Château Climens, 2013 Update

As a brief test of your Bordeaux knowledge, try taking a pen and paper, and quickly drawing up a short list of châteaux – you can choose any from the 10,000 or so reputed to exist in the region – that are fully converted and certified for biodynamic viticulture. Don’t groan, especially if like me you can never find a clean sheet of writing paper when you need one. The back of an envelope will do. Or, failing that, maybe an old till receipt. Don’t worry if all you can find is a used postage stamp, you can still participate. Right, if you’re ready, off you go. I’ll give you one minute.

Time’s up! Now, admit it, how far past Château Pontet-Canet did you get?

That Château Pontet-Canet has been the only certified grand cru classé estate in Bordeaux for so long now it began to feel like immutable fact. Of course, I didn’t ask for just cru classé châteaux, so well done if you thought of (you didn’t really go find pen and paper, did you?) any others. You could have had Château Gombaude-Guillot, Château Mazeyres (both Pomerol), Château Fonroque (St Emilion), Clos Puy Arnaud (Castillon), Château Falfas, Château Fougas, Château la Grolet, (all around Bourg), and no doubt one or two others that have slipped my mind. The list is set to grow longer in the future, as many in Bordeaux have experimented with biodynamics, including both Château Latour (who had 6 hectares converted when I enquired last year) and Château Margaux (Paul Pontallier has both organic and biodynamic vines – see my report on a tasting of his ‘research wines’ for more detail). And others are committed to full conversion, most significantly Château Durfort-Vivens, where Gonzague Lurton has been converting sections of the vineyard since 2009, and will be 100% biodynamic for the storm-battered 2013 vintage (not a great year to start, I am sure).

Château Climens

So what has all this to do with Château Climens?

The fact is, although there is no doubt that Château Pontet-Canet is the poster boy for biodynamics in Bordeaux, ticking all the boxes for a good story, i.e. an impassioned winemaker (Jean-Michel Comme – his name crops up again later) with slightly idiosyncratic ideas, full use of biodynamic preparations (from herb tisanes to talcum powder) in the vineyard, crazy cement vats of Comme’s design, and of course top-quality wine, the Pauillac estate is no longer the only cru classé estate fully converted to biodynamics. Without undue fuss, in a little corner of Bordeaux known as Barsac, Château Climenspremier cru classé in the 1855 classification of Sauternes and Barsac and regarded by many as second only to Yquem in the Sauternes and Barsac appellations – has been converted by proprietor Bérénice Lurton (Gonzague’s sister – this surely can’t be coincidence) to biodynamics.

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