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Producer profile: Château Biac

With a superb view over the River Garonne across towards the Graves, Château Biac is a pure jewel.

Vines have been planted on these slopes for more than 600 years, the estate being part of that of the Barons de Langoiran, who sold it to another noble Bordeaux family, the Bassals, in the early 19th century. Under their tenure, Château Biac was named a first growth of the Langoiran appellation, which was later abolished. The Cocks & Féret editions of 1874 and 1893 record that the vines for the sweet white wine came from d’Yquem, those for the red from the best vineyards of St-Emilion. The Bassal family sold in the late 1950s, the estate passing through the hands of three owners with little interest in quality. It had been dormant for 12 years before Tony and Youmna Asseily acquired it in 2006, determined to give Biac a true renaissance. Their daughter Yasmina has recently joined them on the sales side, so important for a family business.

Even in its unloved state, the 9ha terroir was exceptional: the highest elevation on the Right Bank; perfect exposure on the steep slopes with natural drainage; the shell shape of the vineyard channelling the cool breezes up from the Garonne in the summer; while the softness of spring temperatures gave frost protection. The soil contained great geological variety, from pure gravel to pure clay, both on a chalky/limestone base, with each plot having its own identity, more typical of Burgundy than of Bordeaux.

With the help of consultants Patrick Léon of Fronsac’s Les Trois Croix (lately winemaker at Mouton-Rothschild) for red wines, Christine Sourdes for the sweet white Secret de Château Biac, and agricultural engineer Gilles Rey, the vineyard has been completely rethought, new plantings going in at 9,000 vines per hectare. The winery has also been remodelled to the highest standard, oak barrels replaced 40% each year. Unique at Biac is that the final blend is never the same: 2008 and 2011 were Cabernet Sauvignon-based, whereas 2009, 2010 and 2012 were Merlot-based, the terroir dictating the best expression

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