The top-tier wine from Château Clarke is rich, concentrated and ripe, which is why it is now a gold standard in the southern Médoc district. Its grapes are manually harvested from low-yield plots, then sorted in the storehouse and channeled into the tanks by gravity. The wines are aged mostly in new barrels, where they mature for 14 to 18 months.
In the early 1970s, Edmond de Rothschild, who already held a stake in Château Lafite-Rothschild, decided he wanted to purchase another estate in the Médoc. The Baron was game for the challenge posed by an atypical property: Château Clarke. The estate has a rich history. Purchased in the 18th century by its namesake Irish family, Château Clarke became quite famous in the early 20th century before it was gradually forgotten. The chateau was once widely admired for the quality of its red wines, as well as for its white wines, which is rare in the region. Production of the cleverly named "Merle Blanc de Château Clarke" began around 1890. Intrigued by these details and eager to restore luster to the estate's legacy and wines, Edmond de Rothschild purchased Château Clarke in 1973.
Edmond de Rothschild chose to redesign the vineyard: the existing vines were completely uprooted and replanted. This time-consuming effort, which further delayed wine production, was a big risk. The process began in 1974 and was not completed until 1979. The acquisition of the estate was accompanied by a bold show of independence: the Baron decided to market Château Clarke wines outside the Bordeaux wine selling system. In 1998, Benjamin de Rothschild took the reins of Château Clarke from his father. He launched a new series of investments which included renovating the fermentation room and calling on the expertise of oenologist Michel Rolland.
- 1771Irishman Tobie Clarke buys the estate
- 1890First Merle Blanc produced
- 1973Edmond de Rothschild buys the estate
- 1998Oenologist Michel Rolland joins as consultant
- 2001Vat room renovated with wooden vats
A joint venture
The acquisition of Château Clarke could be viewed as the first step in the creation of the Compagnie Vinicole Edmond de Rothschild. This daring project came about through one man's passion for a terroir. It led Edmond de Rothschild to define the contours of the philosophy that guides the Compagnie Vinicole: patience, hard work, independence, control over production from vine to cellar and a never-ending quest for quality. The goal is to choose the best soils to bring out all the characteristic features of the local vine varieties.
The vines grow in clay-limestone soil and are predominantly merlot, making this fine wine from Château Clarke Baron Edmond de Rothschild an unusual blend for the Médoc region.
The Château Clarke estate is in the southern part of the Médoc within the Listrac-Médoc appellation. Its inland location is far from the Gironde estuary in the middle of the limestone plateau. The property has a private, protected setting. A distinctive feature of the estate's clay-limestone soil is its remarkable drought resistance. The nearness of the Atlantic Ocean gives it a cool freshness that is echoed in the wine's bright bouquet. The terroir is very well suited to growing merlot grapes in a region where cabernet sauvignon is traditionally king. Thus Château Clarke is typical of the Médoc, but in an entirely original way. The vast majority of its plots are planted with red grape varieties: merlot accounts for 70% of the 55 hectares and the remaining space is devoted to cabernet sauvignon. Sauvignon blanc, muscadelle and sémillon, which are used in the Merle Blanc blend, occupy a small, three-hectare space for limited production.