French Wines Worthy of Indulgences: Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009


Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009

Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009
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Approximate preorder price: $140/bottle
In the Middle Ages, Pope Clément V reformed the Catholic Church’s practice of granting indulgences, in which some priests may have implied that sins could be forgiven for generous contributions to the Church. Now, seven centuries later, his name is still associated with indulgences of a different sort, in the form of the exceptional French wines produced at Château Pape Clément.
At Vinexpo last month, in Bordeaux, les vignerons bordelais were all abuzz with the thrill of the outstanding back-to-back 2009 and 2010 vintages. Many producers were showing off the wonderful extraction of their 2010s and finding new ways of courting their ever-increasing Asian market. Because the reds are still in barrel and will be for some time, if you want to taste an excellent example of what the 2009 whites have to offer, you may want to preorder the Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009 from the Pessac-Léognan appellation in Graves (it will likely sell out very quickly).
A traditional yet concentrated blend of sauvignon blanc, sémillon and muscadelle, the wine shows the attractive combination of spicy vanilla oak married to ripe fruit flavors of peach, apple, melon and lime zest. The acidity is not particularly high, but the integration of new oak is a major component to this wine not only on the nose, where a stylish toastiness is immediately evident, but also on the palate, with a creamy texture and very long finish. Because of its softness and lower acidity, however, it will not be an ideal candidate for cellaring and should be enjoyed over the next five years.
The château’s characteristic label is ornamented with the pope’s keys or the keys to the kingdom of heaven as a symbol of his authority. Because of the pedigree of the château as well as the scarcity of the wine, the Pape Clément Blanc is priced at a level that suggests a rare indulgence (the forgiveness of which is of course guaranteed). While there are many more-affordable white wines with comparable quality available, if you are curious about the more esoteric concepts of “pedigree” and “quintessential expressions” of the 2009 vintage itself, you will find the Pape Clément Blanc 2009 to be un très bon exemple indeed.
For accompaniments, lobster comes to mind, or perhaps lightly grilled seafood, to echo the toastiness of the wine. Moreover, truffles and Pape Clément Blanc would, most likely, present you with the keys to the kingdom!
Editor’s note: Food and wine lovers heading to Paris might want to try one of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite cooking classes.