Château Climens

There are few more distinctive properties in the Sauternes and Barsac appellations than Château Climens. The château sits atop a very low rise just to the south-west of Château Coutet and Château Doisy-Daëne, the single-story chartreuse-style villa flanked at either end by rectangular towers, each one topped by a slate pyramid for a roof. Bérénice Lurton, for many years the proprietor here, would present her wines in a system as individual as the château; there were, for example, no primeur samples here. Not only did she not participate in Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings, but a visit to the property during the primeurs would not yield a taste of a final or even a proposed blend, but rather a barrel-by-barrel tasting of potential components, more akin to what you might find when visiting Richard Leroy in the Loire Valley rather than a big-name Bordeaux château.

Château Climens

And as for the wine itself, no-one can deny that this too has a distinctive character, with its fresh Barsac acidity and great depth of botrytised fruit. In my opinion this is one of the two big names in Barsac (although there are a good number of delicious wines made in the commune), the most believable challenger to the supremacy of Château d’Yquem, and – provided the weather gods have been kind, and given a crop to harvest – frequently one of the best wines of the vintage.

Of course these days, much has changed here. After a run of very difficult vintages the property was in a precarious financial position, and long-term proprietor Bérénice Lurton was forced to accept outside investment. The new owner came from outside the world of wine. Before we come to that, however, I first present some a history of this estate.

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