Château Climens, a Premier Cru estate in Barsac, has one of the more impressive reputations for tradition in Bordeaux. Starting in the 15th century, it was owned by only one family, the Roborels, for over five hundred years, and continues to produce some of the best sweet wines in the world. In contrast to these accolades, however, is the Château’s ironic name, which is derived from the French word for infertile. Thankfully, names can be deceiving.
In 1971, the Roborels sold their estate to the Lurton family, who also owned multiple other châteaux in Bordeaux. But tradition was left intact, as Christian Brouset, a third-generation winemaker and the cellar master at the time, remained during the transition. Climens is known for its 100% Sémillon vineyard, and for wines that are exceptionally citrusy while retaining an elegant balance of sweetness and acidity. With age, they develop a more honeyed profile somewhat similar to the majestic d’Yquem. And, like other producers in Sauternes and Barsac, Climens had also mastered the process of noble rot which comes from the use of Botrytis Cinerea mold to concentrate the sweetness of the fruit. Still, on off-years when Mother Nature’s temperamental trends inhibit proper fruit development, the Grand Vin will not be produced.
Enjoying a characteristically maritime climate, Climens features a predominantly limestone soil that complements Sémillon growth. The fruit is harvested plot-by-plot and fermented in French oak barrels for nearly two years. Some of the best vintages can age for decades without compromise; on the contrary, lucky collectors will find significant richness and opulence even in their older, more mature Climens.
After the Lurtons took ownership of the estate, they began experimenting with biodynamic winemaking and viticulture. By 2014, the operation was certified as entirely biodynamic, with chemical sprays eliminated and replaced by more natural options such as plant infusions. The result has been a wine of more clarity and beauty thanks to the pockets of chamomile and juniper which now populate the land.