With the deadlines for the 2018 edition of the Millesima Blog Awards just around the corner, we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Chateau Clerc Milon, a 5th Growth classified in 1855 and located in the Pauillac appellation. Let’s take a closer look at the history, terroir and know-how of this majestic and historical property whose wonderful wines will be tasted by the finalists during their visit to Bordeaux in the month of April.
History of a 1855 Cru Classe
The history of Chateau Clerc Milon extends back in time to the 18th century, when it belonged to the prestigious seigneury of Lafite. Following the French Revolution, the property was acquired in 1789 by the Clerc family. Soon after the family name was combined with that of the Milon hamlet of Pauillac, where the property was located. A few decades later, Chateau Clerc Milon received the Fifth Growth ranking in the prestigious 1855 Classification, joining some of the most prestigious chateaux of the Medoc. For a long time, the wines produced by the estate had a wonderful reputation, especially for their clear expression of their legendary terroir. However, declining sales due, in large part, to the effects of the war and a decline in sales ravaged Chateau Clerc Milon, whose vines were neglected. By the 1960’s, 30 planted hectares had shrunk to only 15 hectares of usable vines. The rest was sold off, parcel by parcel. But in 1970, the historical estate would arise like a phoenix from its proverbial ashes. In that year Baron Philippe de Rothschild purchased the property, inspired by the potential he saw in the soil and willing to add the chateau to the family’s two other wines, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau d’Armahailhac. First came the land, a re-purchasing of land planted with wines and a fine-tuning of the viticultural and vinification techniques employed on the estate. Next came marketing. To breathe a breath of fresh air into the chateau’s brand image, he chose to decorate its two labels with illustrations from 17th and 18th century German goldsmiths, previously housed at the Museum of Wine in Art at Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The same label now depicts a precious miniature, inspired by characters from the Commedia dell’Arte, that once belonged to Catherine II, Empress of Russia. Baronness Philippine de Rothschild chose this image because it reminded her of her love for the theater, to which she devoted part of her life.
From historical beginnings, the winery has blended tradition with technology by introducing, in 2007, a gravity-fed vat room. In 2011, a 3,600 m2 complex was added to a property, complete with a half-underground barrel hall, cellar, reception area and tasting rooms. A collaboration between scenographer Richard Peduzzi and architect Bernard Mazieres gave rise to a rectangular design, a building wood resembling a temple in shape. From the terrace of the chateaux one can see the nearby vines of the estate’s prestigious First Growth neighbours, including Mouton and Lafite Rothschild.
The Terroir and Know-How of Chateau Clerc Mil
Chateau Clerc Milon now extends over 41 hectares of vines in the appellation of Pauillac, perched atop a crest overlooking the Gironde River. The latter serves to create a unique microclimate that protects the vines from frost during the spring and keeps the area cool in the hottest months of summer. The vines are planted on a slight slope with excellent natural drainage and an ideal exposure to sunlight, which favours the optimal ripening of the berries before harvest. The property is divided between the five chief varietals typical of the region, with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere. The vines are some of the oldest that can be found in the Medoc. Around 53 years old on average, they are planted in soil made up of 2/3 sandy gravel over a clay-limestone base. The estate produces wines truly emblematic of the Pauillac appellation’s terroirs – powerful, tannic and fruity blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The grapes are harvested exclusively by hand, using 12-kilo baskets. They undergo a careful sorting process at the winery before being transferred by gravity into one of the 40 vats. The gravity-fed design reduces the need for pumps, which can otherwise harm the sensitive skins of the grapes. The wines are aged for 16 to 18 months in oak barrels, of which 40% are new. The barrels are racked either once, twice or three times during the maturation process. Traditional fining is used to smooth out the tannins in the wine and clarify the liquid before bottling. The estate produces two cuvees. The Chateau Clerc Milon has become known for its intense, complex and robust blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, matured in oak casks (around 30% new) for 18 months. The estate also produces a round and subtle second wine called Pastourelle de Clerc Milon, named after a cheerful local dance called the pastourelle.
Chateau Clerc Milon and the 2018 Millesima Blog Awards
We are excited to announce our partnership with Chateau Clerc Milon for the 2018 edition of the Millesima Blog Awards. The talented winners of this year’s competition will have the chance to visit the property, tour the facilities, learn about the rich winemaking legacy of Pauillac and taste some of the chateau’s wines. We’re excited to work together with Chateau Clerc Milon to make the winners’ trip to Bordeaux an unforgettable experience!