The name of Château Clément-Pichon raises an immediate and very obvious question. How is this château related, if at all, to those more famous properties that also carry the name of Pichon, Château Pichon-Lalande and Château Pichon-Baron? The commonality is indeed no coincidence, the property having once been in possession of a branch of the same family, cousins to those Pichons who lived on the outskirts of Pauillac. Indeed, this estate was no less prestigious, many of its residents holding influential positions in the Bordeaux parliament, and one even hosted the French king Louis XIV when he was on his travels to and from Spain.
In more recent times, however, the properties have certainly drifted apart. This estate has experienced dereliction, and the vineyard disappeared altogether for a while. It was only in the late-20th century that the property was revitalised by a newcomer to the region, Clément Fayat. The style of wine now made here, after he established the vineyards anew, could also not be more different. Responding to the largely sandy terroir, this is a cru bourgeois estate that almost exclusively features Merlot, with just a soupçon of Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaking would appear to be sound though, and having encountered the wine at a number of tastings it holds up well against some more famous cru bourgeois peers. Château Clément-Pichon is back on the Bordeaux map.
Before coming to this modern-day renaissance, however, I have first detailed the history of the estate. And there is a lot of history to cover, the property dating to at least the 16th century, with no less than three different châteaux having graced the grounds during the last five hundred years. I begin here with Guillaume d’Alesme, resident of the Château de la Motte Caupène in 1574.
The story of this estate can be traced back as far as the 16th century, when it was the seat of Seigneur d’Alesme. There was already a château built here at this time, the Château de la Motte Caupène, although this has long since disappeared. Its resident was Guillaume d’Alesme, seigneur de Parempuyre. He married Marie de Lambert on December 11th 1574, and they had at least nine children, too many to list here. The seigneurie and château were inherited by the first-born son, Jacques d’Alesme, following the death of his father.
Jacques d’Alesme didn’t have an easy time of it; in 1648 he became embroiled in a dispute with the Duc d’Épernon. After three months of laying siege the marauding duke had taken control of Château Trompette, a military fortress in Bordeaux built after the end of the Hundred Years’ War. Despite signing a peace treaty afterwards, he still sent some loyal followers inland to take on Jacques d’Alesme at Château de la Motte Caupène. The building was razed to the ground, and Jacques was forced to rebuild, beginning in 1651. The new building was named Château de Parempuyre; even this is not the château that stands today though – another century or two must pass before that was erected. Today, of Château de la Motte Caupène and Château de Parempuyre only ruins remain, some of which came be glimpsed (pictured above) nestled among the vines and trees.