Château de La Dauphine

France, Bordeaux

The château on this property was built between 1744 and 1750. Soon after it was built, it has a visit from the Dauphine of France, wife of the son of Louis the XV. She was also mother to later kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X. The name of the château was changed to honour this visit.

In 1985, François-Régis Marcetteau de Brem sold La Dauphine to the Moueix family of Libourne (owners of Trotanoy and Pétrus). They sold it to Jean Halley in 2000, and after his death in 2011, his son Guillaume began a complete renovation starting with a new, state of the art wine-making facility, and began a move towards 100% organic farming. They are now using biodynamic preparations as well. The property has been certified organic since the 2015 vintage, and coincidentally, this was when the current owners, the Labrune family, bought it. They announced themselves keen to continue the direction of travel, and have expanded the property by buying neighbouring Vrai Canon Bouché.

The property is now 66 hectares, making it one of the largest in the Libournais. It's planted with 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc vines that grow on hillsides. The wine is fermented over 20 days in concrete vats and aged for 12 months in French oak barrels with 30% renewed each year, although like a lot of Bordeaux properties they are also experimenting with ageing an amphora. The wine has a substantial capacity to improve further with age. Consultant oenologist; Michel Rolland. Production 150,000 bottles.

Owned by supermarket owner Guillaume Halley, with Michael Roland as consultant. If you want a modern, expertly made example of what Fronsac can produce, this is a great place to start. The 40-hectare La Dauphine is converting to organic farming, and hopes to be certified this year (this is despite losing 90% or its yield in 2013 and 50% in 2012 from the change) because, as director Stephanie Barousse says, 'we believe in it'. (One of Decanter's six producers to watch in Fronsac). Decanter Magazine  (Jan 2015)