Jane Anson, writing for Decanter.com, has reported that Domaine Clarence Dillon, owners of Chateau Haut Brion has bought Chateau L’Arrosée, a Grand Cru Classé estate in Saint Emilion. The purchase has been made through the Quintus SAS (Haut Brion bought Chateau Tertre Daugay a while back and renamed the estate Chateau Quintus). L’Arrosée neighbours Quintus as well as Fonplegade, Gaffeliere and Berliquet.
A spokesperson for Clarence Dillon confirmed the sale to Decanter, and said no decisions on the running of the property would be taken until September. This is third purchase for Haut Brion in recent times as as they purchased Domaine Allary Haut Brion last Winter. Unlike their two Saint Emilion estates Domaine Allary lies practically on Haut Brion’s doorstep. (You can read the story here).
L’Arrosée’s vineyards cover 9.5 hectares (23 acres) and unusually for Saint Emilion a large percentage of the grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon (20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 60% Merlot). The estate takes its name from small underground springs which flow 10 metres below ground in the vineyards (arrosée means ‘watered’). It was sold by the Caille family who had owned the estate since 2002. The chateau is renowned for producing elegant wines which some have described as having an almost Burgundian quality. The Caille family invested in a brand new high tech winery, revitalising the chateau – which has since gained an excellent reputation.
L’Arrosée was first mentioned on the map in 1783 (lieu dit Larrosee) and by 1868 it was listed in Le Féret among the Saint Emilion Premiers Crus having won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in 1867. It was purchased in 1868 by Pierre Magne, Finance Minister to Napoleon III who also owned a number of properties including Chateau de Montaigne and Chateau Franc Mayne. On his death L’Arrosée was inherited by his daughter Mary who was married to the French Ambassador in Austria (and later in Bulgaria, Egypt and Spain). In her absence the estate was managed by the Dupuch family (owners of Domaine Bigaroux) who later purchased L’Arrosée in 1911.
In 1931 Georges Dupuch was involved in the creation of the Cooperative of Saint Emilion, to which he donated part of L’Arrosée’s vineyard located on sandy soils at the foot of the hill. After his death in 1938 his son in law, Pierre Rodhain, inherited the estate and in 1955 L’Arrosée was ranked as Grand Cru Classé – a position it has held ever since.
L’Arrosée was bought in 2002 by Roger Caille and is son Jean Philippe and that same year a few plots were detached and used to create Chateau L’Armont – I am not sure whether Haut Brion have purchased L’Armont as well or whether it remains in the hands of the Caille family. I suspect the latter.
Gilles Pauquet is currently consultant oenologist at L’Arrosée. To date, the Clarence Dillon estates use their own oenologists, director Jean-Philippe Delmas and technical director Jean-Philippe Masclef.