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Introducing Bordeaux winemaking royalty
Gonzague is one of ten children of Lucien Lurton, a champion of the region who owned many of its finest estates. The Lurton name still rings widely around Bordeaux today.
When Gonzague’s dad retired in 1992, he divided up his properties between his kids. Having grown up running around his father’s Margaux vineyards, spending summers pruning vines or helping out in the cellar, Gonzague had his heart set on one property in particular and he let his dad know - ‘it’s Durfort-Vivens or bust’. Dad duly obliged.
An illustrious Second Growth estate - right up there with Bordeaux’s best - Durfort-Vivens has a rich history but, since Gonzague took over, perhaps the future is even brighter. Over 30 years, he’s introduced lots of ingenious ideas, like bringing in Geologists to optimise his plots and using terracotta jars for ageing, in the pursuit of pure fruit expression. And in 2013, Durfort-Vivens was the first estate in Margaux to go fully-organic. So for almost 10 years now, every single drop of Gonzague’s wine has been made with 100% planet-friendly, organic grapes. Talk about making a good thing even greater.
Gonzague Lurton's Story
Gonzague Lurton's Story
I inherited Château Durfort-Vivens, second Classified Growth in 1855 in Margaux, from my father, Lucien Lurton. After financial studies and while I was working in the bank area, the time to divide my father’s legacy came. He bought various properties and all his children had to make three requests on the 10 different lots.
I was aged 26, and wrote on my list: “First choice: Durfort-Vivens”, “Second and third choice: Durfort-Vivens or nothing!”
This is how, in 1992, I became a winemaker, taking over Château Durfort-Vivens.
I always knew that I will make wine a day or another. “When?” was the question.
I am born in Médoc and grew up in the middle of Margaux vineyards. So, I have always lived in the viticulture and wine areas. My summer jobs were always in the vines or in the cellar.
I inherited Château Durfort-Vivens while I was only 26 and it was not just a wine making project! I had to restore all the infrastructures of the Estate with a leading edge technology. Regarding the vineyard, I worked with geologists, in order to optimize the plots. This is how the style of the wine can gain in precision, and harmony – and how my quest for the unique Durfort-Vivens style began.
What’s fantastic in this job is that there’s no typical day. We work with seasons and the job of a vineyard owner is more and more transverse. You have to take care about your vines, your wines, the people working with you, and also promotion, marketing, sales, and being an actor of your community. Some days are completely focused on one subject, some days you have to take care about some or even about all of these subjects.
Because our knowledge and regulations are is constant evolution, you do not have a daily routine and there is no day like another one!
Léopold Valentin is my Technical Director. He is very creative and ingenious. We both aim to reveal Durfort-Vivens’ own style, mixing purity, elegance and precision. We rose the biodynamic challenge from 2009 and Léopold devoted himself to completely review the production process, reducing man print as much as we could in order to express more and more the
singularity of our terroir.
In our pursuit of purity and bright fruit expression, Léopold reduced the quantity of sulphur in the wine, introducing a new wine ageing container: the terracotta jar. It actually emphasizes Durfort-Vivens signature.
In my mind it was completely under control but when I decided to change a full cellar from hundreds of barrels to 160 terracotta jars (in only 2 years time), many people around were doubtful...
My most memorable moment in wine was working the 2018 vintage. It was the smallest harvest I have ever seen, and it incited me to produce, in an exceptional year, a jewel that marks the history of the property.
To preserve the identity of each plot, we replaced the vats with wine-making amphorae (terracotta jars). Inspired by the 19th century artisanal practices, we made a wine without any artificial energy source. Harvesting, sorting, filling amphorae, vinification until pressing of the marc: all was done manually. It was the most demanding blend ever but only 7000 bottles were produced... 2018 is my favorite vintage, both rare and extraordinary qualitative, as we only make a few per century.
My wife, Claire Villars-Lurton, also inherited Estates in the Médoc – Château Haut-Bages Libéral in Pauillac, Château Ferriere and Château La Gurgue in Margaux. We always wanted to have a common project, apart from our legacies, and far from the Médoc. In 2012, we moved to California with our 3 children, and acquired a 10-hectare property in the Sonoma Valley. It was an ideal place for us and we stayed there more that 3 years. There were no winemaking facilities and vineyard had to be replanted. Our dream came true and today we are very proud of Acaibo, our Great Wine, made at the crossroads of Franco-American know-how and traditions.