For day one of the “Bowtie Diaries” click here.
It would be remiss if we didn’t see André Lurton and Lucien Lurton’s properties while in Bordeaux. So, we dedicated our second day of travel to doing just that. The Lurton family name is synonymous with excellent Bordeaux wines. Siblings André, Lucien, Simone and Dominque have all been a part of the wine business since their parents, François and Denise Lurton, first started Château Bonnet in the early 1900s. On this trip we focused on the properties of the two brothers, André and Lucien. André still runs most of his properties along with his children, while Lucien stepped out of the wine business some years ago and his 10 children manage and operate all of his properties today.
One of André Lurton’s most famous properties is Château La Louvière, which he purchased in 1965 and is located on the Left Bank. The Left Bank is made up of three main regions: Médoc, Haut- Médoc and Graves. Château La Louvière is located in the southern part of the Left Bank in the region of Graves, Pessac-Léognan. In the Left Bank, the grape that is most commonly grown is Cabernet Sauvignon. Château La Louvière produces highly rated Cabernets (90+ from Wine Spectator) on a beautiful estate that dates back to the 16th century. So beautiful, in fact, that the estate is listed on France’s Inventory of Historical Monuments.
We spent the morning taking a tour of the chateau with Veronique Bouffard, who is head of communications at La Louvière. Here, even the bathroom is a work of art. Check out the marble tub from 1791 that is still in use today!
Before making our way north from Graves into the larger region of the Left Bank, known as the Médoc, we were off to one of Lucien Lurton’s properties, Château de Camarsac, in Entre-deux-Mers. Entre-deux-Mers (literally “Between Two Seas”) is located between the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers that lead into the Gironde estuary. With one of the largest appellations in Bordeaux, Entre-deux-Mers has 7,400 acres of vineyards that produce white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle) and red wine (mostly Merlot, which is sold under the name Bordeaux Supérieur AC).
At Château de Camarsac, we met up with François Villars, who works for La Passion des Terriors, one of the top négociants in Bordeaux for selling and distributing Lucien Lurton wines, as well as Thierry Lurton, who owns and lives at the château with his wife and two children. Thierry is one of the six sons of Lucien Lurton who purchased the 12th century château in 1973. When not focusing on producing their signature wine, Château de Camarsac Bordeaux Supérieur, Thierry and his family spend their time slowly renovating the back half of the castle that was damaged after it caught fire in the 18th century (yes, it’s still under construction). One interesting observation about Château de Camarsac is that some of the windows in the front of the château are bricked in. While one may think that this has something to do with the fire, it actually dates back to the 18th century when there was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. To avoid the tax, some châteaux in Bordeaux, like Château de Camarsac, bricked-up the window spaces.
Back on the D2 – or Route des Châteaux, the main road that runs through the majority of the wine country along the Gironde estuary – we were on our way to our final stop of the day, Château Haut-Bages Libéral in Pauillac. Pauillac (pronounced POY-yac) is considered the wine capital of the Left Bank. It is the world’s benchmark for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape; the gravelly soils here provide the optimal drainage needed for the grapevines. Some of the most exclusive châteaux are in Pauillac and neighboring Château Haut-Bages Libéral, including Château Latour and Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron. Thus, the location of Château Haut-Bages Libéral makes the wines that they produce one of the best kept secrets in the Left Bank, as they are often a fraction of the price (though still north of $70) of their famous neighbors. The proprietor of Château Haut-Bages Liberal is Claire Villars-Lurton, Gonzague Lurton’s (son of Lucien Lurton) wife and sister to François Villars. The name of the property originates from its geographic location — virtually atop the Bages plateau between Pauillac and Saint-Julien, a commune north of Pauillac — and the first owners of the estate, the Libéral family. Claire was a very gracious host, as we spent the remaining evenings of our trip staying at her château.
We ended our day having duck confit for dinner with the Villars at Café Lavinal in the Village of Bages, next to Château Haut-Bages Libéral, and drinking their ’05 vintage, which received 93 points from Wine Spectator. What a great way to end our second day in Bordeaux!.
Check back tomorrow for Alfio’s final day of adventures in Bordeaux …
For more photos from the trip, visit our Flickr page!
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