A new lease of life, thanks to Sylvie Dulong
Having trained as an œnologist (wine expert) and then spent more than 15 years in a commercial environment, I wanted to return to the true craft of viticulture: following the seasons, respecting the land, and working in harmony with the Atlantic climate of the Bordeaux region.
In 2008, I took over the family business and began a project that truly began to take shape in 2010.
At the Vineyard: the importance of observing and understanding the land led to us stripping those areas that were not up to standard, draining them and replanting them with vines whose stock was better suited to the land.
This significant investment in the vines has paid off by producing some excellent fruit, coaxing the very best from the vines. The grapes had to be harvested at just the right moment, introducing checks for the maturity of each section of vineyard.
Since 2009, the vineyard has been moving over to organic production in order to more fully respect the environment and biodiversity. One section is also set aside to test biodynamic practices, whereby the vines are placed in an environment that encourages cosmic influences to aid development. The wine-grower has to know how to take these influences into account, to listen to and observe the plant.
In the cellar: the existing containers were replaced by smaller stainless steel vats in order to treat the fruit from different plots and vines separately. The cellar was also fitted with a temperature control system for regulating the temperatures of the wine-making and refinement processes. We also completely rebuilt the cellar where the wines are matured in barrels.
Open to the public We welcome visitors to come and share our passion for the vineyard, the wines and this beautiful region, either through staying in one of our chambres d'hôte guest-rooms, by visiting the tasting rooms or visiting the on-site Boutique.
The vineyard, the land and assessing the grapes
Le Château Lavergne-Dulong is a vineyard set over 37 acres.
When the running of the Château and its vineyard was taken over in 2008, we carried out an intense study of the ground and the subsoil. This resulted in a decision to drain the land, a move that was drastic but necessary in order to manage water levels for the vines.
Effectively, the drainage allowed us to avoid water-logging and instead enables us to achieve the water balance that produces a more concentrated mature grape. In addition, replacing any dead vines encourages competition between the vines, which then push their roots deeper down to reach the best nutrients in the soil – resulting in grapes of a higher quality.
Eventually, we decided to take up nearly 20 acres of vines that didn't fit the exacting standards that we'd set for ourselves. The new grape varieties and stock were chosen to correspond to the quality of the soil and subsoil.
The older, mature vines were settled into a sandy-silt soil, more specifically, on a vein of blue clay.
7.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon (30 years old)
10 acres of Merlot (an average of 25 years)
In 2010, we planted:
2.5 acres of Cabernet Franc selected for its aromatic potential, the finesse of its tannins and its longevity. This was planted on an area of clay-silt soil, drained beforehand.
3 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, which will yield a very aromatic white wine in three years' time. This was planted on slightly gravelly land.
A bit of history:
1769 : a farm stood on the site of the current château
1873 : some English wine-lovers, fond of Bordeaux, built the Château, planted vines and added the buildings for the wine production. Built in the style of an English manor-house, its gable is adorned with an image of the original owner. You can also see the construction date (1873) and a large sculpture of a voluptuous, bare-footed muse. Seated, she carries in her left hand a horn of plenty overflowing with fruit and berries; in her other hand is the anchor of Port de la Lune: these are all symbols of a rich trader from that period. Underneath, set in a medallion, you'll find the intertwined initials of the owner and his young bride: JF. The medallion itself is surrounded with vine leaves. The ancient redwoods standing in the grounds have witnessed a succession of generations who have infused the property with their own family history.