the 2014 is clearly the better wine, with more precision and focus, the general style at Pape Clement stresses richness, so readers seekIng more linearity and focus at Pape Clément should seek cooler vintages like 2014. But if you love the ostentatious style, 2015 is your ticket: a big wine with enough balancing acidity. Drinking Window: 2020 - 2026

Decanter | 92 DEC

Wine Details on 2015 Pape Clement Blanc

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Producer Chateau Pape Clement: With a chateau as breathtaking as its wine, a debut harvest that took place in 1252 and once owned by the Pope, Chateau Pape Clement has a history like few others and is recognized as one of the oldest, Grand Crus in Bordeaux. The first harvest of this iconic Pessac Leognan estate in Graves unknowingly laid the foundations for an outstanding cultural heritage and the original birth of Chateau Pape Clement.

As Archbishop of Bordeaux, Bertrand de Goth was gifted the Vineyard de la Mothe in Pessac. His interest in wine was well known and this new endeavor led him to the joys of making Bordeaux wine. It was said that he could be found working in the vineyard and managing the chateau using the most sophisticated techniques of his day. He was elected as Pope in 1305 by the Cardinals and was renamed Clement V. In 1309 Pope Clement V moved the Papel Court to Avignon and was forced to relinquish his Bordeaux Vineyards, to which he gifted to the Archbishop of Bordeaux. In his honor, the property was renamed Chateau Pape Clement. It would remain in the faithful hands of each Archbishop after, following suit in Clement’s winemaking techniques as well as his teachings.

The modern era for Pape Clement began in 1939 when it was purchased by Paul Montagne. Montagne and his heirs worked tirelessly to renovate the estate, bringing the property back to the previous level of high quality Pape Clement was known for. The estate suffered immensely during the 1950’s when a massive hail storm destroyed much of the vineyard, requiring extensive replanting. After the death of Montagne, the estate was passed on to his children.

By 1975, two families owned Pape Clement; 80% being owned by the Bobeau family and the remaining 20% belonging to the wife of Bernard Magrez and descendant of Paul Montagne. Magrez began purchasing shares of the vineyard and by 1980 became the sole owner. He remains firmly in charge of Pape Clement as well as 42 other wineries throughout Bordeaux and numerous wine-producing countries around the world. In 1993, Michel Rolland was brought in to consult and under the direction of Magrez, the wines of Pape Clement have never been better.

The 60-hectare vineyard has 53 hectares designated to vines for red wines, while 7 are designated for whites. The yields are kept low, riper fruit is being picked and there is a rigorous selection process. The vines used to source the reds are planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The whites are comprised of 7 hectares planted to 48.5% Semillon, 44.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 5.5% Sauvignon Gris and 1.5% Muscadelle. Since taking control of Pape Clement, Magrez has focused much emphasis on the production of his white wines, bringing them to a highly desirable quality.

The closest neighbor is Chateau Haut Brion and though Pape Clement is located closer to the city of Bordeaux, it has a slightly cooler micro-climate and is usually harvested several days to a week later than that of Haut Brion. The terroir is a complex blend of gravel, clay, small rocks and sandy soils, with a substructure of clay, sandstone and limestone. Typically, Cabernet Sauvignon is planted where the soil is mostly gravel, while Merlot is planted in the heavier clay portions. The terroir for the white wine grapes is mostly gravel, clay, sand and limestone and located in the cooler sections of the vineyard.

While animal traction is used in the vineyard rows, whether it be horse and plow or most notably oxen, the estate also implements rather sophisticated techniques for vineyard management. The vineyard managers enlist the help of drones, named Vitirover, powered by solar energy to maneuver the vineyards inspecting specific parcels and vines. The drones take continuous images, using infra-red technology which capture the photosynthesis taking place in the vines. This surprising feat enables them to have a very precise understanding of what is taking place in each parcel from growing season to harvest. The degree of care and attention lavished on the vineyards are simply extraordinary. Since taking control of Pape Clement, Bernard Magrez has endeavored to pay his respects to it daily and to glorify this magnificent property which has witnessed part of France’s history.

In addition to Chateau Pape Clement and Pape Clement Blanc, there is a red and white Clementin De Pape Clement as well as Le Prelat De Pape Clement which serve as the second and third wines, respectively. On average, a total of 20,000 cases of red wine is produced each year, while 2,000 cases of whites are produced.
Region Bordeaux: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Country France: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Type of Wine Bordeaux White: In the world of wine, all other regions must bow before Bordeaux. The absurdly-talented white wine producers continue to assert their dominance by bringing out the true potential of varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Gris. If you have even the slightest bit of appreciation for fine white wine, these bottles will change your life.
Varietal White Bordeaux Blend: There is no question that red wine dominates the region of Bordeaux. With that being said, four million cases of white Bordeaux (Bordeaux Blanc) are produced each year, accounting for 10% of the region’s total production. Classic White Bordeaux Blends are perhaps the most overlooked white wines in the world today. The main varietals of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, each bring their trademark characteristics in the creation of ethereal quality whites.

Classic blends are pale in color, with flashes of golden-green, and are characterized by aromas of citrus, grass and hay. An array of flavors of honeyed lemon, orange marmalade, dried apricot and preserved tropical flavors (depending on age) infiltrate the palate. When the wines are produced according to tradition and in line with appellation laws, a classic Bordeaux white wine will contain at least 25% Sauvignon Blanc to ensure aromatic freshness. Lighter-styled, aromatic wines will contain higher levels of Muscadelle, and for a richer, more cellar-worthy style, a higher proportion of Semillon is used.

Perhaps the greatest expression of classic, dry white Bordeaux blends hails from the Pessac-Leognan and Graves appellations. Here, the terroir is characterized by many lightly-sloping low rises that ensure good drainage, facilitated by a network of small streams that act as natural drains. Soils are mostly comprised of river gravel deposits up to eight meters deep, left behind by the Garonne River on limestone bedrock. The gravel captures heat during the day and releases it into the soil at night aiding in the growth and vitality of the vine roots. It is also the hottest meso-climate of all Bordeaux appellations. Numerous producers in Pessac-Leognan make stellar white Bordeaux wine, but the undisputed king is Chateau Haut Brion Blanc. It combines intensity of flavor with rich textures, concentration, and complexity and has the ability to age for decades. Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte and Malartic Lagraviere are also atop the pyramid of producing classic, dry white Bordeaux blends. These wines can rival the greatest whites in the world.

The Left and Right Bank also produce white Bordeaux blends; however, due to AOC laws and guidelines on allowable varietals, the wines are produced and sold as generic Bordeaux Blanc. Cos d’Estournel in Saint Estephe (Left Bank) produces a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. In the Right Bank, Monbousquet Blanc is a terrific example of the dry, white blends of the appellation with its balance of 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris and 5% each of Muscadelle and Semillon.

They may be overshadowed by their red counterpart, but top-quality white Bordeaux blends are simply stunning, unique, sexy and luscious. Today, the quality of white Bordeaux wine has never been better.

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