Château Le Pape
In the spring of 2013 I found myself once again in Bordeaux, ready to get to grips with the latest vintage during a week of primeur tastings. Working my way through Pessac-Léognan I eventually came, at midday, to Château Haut-Bailly not just to taste the result of all their efforts in the 2012 vintage, but also to take advantage of a fifteen-vintage vertical they had promised me, to celebrate fifteen years of ownership by the late Robert Wilmers (1934 – 2019). These are, after all, opportunities one simply can’t turn down.
You might think the talking point of the tasting would be whether the 2005 vintage was superior to the 2000, or how the under-rated 1998 vintage stacked up against the 1996. As it turned out though, the real buzz concerned the recent purchase by Robert of Château Le Pape, an estate hidden just around the corner from Château Haut-Bailly. A domaine with a chronically low profile, Château Le Pape was nevertheless in possession of good terroir, and it seemed to be hidden in plain sight, nestled among a number of classed growths. In was clearly ripe for new investment, and it seemed that we could expect improvements in the quality of the wine as a result.
A few years on from that first encounter with the domaine, this profile looks at the full story of Château Le Pape, in particular the changes put in place since the acquisition of the domaine by Robert Wilmers. First, though, I begin with what I have gleaned about the domaine’s origins and history.