Château Larrivet Haut-Brion
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion
The rebirth of a great vineyard of Pessac-Léognan
The oldest traces of wine were found on the Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion and date back to at least the mid 18th century. The history of this castle is marked by women. In fact, almost all of the owners and heirs of this area were and are still women.
The history of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion is the story of a renowned property in the 19th century which was subsequently dismembered. In the 19th century, the vineyards spread over nearly 100 hectares of which 60 hectares are vines. The rest were for the polyculture and the park. Evidenced by the 1898 edition of the Feret Guide ranking this property as “Cru Exceptionnel” the wines of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion figured among the most prominent of Pessac-Leognan until 1930, a period during which the general crisis of viticulture and numerous uprooting damaged quality production.
When one looks at the history of this property, they can not mention the numerous name changes. In the mid 19th century the property was known as the “Chateau Conolle” (in honor of the Marquise of the same name). During the end of the same century the property changed it’s name many times under the leadership of new owners, so she was called “Chateau Rivets” and “Chateau Brion-Larrivet.”
It was not until 1874 that Mr. Ernest Laurent, who owned the domain name, gave a close to the current name of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion. In 1929, following an agreement with the Château Haut-Brion the property takes his final title Château Larrivet Haut-Brion.
Thereafter, the property dwindled until 1987 when it was purchased by the Gervoson family. At the time of redemption the vineyard was in a state of dismemberment and advanced to the point that even the castle was no longer part of the property near demise. The Gervoson family then embarked on a policy of reconstruction and acquisition of vineyards in order to restore as it was the time of the splendor of Larrivet Haut-Brion. They also bought the Castle and fully restored it.
The Gervoson family has not always worked in viticulture. Previously she was the founding family of the food group, Andros. Being the family from the Lot, it had no connection with the wine but very attached to the land it had sought since the early 1980’s to acquire a great terroir in Bordeaux. What triggered this purchase was a historic share of this property and also the magnitude of the task ahead to restore Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion as it was at the time of it’s greatest years. Along with this, the date is the beginning of the creation of the Pessac-Leognan appellation which was an opportunity, but also a challenge worthy of a second family entrepreneur.
The Gervoson family and his team strive to restore the former glory of yesteryear Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion, paying particular attention to the balance between the soil and the vine (aves among other on-grafting merlot cabernet sauvignon).
Meet the turn of a glass of wine, Bruno Lemoine, CEO of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion.
He originally came from Paris and his passion for the world of wine began in his teens and he starting learning by reading books and tasting wine. After preparatory classes (Math Sup, Math Spe) in Chaptal high school in Paris, he joined the Ecole Nationale Superieure Agronomique of Montpellier and it naturally follows the speciatly wine-eno. He began his working life in 1985 in the properties Dynasty in China for Remy Martin where he stayed 16 months.
On his return to France he joined his wife in Bordeaux and began to seek employment in the region. He began in the region as Engineer experimentation at the Technical Institute of Wine during for two years. Then came the Chateau Montrose (Saint-Estephe) in 1989 as Technical Director. He remained there until 1997. Then he took the Directorate General of Chateau Lascombes (Margaux) until 2001. After further experiments in Bordeaux and Cognac (Cognac MARTELL) he was appointed CEO of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion in June 2007.
How did Bruno Lemoine describe his passion for wine?
As a passion. “In the beginning I knew I was interested in wine and my holiday was dedicated to wine. Like I said, it was therefore more than a time-consuming hobby and passion. Over time I learned to focus on other things such as music but I am an avid wine lover and diversity.”
Etymology of the name “Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion”
“Larrivet” came from the name of a small river running on the field. “Larrivet” appeared for the first time in 1929 wen setting the new name of Chateau Canolle in Domaine Larrivet Haut-Brion.
Regarding the name “Haut-Brion” two etymologies are possible. The first is that the name comes from ancient French and means “small hill” (the gravel mounds). The second says that the name actually mean “small stones that shine” in reference to serious show on earth.
What allows you to recognize the taste of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion wines?
Let’s start with the red wines: A History “bound to the land and the work of Michel Rolland, a man particularly attached to the wines of the right coast of the Garonne. Our wines have so much of Merlot and a fairly mature style compared to other properties of Pessac-Leognan. Over time, it has reduced the proportion of Merlot to increase the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in order to move towards a more classic style Pessac Leognan. However, our wine is recognizable by its share of Merlot which remains important. We are looking for elegance, racy wines, reasonably powerful, with smoky/grilled notes. The wines are now a little more marked by Cabernet Sauvignon. “(Bruno Lemoine)
As for white wines: “All decisions are made in common but for whites it especially feels like the Winemaker, Patrick Meraz, has a passion for white wines. We are looking for high-end wines, low yields and great concentration. Wines are in agreements with their land.” (Bruno Lemoine)
- 75 hectares of vineyards
- Grape Varieties: 11 hectares of wine (80% Sauvignon, 20% Semillon) and 64 hectares of red (50% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc)
- Production: 6 Labels of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan) in red, Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan) in White, Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan) red and Les Hauts de Larrivet Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan) in red and white.
