Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Afternoon with Owner Henri Lurton at Château Brane-Cantenac, a Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, in Margaux, France

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Henri Lurton at Château Brane-Cantenac

I had met Henri Lurton, the owner of Château Brane-Cantenac, in Washington DC, USA and written about him. This time, we met at Château Brane-Cantenac in Margaux, as part of a Bordeaux trip organized by Annette Schiller from Ombiasy Wine Tours.

See more:
Château Brane-Cantenac, Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, Margaux – A Profile, France
Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Henri Lurton in Washington DC

Château Brane-Cantenac is a Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855 in Margaux. In 1922, it was acquired by the Lurton family. In 1992, control passed to the current owner Henri Lurton.

Henri Lurton and the Lurton Family

The Lurtons are one of Bordeaux's great wine dynasties. With more than 1,000 hectares in the region, they are collectively Bordeaux's largest holder of wine-producing land. The family members own more than 20 châteaux and manage several well-known properties. They are also active in the New World and the South of France.

Pictures: Henri Lurton

The Lurton family is not some centuries-old French aristocratic dynasty. They are new-comers. It all began in the 1920s with Léonce Récapet, who was a prosperous distiller and vineyard owner in the Entre Deux Mers region. His daughter married François Lurton. Their 4 children Andre, Dominique, Lucien and Simone took wine making seriously and between them began to build an empire. Lucien and André, in particular, acquired châteaux that were in a bad shape and brought them back on track. André is still running his business, while Lucien has handed over the 11 estates that he had gradually acquired to his 10 children, including Château Brane-Cantenac to Henri Lurton.

Picture: Château Brane-Cantenac

History of Chateau Brane Cantenac

Originally known as Chateau Gorce, Château Brane Cantenac was one of most venerated Left Bank estates in the 1700s and 1800s. During the Gorce family’s 100-year tenure, the wines fetched prices similar to those for Chateau Brane Mouton – the precursor to Mouton Rothschild.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Annette Schiller, Ombiasy Wine Tours, Henri Lurton and Corinne Conroy (Director of Communications) at Château Brane-Cantenac

Château Brane Mouton owner Baron Hector de Brane sold Brane Mouton in 1833 to purchase Château Gorce and renamed it Château  Brane Cantenac. In 1920, the Société des Grands Crus de France purchased Château Brane Cantenac and 5 years later, M. Récapet and his son-in-law, François Lurton, took over Château Margaux along with Château Brane Cantenac.  Lucien Lurton inherited Château Brane-Cantenac in 1956. He passed it on to Henri Lurton in 1992.

Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Brane-Cantenac’s vineyard totals 94 hectares. The grape varieties are 62.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 0.5 Carmenère.

Chateau Brane-Cantenac makes 4 wines (36.000 cases in total): The Grand Vin, the second wine Baron de Brane, an additional label named Château Notton using grapes from the Notton vineyard, a plot acquired from Château d'Angludet, and a generic Margaux wine.


Henri Lurton took us on a tour of the vineyards and the winemaking facilities.

In terms of vineyards management at Château Brane-Cantenac, important aspects include: alternating between traditional working of the soil and top soil ploughing, good canopy management, which helps to keep yields low, de-leafing at setting and three weeks before the harvest, as well as crop thinning.

Pictures: In the Vineyard with Henri Lurton

Henri Lurton: “For full ripening, it is essential to do the phenolic and other tests before harvest but it is also important to actually taste the grapes to decide if they are fully ripe. My father taught me this process years ago before many people in Bordeaux made this a routine. Now, I can pretty much taste grapes from different parts of the vineyard and tell if it is fully ripe.”

In terms of grape varieties: “Like in the rest of Medoc, we rely on Cabernet Sauvignon. We are aiming at increasing the share of Cabernet Sauvignon to 70%. We are experimenting with Carmenére in a half hectare of plot, so we use about 0.5% in the blend.”

Pictures: In the Cellar with Henri Lurton

In the wine cellar, starting with the 2010 vintage, Brane Cantenac started to use the Vistalys Optical Sorting Machine. Brane Cantenac also began employing the Air Tec Wine System, which is aimed at preventing crushing of the grapes and premature oxidation of the fruit.

Brane Cantenac is vinified in temperature controlled, traditional oak vats. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel.

The wine is aged in an average of 60% new, French oak for 18 months. After 18 months in barrels, the wine is racked into oak vats for fining with fresh egg whites.

Pictures: In the Cellar with Henri Lurton

Three weeks before the bottling in July, a final blending takes place.

Before Henri Lurton took over, Brane Cantenac was perceived as an underperforming property. This has changed, due to extensive investment in the winemaking facilities and improved vineyard management techniques.

For more information, Jeff Leve from The Wine Cellar Insider has an excellent write-up on his website.


We ended up tasting a range of Château Brane-Cantenac wines. These included:

Pictures: Tasting with Henri Lurton

2009 Baron de Brane

58% Merlot and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Parker Wine Advocate: “The 2009 Baron de Brane is a strong effort”.

Wine-searcher average price: US$ 33

2000 Château Brane-Cantenac 

Lots of tobacco, truffle, cassis and earthy scents on the nose, good structure, an elegant wine with well integrated tannins and a sweet cherry and cassis filled finish.

Wine-searcher average price: US$ 128

2009 Château Brane-Cantenac

Notes of dark berry, anise, forest and spice on the nose, a typical Margaux, refined, supple and elegant, with ample layers of fresh, black and red fruits on the palate.

Wine-searcher average price: US$ 92

2010 Château Brane-Cantenac

62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.

Flower, black raspberry, and earth notes on the nose, silky tannins on the palate, ending with long, ripe, dark berry aromas.

Wine-searcher average price: US$ 96

2011 Château Brane-Cantenac

56.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and for the first time, a small percentage of 0.5% Carmenere.

Forest aromas with leaves, kirsch and flowers on the nose, excellent concentration, velvety tannins and lots of well-integrated spice on the palate.

Wine-searcher average price: US$ 49

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Bordeaux Wines and their Classifications: The Basics

Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion - A Profile, France

A Glass of Bordeaux – What Else? – With Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos

Château Brane-Cantenac, Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, Margaux – A Profile, France

Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

The 5 Premiers Grands Crus Chateaux en 1855 of Bordeaux, France

The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany

Tasting with Alfred Tesseron the last 10 Vintages of Château Pontet-Canet in Washington DC, USA/France

Tasting the Wines of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, with Owner Basil Tesseron at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA/France

Château Léoville-Poyferré, Chateau Le Crock, Didier Cuvelier in Bordeaux and the Cuvelier Los Andes Wines in Argentina

Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) on North America Tour in Washington DC - Schiller’s Favorites

Saint Emilion Wines and their Classification, Bordeaux, France

Château Pape Clément in Pessac-Léognan and the World Wide Wine Empire of Bernard Magrez, France

Fête du Bordeaux of Calvert and Woodley in Washington DC, 2012, USA

Drinking the Wines of Stephane Derenoncourt at Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere in St. Emilion, Bordeaux, and at Boxwood Vineyard in Virginia, USA 

No comments:

Post a Comment