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Château Cantenac Brown plans new ‘earth’ winery

The Margaux-based Château has revealed plans for an environmentally friendly winery and barrel cellar that it hopes will be a model for sustainable design.

Château Cantenac Brown said its new winery will be built entirely from raw earth and natural, untreated wood from the local Aquitaine region.

The project, set to be complete for Bordeaux’s 2023 harvest, follows the Le Lous family’s purchase of the Margaux third growth estate at the end of 2019.

To create the new winery and cellar, clay and sand will be compressed on to buildings using what the Château described as an ancient technique.

‘Without air conditioning or energy consumption, the thermal inertia of the raw earth winery will provide the ideal atmosphere to ensure the stabilisation and ageing of the wines,’ said Cantenac Brown, which is located in the Margaux appellation.

Tristan Le Lous, who led the purchase of Cantenac Brown alongside his family in 2019, is an agronomist and has worked on the designs of the new winery with winemaker José Sanfins.

They have also recruited architect Philippe Madec, who is known for his work on sustainability.

cantenac brown winery

A sketch of how the new-look winery, designed by architect Philippe Madec, will fit into the landscape. Photo supplied to Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent, Jane Anson, by José Sanfins.

It is hoped the project will serve as ‘a model for sustainable design’. Sanfins said, ‘We’ve paid the highest respect to the environment using the most advanced techniques at the moment in terms of sustainable design, in order to preserve the terroir while continuing to adapt and push forward agricultural methods.’

The winery will include a gravity-fed system, a feature seen at several wine estates.

There will also be a large number of small vats for ‘high precision blending’, Cantenac Brown said. This also reflects a broader fine wine trend, with more wineries keen to vinify a greater number of vineyard plots separately in any given vintage.

During advanced talks on the acquisition of Cantenac Brown last year, Tristan Le Lous said he had a lot of ambition for the Château and its terroir.

‘Our challenge, with the recognised expertise of José Sanfins, will be to bring minute precision to every stage of the production process to create, year after year, one of the best wines in Margaux,’ Le Lous said at the time.

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