- Soil: Lot of ‘graves” in all the vineyard but more specifically 22 different soil types.
- Agriculture: reasoned but not certified (reduction of inputs, cover crops, tillage…)
- Manual harvest in crates.
- Management fragmented view micro-plots of the vineyard
- Small feature worth statement: Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion is one of the few castles in Bordeaux to use ’foudres barrels’ (27 hl), renewed every six years, the aging of the second red wine (Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion). The second aged for a third in wine barrels for two years, 1/3 ’foudres barrels’ and third tank. This gives it a lighter and large wooded freshness.
- The first wine, Chateau Haut-Brion Larrivet aged: red for 1/3 new barrels, 1/3 of the wine barrels and a third barrel for two or three wines. This was done for 14-16 months. White is high and is then fermented on lees in a barrel for a year with 70% new barrels and 30% in concrete egg (see photo). This year an experiment was conducted with wooden vats with brewer links for white wines.
An experiment was conducted in 2011 with the 2009 vintage. 3 barrels of 56 liters of the red wine of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion (having been aged for 16 months in barrels) have undergone different aging. The party with Daniel Boulogne browser on a boat for a trip around the world was quickly aborted due to a problem with the boat. A second boat was immersed for 6 months in the oyster bed in the Arcachon bay by Joel Dupuch (the oyster farmer who played in the film Little White Lies). He stood at the third gently in the cellars of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion.
The result on arrival wines had evolved differently. The comparative tasting of three wines (the 2009 classic, the 2009 + 6 months of aging in the cellars barrels in 2009 and with 6 months in the oyster park) was very interesting.
The wine that has stayed partly under water appears rounder and softer with aromatic notes exacerbated. The physico-chemical analysis confirmed this wine with an accelerated polymerization of tannins and a slight salinity aging (80 mg Na/I) exhaust the taste of wine. This comparative tasting will continue over the next 10 years.
Time for the tasting: (May 2013)
- Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion 2010 (Pessac Leognan) dry white wine: The nose is fruity (including peach) and floral. The palate is round and fresh with a hint of bitterness. He develops notes of citrus (lemon, pink grapefruit), exotic fruits (papaya, pineapple) and along with some dried fruit in the mouth white fruit. Slightly woody just perfect mouth. The final is long and citrus notes. A “favorite wine“.
A wine that I would take pleasure in accord with a crisp fillet of red mullet with fennel, crab and chive vinaigrette (admit that it makes you hungry! Apologies to those who are still eating their sandwich at work …)
- Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2009 (Pessac Leognan) dry white wine: A more complex than the previous wine. The nose is fruity, marked by notes of white flowers and makes you want to dive into the glass lip. In the mouth it develops citrus notes, quince accompanied by a slight toasted vanilla and hints of exotic fruits. Roundness and minerality.
In agreement I would put the wine with a sea bass carpaccio marinated in citrus.
- Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion 2010 (Pessac Leognan) red wine: nose marked by cherry, fruit and toasted side. On the palate this Cabernet is very particular with notes of black fruits (cassis, blackberry and black cherry), some red fruit combined with notes of violet as well as hot flavors (coffee, woody). Minerality, and the fleshy roundness. The tannins are well made. The finish is medium long. A delightful wine.
To associate with polpette with an homemade tomato sauce and with tagliatelle.
- Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2008 (Pessac Leognan) red wine: A nose of beautiful complexity of black fruit, toasty notes and spices (cedar). The palate is powerful, full, juicy fruits on. He reveals notes of cassis, blackberries, cherries, some red fruits, hints of liquorice, flowery and some woody / roasted notes notes. A good frame acid. The tannins are silky and not desiccating. The finish is long and pleasant. It is with great pleasure that I class this wine in my “favorite wine“.
To marry this wine I propose a Roasted duck breast with a confit duck, foie gras and potato stack.
Thanks to Bruno Lemoine and the team for the hospitality.
Choukroun Chicheportiche Jonathan
NB: the castel’ library (over 70 photos) available here.
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion
84 Avenue de Cadaujac