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Liber Pater to release world’s most expensive wine

The Graves-based estate's owner tells Decanter.com why its 2015 vintage is being released at €30,000-a-bottle, making it among the most expensive in the world.

Only 550 bottles of Liber Pater’s 2015 vintage were produced and just 240 set for release in September this year – priced to ‘show the real and old taste of Bordeaux’, according to the estate.

Speaking exclusively to Decanter.com, Liber Pater’s owner and winemaker, Loïc Pasquet, said that no price can truly pay justice to Bordeaux’s 150-year history but that his mission was ‘trying to maintain our ancestors’ practises and keep the original taste of Bordeaux intact’.

Pasquet acquired the estate, based in the Landiras commune of Graves, in 2005 and has set about reviving rare grape varieties, including Coulant and Castets, and using amphorae to make wine in a pre-phylloxera style. He believes that this highlights the ‘exclusivity’ of Bordeaux.

He has also planted at higher-than-usual vine densities of 20,000 vines per hectare compared to an average of 10,000 across the region today.

How Liber Pater 2015 was made

Liber Pater’s 2015 vintage is made entirely from ungrafted vines and comprises a mixture of rare grape varieties once commonly grown in Bordeaux including; Petite Vidure, Tarnay, Castets and St-Macaire, alongside the better known Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The cuvée was vinified in grey, clay amphorae of 250 and 400 litres, with a two-month maceration period followed by three years ageing.

Pasquet says the 2015 has sensations ‘rarely found in wines from Bordeaux due to the change in the taste post-phylloxera’.

He said it was ‘a pure wine with honesty, finesse and elegance, like the old taste of Bordeaux pre-phylloxera. It has a delicate nose with floral aromas and hints of crunchy black forest fruits, with silky tannins and long fine finish.’

‘Protecting’ Bordeaux heritage

When questioned on the appetite in the market for a Bordeaux wine at such prices, Pasquet said, ‘Wine aficionados and collectors want to appreciate the original fine wine of Bordeaux. It’s a unique experience. I’m doing what needs to be done to protect our heritage.’

He added: ‘I’m doing my very best to produce amazing wines and working very hard in the vineyard on a daily basis, but I don’t have any doubt that everyone is doing their best.

‘I’m a strong believer that Liber Pater wines will always be exclusive. The use of ungrafted vines is exclusive, 20,000 vine per hectare is exclusive, indigenous grape varieties is exclusive and amphorae are exclusive.’ Other wineries around the world use amphorae, notably in Georgia, but they are rare in Bordeaux.

The 2015 will be labelled as a Vin de France, unlike previous vintages that were labelled as AOC Graves, owing to the use of grape varieties not authorised by Bordeaux’s official guidelines.

World’s most expensive wine

The wine, which is being sold in six-bottle cases, has been on offer to the estate’s mailing list for the last six months on a strict allocation basis, priced at €30,000 a bottle (/£26,600/US$33,420).

That makes it six times more expensive than the estate’s 2011 vintage, which is around €4,500 per bottle.

The 2015 vintage is the estate’s sixth release since Pasquet took charge, alongside the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

There will be no 2016 or 2017 due to frost and replanting, but a 2018 vintage will be offered in 2021.

Speaking about the 2018 vintage, Pasquet said it’s ‘going to be a fantastic year and we are very excited for what we have been tasting so far, so watch the space.’

Decanter’s Jane Anson will visit Liber Pater in the coming weeks to taste its wines. Look out for her full report on Decanter.com.

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