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Chateau Carbonnieux owner dies

Anthony Perrin, the owner Bordeaux chateau Carbonnieux, has died of lung cancer aged 68.

Perrin, described by Stephen Brook in The Complete Bordeaux as ‘genial’, was one of the main figures in Bordeaux’s winemaking circles.

Along with his father Marc, who brought the run-down and abandoned property in 1956, he is credited with reviving the fortunes of Carbonnieux, situated in the Pessac-Leognan area of southern Bordeaux.

Among other accomplishments, Perrin was president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux from 1992-1994. He is also credited with being instrumental in bringing the Passac-Leognan appellation into being. Until 1987, the region was part of the wider Graves appellation.

But it was at Carbonnieux that Perrin made his name. The chateau had been empty and neglected since the First World War. It was sold by owner M Chabrat in 1956. At the time of the acquisition, Perrin’s father Marc also owned considerable vineyard area in Algeria, which the family lost following the country’s independence from France in 1962.

Marc Perrin died in 1982, leaving Anthony to run the estate.

Along with several modernising moves throughout the last 30 years, Perrin is credited with calling on the services of renowned wine consultant Denis Dubourdieu who started advising for Carbonnieux in 1988.

A regular face on the Bordeaux wine scene, Brook said Perrin was, ‘a familliar and welcome presence at events both formal and informal’.

The 92ha (hectare) estate is unusual for its appellation in that its vineyards are roughly evenly split between red (50ha) and white (42ha) vines. Most top chateaux in the region have signifcantly more plantings of red varieties than white.

Perrin also made numerous acquisitions, including chateaux Haut-Vigneau, Lafont-Menaut, and Le Sartre, all in Pessac-Leognan. The latter, purchased in 1981, was formally passed onto Perrin’s sister in 2005.

He is survived by his wife and three children. Sons Philibert and Eric are understood to be taking over the running of the family properties.

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It is a sad day for Bordeaux and for the Bordeaux-loving world. Anthony Perrin was a beloved presence at any wine gathering. Always a smile, always a twinkle in his eye, and always a consummate host. At last sighting, I recall him clearing off an antique desk so that I might show him something new on my laptop. An appropriate metaphor for a man who helped Carbonnieux and Bordeaux move from its past into its present. We will sorely miss him. And I suspect his sons will carry on the tradition and build on his legacy.

Eric E. Vogt

It was Alexis Lichine, with all his innovative marketing flair, who first made Ch. Carbonnieux an iconic white wine throughout the United States, the one you could find even in the most backwater towns and restaurants. Anthony Perrin could have been content to rest on those “Lichinian” laurels. But he was not. He invested regularly and constantly, working to improve the quality of his vineyards and the ensuing winemaking and aging processes, thereby securing Carbonnieux’s status as one of the most sought after and reliable white wines produced in Bordeaux. He was slightly less successful with his red wines at Carbonnieux but they, too, have improved over the last half decade or so.

Above all, Anthony Perrin will be remembered, I hope, for being one of Bordeaux’s true gentlemen, one of the last patriarchs of a family-owned wine business; ever ready with a friendly smile, level-headed, dignified, yet disarmingly simple and soft spoken. He personnified what former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin called “la positive attitude”. He and Saint Peter should get along just fine, especially if Anthony brought along some of his cristallin eau minérale de Carbonnieux!

Jeffrey M. Davies, Bordeaux, France

Written by Oliver Styles

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