The Barton family, owners of Bordeaux’s Châteaus Langoa Barton and Léoville Barton, have made their first acquisition since the 1820s. Anthony Barton and his daughter Lilian Barton Sartorius have purchased Château Mauvesin, an estate in Moulis en Médoc. The price was undisclosed.
« We’ve been looking for four or five years, » Barton Sartorius told Wine Spectator. « This château has been on the market for a while and the price was finally right. »
The estate has been owned by the same aristocratic family since the 15th century, with the château built in 1853 by the last Marquis de Mauvesin. The sellers are the current generation—Alain de Baritault du Carpia and his wife, Helene Capbern-Gasqueton. Helene also operates Châteaus Calon-Ségur, a St.-Estèphe third-growth, and Capbern-Gasqueton, a cru bourgeois.
The 500-acre estate includes 120 acres of vines, most of which are classified as Moulis en Médoc, with some in the Haut-Médoc appellation. The terroir is a mix of clay and limestone on gentle slopes planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and a few rows of Carmenère. The vines average 35 years of age, but Barton Sartorius said they need work.
With the ink barely dry on the ownership papers, the Bartons took control for the 2011 harvest. The technical team from Langoa and Léoville, consultant Eric Boissenot and cellarmaster François Brehant, joined the Bartons and the onsite staff to make rapid changes that would improve quality. The extensive cellars underwent a quick temporary renovation. They installed 22 new, squat stainless-steel vats in various sizes, allowing increased precision during vinification and blending.
For the harvest, the team brought in a new tractor that offloads the grapes by vibration, a vibrating sorting table, and an optical sorter—a rare sight in Moulis—all of which helped bring in consistent crop after the challenging 2011 growing season.
« Next year, we start all over again. The vat room will become the cellar room and we’re building an underground vat room so we can work with gravity, » explained Barton Sartorius. « We considered cement vats, but they would not have been mobile. »
For Barton Sartorius, the property is about family. She plans to live in the château with her husband, Michel Sartorious, who works with her and her father in the family’s négociant business.
And they have two children, both young adults studying to work in the wine industry. Daughter Melanie has completed studies in agriculture and enology in Burgundy and Bordeaux. She will be the first enologist in the Barton family, and plans to return to the family châteaus after a two-year stint at a Tuscan winery that belongs to Eric Albada Jelgersma, owner of Château Giscours. « She’ll be back in time for the bottling of the 2011 vintage in 2013, » said Barton Sartorious. Their son Damien also put in two years in agriculture school and is currently in business school.
While a label design for the new property has not yet been selected, « the Chinese decided the name for me, » said Barton Sartorius. An enterprising individual in China copyrighted the name Château Mauvesin. Rather than engage in a legal battle or buy back the name, the Bartons will call their new wine Château Mauvesin Barton.