Château Durfort Vivens

France, Bordeaux

Margaux Deuxième cru 1855 The Durfort de Duras family came to Bordeaux in the 14th Century and laid the foundations of today's estate. They also, for a while, owned the near-by Château Lamothe (which went on to become Château Margaux). In 1824 the family sold to a Monsieur de Vivens who appended his name to his new property. Under his watch, Durfort-Vivens was awarded Second Growth status in 1855, a status it has often struggled to live up to. In 1937 the company that owned Château Margaux bought Durfort-Vivens and it was, once again, in common ownership with the villages grandest estate. Indeed, until 1961 when Durfort-Vivens was sold to Lucien Lurton, the wine from Château Durfort Vivens was made at Château Margaux. The period of Lurton ownership has seen slow steady progress for Durfort-Vivens particularly since Lucien's son Gonzague took over and had a new chai built in the 1990's. The vineyards are planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. The Grand Vin spends 18 months in wood, of which between 23% and 45% are new each year. Durfort-Vivens is a steady performer, offering good value, although most modern ratings would struggle to rate the estate as a Second Growth.

Gonzague Lurton has always stayed true to the notion of finesse at his 47ha estate, but with second growth status the wine hasn't always convinced. Since 2009 he has turned to biodynamics, the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated vineyard being cultivated entirely in that way by 2013, and the wines have found a new vitality. 'I was sceptical before, but tasted some biodynamic wines and found the tension I'd been looking for,' he explains. The progress is evident in 2011, 2012 and 2013, which bodes well for the future. Pricing, too, remains attractive. (One of 'Six châteaux raising their game.) Decanter Magazine (May 2015)