Silvio Denz; perfume designer, owner of the Lalique crystal company and of two wine merchants in Zurich, as well as Switzerland’s largest wine auctioneers, has added to his portfolio of chateaux with the purchase of the Sauternes First Growth Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey. The estate was sold by the GDF SUEZ Group, who had owned it since 1984. Denz’s wine estates include Chateaux Faugeres and Peby Faugeres in Saint Emilion, both of which attained Grand Cru Classé status for the first time in the 2012 Saint Emilion Classification. This was quite an accomplishment and certainly well deserved. His other properties are Chateaux Cap de Faugeres (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux), de Chambrun (Pomerol), Rocheyron (Saint Emilion) and Domaine Pingus (Ribera del Duero) – both in partnership with Peter Sisseck, Clos d’Agon (Catalonia) and Montepeloso (Tuscany).
Denz said that “Sauternes is underrated and yet there are beautiful wines made here – both sweet and dry whites.” He has some fantastic plans for the property and follows in the footsteps of in a line of Bordeaux chateaux owners producing red wines who have invested in producing white Sauternes. These include:
d’Yquem (LVMH, who also own Cheval Blanc, Saint Emilion)
Rieussec (Rothschilds, who also own Lafite, Pauillac)
Suduiraut (Axa, who also own Pichon Baron, Paulliac)
Clos Haut Peyraguey (Bernard Magrez, owner of Pape Clement, Pessac Leognan and Fombrauge, Saint Emilion)
Some have seen this investment coupled with the development of dry white wines as a boost for the region; a second wind for Sauternes if you like.
Denz has four aims with regard to Lafaurie Peyraguey. He intends to focus the production of the Grand Vin on the historic vineyard plots at the heart of the property, named L’Enclos and Les Maisons Rouges (which lies on the remains of a Roman camp), which have the best terroir. He intends to increase the dry white production of the estate by launching a high quality dry white, similar to Olivier Bernard’s (Domaine de Chevalier) Clos des Lunes. Denz also wishes to develop wine tourism in Sauternes, which he says lacks places to stay. Lafaurie Peyraguey is not only a beautiful chateau but it has 13 bedrooms and Denz plans to use it as a luxury hotel for guests and events. He would also like to create a common history with Lalique which includes a project to make a line of glasses and decanters for Lafaurie Peyraguey (René Lalique created two lines of decanters and glasses for ‘Yquem’ in 1934 and ‘Barsac’ in 1939).
Lafaurie Peyraguey certainly has an impressive pedigree – it was ranked a First Growth in the 1855 Sauternes and Barsac Classification and lies in the village of Bommes. The stunning chateau was a Benedictine Priory in the 10th century, a hospital run by the Brothers of St Anthony (Antonines) in 1310 and once used as a medieval fort. It’s first recorded owner was Raymond Peyraguey in 1618. Under the ownership of Baron Pichard (one time owner of Chateaux Lafite and Coutet (in Barsac) the estate was known as Chateau Pichard Peyraguey. However after Baron Pichard was guillotined in 1794 the estate was bought by Lafaurie in 1796. It’s reported that the wine was a favourite of King Alphonso XII of Spain.
Over time the chateau became known as Lafaurie Peyraguey and currently it produces 3 wines, the Grand Vin (approx 5,500 cases a year), the Second Wine La Chapelle de Lafaurie and a dry white wine, Le Brut de Lafaurie. The vineyards are planted with 93% Semillon, 6% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle, covering 89 acres (36 hectares). Denz plans to keep technical director Eric Larramona in place.