His new title as Clément V meant he had to give up the property to the church but not before he had given his name to it: Château Pape Clément.
While it can trace its origins back to 1305, the past decade has been all about the greening of Pape Clément. Inter-row grass has been encouraged since the late nineties. Not only does that inhibit compaction of the soil but it also encourages greater organic matter.
The mowing is also done in a very organic way: 30 local sheep can be found grazing the vineyards of Pape Clément during the winter. From 2012, the estate started working on sustainable viticulture, becoming a member of an environmental management plan for the Bordeaux wine industry, and has received the seal of approval in the High Environmental Value scheme.
They’re also big on watching the weather at Pape Clément: it has its own radar to detect storms that may damage its crop. If the radar detects a storm at up to 30km away, a helium balloon is inflated and released. It flies a payload of hygroscopic salts, which are used to prevent hail from forming within clouds.
The vineyards are around 60 hectares with reds accounting for more than 90% of production. It’s a fairly even split between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot making up the last 5%.
Château Pape Clément holds the title as the first estate in Bordeaux to de-stem its entire crop by hand.
It has a gravity flow winery with fermentation taking place in small oak vats, stainless steel and concrete. A cold maceration takes place before the alcoholic fermentation takes hold. Malolactic fermentation takes place in oak barrels of which two-thirds are new barrels before maturation over 18 months.
Meanwhile the Château’s top white wine brings together Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and a dash of Sauvignon Gris. The grapes are whole bunch pressed before a slow vinification in a combination of oak barrels, concrete eggs, oak foudres and stainless steel vats. It is matured on fine lees to bring texture and weight. Michel Rolland is the estate’s consultant winemaker.