The new owner of Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, multi-millionaire Silvio Denz, plans to restrict sweet wine production at the Sauternes estate to only the best plots of land.
Denz, who is chairman at Lalique, is a big fan of Sauternes, but he is also aware of commercial realities – with several Sauternes estates having increased their production of dry white wines in recent years.
Now, as owner of Lafaurie-Peyraguey, he believes a sharper focus on specific plots of land is the way forward.
‘I’m aware that sweet white wine is not very fashionable, but the terroir of Sauternes has been underrated for quite a while,’ he told decanter.com in an interview following his purchase of Lafaurie-Peyraguey from energy firm GDF Suez.
‘My idea is to go back to the plots of the 1855 classification. There’s around 17ha and those are the prime plots. We we want to exploit these vines for sweet wines.’
That will probably entail cutting production of sweet wines from 60,000 bottles at present to around 20,000 to 30,000 bottles. ‘For the rest of the plots, we are exploring dry whites. It’s similar to what Olivier Bernard has been doing at Clos des Lunes.’
Denz spent two years looking for an estate in Sauternes. This deal has been in the pipeline for around eight months, after the Lalique chairman got a tip-off on Lafaurie-Peyraguey’s availability from a contact in Paris. The estate was never formally put on the market.
Denz declined to reveal the price paid for the estate, but he said, ‘it was not a fantasy price. I paid the market price.’
He praised GDF Suez for investing a lot of money in the vineyards during its three-decade tenure, replanting 2% of the
estate annually. ‘I made a thorough check-up of the vines before I bought it and the vineyard is very healthy.’
Written by Chris Mercer