History, The Guarantor of Excellence
The exceptionally distinguished Château Climens, whose outstanding past spans several centuries, became known as the “Lord of Barsac” very early on. The history of this prestigious growth is characterised by unfailing continuity enabling only the very best to be coaxed out of this unique terroir. At the same time, it has meant that ongoing upkeep and perfection of its ancestral heritage is possible.
Only five families have owned the estate from its origins. This is a rare occurrence which explains why its surface area in a continuous single vineyard has practically remained unchanged since the date of its creation.
The name Climens appeared for the first time on a contract dated 1547, in which it is stated that Girault Roborel, the King’s advocate in Barsac, had inherited a part of this land from his father. The two names, Climens and Roborel, would soon become one family name, the Roborel de Climens family who built up the domain over more than two centuries. An elegant, discreet Chartreuse (traditional local architectural style home) built in the 17th century is a telling indication of the domain’s distinguished past. However, historical unrest would get the better of this joint venture and the well established domain was damaged during the French Revolution. The widow of Jean-Baptiste Roborel de Climens sold it in 1802. Jean Binaud who bought it knew what he was doing: a Bordeaux wine merchant, he recognised the potential of this property and took great care of it. Thereafter Château Climens belonged to two more families of wine makers who were equally conscious of the value of this unique terroir. It is therefore no surprise that Château Climens was granted First Growth status in 1855. From 1855 the famous printers and journalists from Bordeaux, the Gounouilhou family, took over Climens and kept it for almost a century. In the early 1970s Lucien Lurton started taking an interest in the Sauternes region. This man who is passionate about exceptional terroirs already owned several famous classified growths in the Medoc. He was won over by the finesse of the Climens wines and with great foresight acquired the Château in 1971 despite the crisis that Sauternes wines were undergoing at the time. He brought a determined touch of modernity as well as relentlessly high standards to the domain while respecting both tradition and the centuries-old savoir-faire in particular. It was in 1992 that his daughter Bérénice Lurton took the Château’s destiny into her capable hands. Since then, it is with enthusiasm and determination that she takes great care in perpetuating the precious magic of Château Climens, ensuring that this legendary growth shines with evermore brilliance and grace.
What makes a great terroir
The name Climens means ‘unfertile or poor land’ in a local dialect! That was not taking into account the vine, this prodigious plant which is capable of transforming apparently undesirable soils into terroirs blessed by the gods. Their red soils, a thin layer of clayey sand rich in iron, cover a fossil-rich limestone platform which favours natural drainage.
From a biodynamic point of view, great terroir is born of balance among the four elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. At Climens one’s eye is drawn to the red earth that originates in Fire and is the guarantor of richness. The element Water, found in the clay, balances this natural opulence perfectly by endowing the wine with its fluidity and freshness. The climate is different every year and whether it is the rain or the heat, Water or Fire in varying proportions, it makes each vintage unique.
However, Climens is above all an airborne, weightless wine, devoid of any heaviness. It is the really unusual sands which give it the Air element, guaranteeing the brightness, the elegance and the taut tension that are so characteristic of Château Climens. The limestone which represents the Earth element brings structure and depth to it.
But in order to attain the perfect balance, generations of wine makers have realised that it was necessary to transcend the limestone with a grape variety characteristic of Earth. And so it has been Semillon that imposed itself over the centuries as the one and only variety at Climens. It asserts the originality of the cru as a virtuoso interpreter of this exceptional terroir and is a tremendous vector for Botrytis Cinerea.
With a helping hand from the micro-climate, the ultimate paradox can take place: the arrival of noble rot, which veritably sublimes this natural harmony that one calls the soul of a wine.