I thought it would be useful if I told you a little bit about the chateaux and their owners who are hosting some of the 2012 En Primeur tastings this year.
Chateau Olivier – Graves and Pessac Léognan
The beautiful Chateau Oliver lies at the heart of a large estate in the commune of Leognan comprising of 220 hectares of park and woodland – 50 hectares of which are vineyards and it is one of only 7 Pessac Léognan estates to be classified in both red and white wine.
Olivier is a very old seigniory, dating back to the Middle Ages when it was occupied by the d’Olivey family in the 1300s. It is said that the Black Prince enjoyed hunting there as the surrounding forests were so well-stocked in game. Since the 19th century the estate has belonged to an old Bordeaux family in the shape of the Bethmanns, Alexandre de Bethmann having taken over in 2012.
Chateau Phélan Ségur – Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint Estèphe
Phelan Segur lies in the commune of Saint Estephe neighbouring Chateaux Calon Segur and Montrose. This chateau has Irish roots – as do several of the chateaux in Bordeaux. Bernard Phelan, a young Irish wine broker (born in Clonmel, County Tipperary in 1770) settled in Bordeaux.
He married into the French wine merchant family Guestier and acquired two estates: Clos de Garamey in 1805 and Segur de Cabanc in 1810, which he combined to create Phelan Segur.
Today the chateau is owned by the Gardiner family who sold 22 hectares of vines to Chateau Montrose in 2010. These vines had previously once been part of the Montrose vineyard and the Gardiniers used the money to renovate their winery and update their facilities (completed in 2011).
Chateau Labégorce – Margaux
Chateau Labegorce lies in the commune of Margaux and was a large estate owned by the Gorce (or Gorsse) family dating back to the 14th century. After the French Revolution in 1795 the estate was divided into three: Labégorce, Labégorce-Zédé and L’Abbé Gorsse de Gorsse.
However in 1989 Hubert Perrodo purchased Labégorce and he is responsible for unifying the estate. In 2002 Perrodo bought the chateau building at L’Abbé Gorsse de Gorsse (Chateau Margaux had acquired the vineyards earlier) and in 2005 he purchased Labégorce-Zédé from Luc Thienpont.
Sadly Perrodo died in a skiing accident in 2006 but his daughter, Nathalie, has carried on the work he started. Nathalie not only manages the 57 hectares of Labégorce vineyards but also those of the family’s other estate the Margaux Third Growth Chateau Marquis Alesme Becker. She is assisted by the consultants Claude Gros (who also advises at Chateau La Fleur Morange) and Michel Rolland.
Chateau Fourcas Hosten – Médoc, Haut Médoc, Moulis and Listrac
Fourcas Hosten lies at the heart of the commune of Listrac in a magnificent 3 hectare park, complete with Chartreuse style chateau in the shadow of the bell tower of the old Roman church. The chateau takes its name from the old lie dit of Fourcas (which is also found in the names of other chateaux in this aread) and from the Hosten family who owned it in 1810.
The chateau and its 47 hectares of vines was purchased by the brothers Renaud and Laurent Mommeja in 2006. The Mommeja family are behind the Hermès fashion label but the chateau is a private enterprise. The two brothers embarked on an extensive period of renovation and rejuvenation at the chateau which was completed in July 2012. This included a new winery in 2010 and tasting room.
As you can see these are all chateaux that have benefited from recent renovation and new direction so it will be interesting to visit them and see their progress. I will be writing about the chateaux hosting Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Sauternes and Barsac later in the week.