Château Pape Clément is one of the famous, ancient Bordeaux vineyards. The earliest harvests date back to 1252, although it was Bertrand de Goth who really started proceedings at the château. After being appointed archbishop of Bordeaux in 1299 and receiving the vineyards of La Mothe in Pessac as a gift, he gradually enlarged the estate. When he was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XI in 1305, he chose to be called Clément V, which is the derivation of the château's name.
Due to his appointment, the new Pope was obliged to grant the property to the then archbishop of Bordeaux, Arnaud de Canteloup, who introduced new practices to the estate, bringing forward the grape harvest and planting new vines in rows, a pioneering practice in Bordeaux. The vineyards continued to be looked after well in the hands of the Church for five centuries, but the majority of the wines didn't go beyond the diocese. With the arrival of the French Revolution, the estate passed into public ownership and carried on increasing in size until it amounted to 37 ha. Its wines in the mid-19th Century moved in the same high circles as those of the iconic Château Haut-Brion, and were already being sold back at Médoc second cru prices. Owners followed one after another, with some attaining special importance; such a case was Jean-Baptiste Clerc, a Bordeaux wine merchant who acquired the property in 1858, making a model vineyard of it and achieving high honours. It was he who built the château which the heirs of Monsieur Cinto (the subsequent owner) redesigned and converted into the building we know today.
On June 8th 1937, a violent hailstorm almost destroyed the entire vineyard and it was left to Paul Montagne, who purchased the estate in 1939, to relaunch the estate and its wines at a time in Pessac when there were no more than two thousand inhabitants, but already fifty vine growers.
In 1980, Bernard Magrez, an entrepreneur wine enthusiast, took possession of the estate and within a short while gave his wines an unprecedented international reputation which culminated in the 100 Parker points obtained for the 2009 vintage.
Nowadays, Château Pape Clément combines the best of tradition (e.g. animal traction) with the latest innovations for producing exceptional wines. In their 63 ha of gravel, sand, clay and limestone soils, the mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc vines work hand in a very narrow plantation framework to offer the best of themselves. The rows are cultivated alternately, allowing vegetation to grow spontaneously, which forces the plants to make even more effort in their search for water and nutrients. Work, ruled by strict principles of sustainable agriculture, is carried out meticulously and manually, and only the choicest fruits reach the winery. The various parcels are vinified separately in different tanks, with each grape variety's requirements carefully catered for, so that the estate exhibit all its diversity in the final assemblage.
Alongside Château Pape Clément, the group of wineries run by Bernard Madrez includes other estates such as Château La Tour Carnet, Château Fombrauge and Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey among others, as well as the project set up in Spain with the actor Gerard Dépardieu, Bernard Magrez - Gérard Dépardieu.