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Chateau Labegorce - The Reuniting of a Dreams

The neo-classical mansion central to, and regarded by most people as, Chateau Labegorce was designed by French architect Armand CORCELLES (1765-1843). The part (pictured above) that looks onto the park is the more striking.

Marjolaine de CONINCK is the General Manager and Winemaker at Chateau Labegorce.

Delphine DARIOL KOLASA, Sales & Marketing Director of Chateau Labegorce, also serves as liaison with the media.

Story & Photos By Ch'ng Poh Tiong

The modern history of Labegorce is dominated by one man, Hubert PERRODO.

The wealthy Frenchman was the founder of Perenco, a company that not only specialises in the exploration of fossil fuels but also produces and trades in oil. Tragically, PERRODO, an avid sportsman, died in a climbing accident on 29 December 2006.

However, rather than fade away, Hubert PERRODO's memory encapsulates the ambitions of the wine. And inspires the people who continue his legacy.

These include his daughter Nathalie and his wife Carrie WONG, a former model and founder of Carrie's, Singapore's most famous modeling agency (which she sold in 1981 to her then assistant Linda TEO). Today, Carrie's has around 500 models in its portfolio and is well-known in Asia.

Nathalie PERRODO is in charge of the 'new' Chateau Labegorce, the amalgamation of the former Chateau Labegorce and Chateau Labegorce-Zede.

The origins of Labegorce is traced to the Gorce (or Gorsse) family, who were already living in the area who know today as Margaux in the 14th Century. The family were still proprietors in the 18th Century, of vines, wheat and cattle.

Later, when the French Revolution swept across France in the second half of the 18th Century, like so many estates throughout the country, Labegorce was carved up and auctioned off in three separate parts.

One of those parts does not have any vines on it and probably also did not when it was auctioned to the highest bidder. Perhaps it was used as grazing land.

Called L'Abbé Gorsse de Gorsse, this name may well have been the origin of 'Labegorce' in so far as there might have been an abbot or abbé in the Gorsse (or Gorce) family. This is quite a reasonable assumption given that the clergy was influential and landed in olden day France. It would not have been the first time an estate was named in reference, and deference, to an abbot. L'Abbé Gorsse de Gorsse, which has a solid 17th Century building, was acquired by Hubert PERRODO in 2002.

Then there was Chateau Labegorce itself. Following its auction in the 19th Century, it passed through several hands until PERRODO acquired it in 1989.

The last estate in the trio was named Chateau Labegorce-Zede, named for Pierre ZEDE, related to Barthelemy BENOIST, the successful buyer, in 1795, of this part of the original Labegorce estate. In January 2005, Chateau Labegorce-Zede was also bought by Hubert PERRODO who, therefore, finally reunited the three estates more than 200 years after they were broken up.

Today, Labegorce and Labegorce-Zede have been merged as, simply, Chateau Labegorce. Production is in one same winery. In 2003, when the two estates were still separate entities, the then Chateau Labegorce was classified as one of just nine Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels. That controversial classification*
was overturned and the term 'Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel' is now no longer allowed on the label.

The two estates' production now joined and only one wine produced from them named Chateau Labegorce, the information of their vineyards, however, continues to be presented separately (in their website).

Labegorce has 30 hectares planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (45%), Cabernet Franc (3%), and Petit Verdot (2%). As for Labegorce-Zede, it has 27 hectares, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (33%), Cabernet Franc (5%), and Petit Verdot (2%). The average age of the vines at Labegorce is 25 years and that of Labegorce-Zede being 35 years. Both vineyards share much the same soil composition which is mostly sand and gravel.

Average yield for the new Chateau Labegorce is about 50 hectolitres per hectare. The wine is aged about 15 months in barrels, 35 to 40% of which is new.

Of 490 chateaux which applied under the 2003 Cru Bourgeois Classification, the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce only approved 247 properties: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel (9 chateaux), Superieur (87) and Cru Bourgeois (151). The 2003 reclassification was however annulled in 2007 because of objections from chateaux that were unhappy they were excluded from the classification or because they were less highly classified. Charges of conflict of interests were also leveled against some members of the committee who were also chateau owners. In September 2010, the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc announced 290 chateaux as Crus Bourgeois based on the 2008 vintage. Under the new system there is no more distinction between 'Cru Bourgeois', 'Cru Bourgeois Superieur' or 'Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. Instead, every chateau whose wine is found to be acceptable is just 'Cru Bourgeois'. And the wines will be tasted on a yearly basis to determine if it remains a Cru Bourgeois. (For the full list of Crus Bourgeois based on the 2008 vintage, see http://www.crus-bourgeois.com/documents/selection_officielle_2008.pdf). The new 2010 Classification resulted in a spilt from six of the nine top chateaux that were classified as Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels under the 2003 Classification. These chateaux went on to form their own grouping called 'Les Exceptionnels'. They are Chateau Potensac, Chateau Chasse Spleen, Chateau Les Ormes de Pez, Chateau de Pez, Chateau Poujeaux and Chateau Siran.

All Rights Reserved · The Wine Review · 2013