France’s 50 best winemakers: Julie and Baptiste Guinaudeau of Château Lafleur

Winemakers at the iconic Pomerol estate: “It’s easier to make great wines with strong women and sensitive men”.

Our next interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series finds us in Bordeaux’s Right Bank, where we meet Julie and Baptiste Guinaudeau, who stand at #6 in the rankings, a couple who create the kind of wines you fall in love with.

Just like its illustrious Pomerol neighbours, Petrus and Vieux Château Certain, Château Lafleur likes to keep its cards close to its chest. Julie and Baptiste Guinaudeau, partners in life and in wine, are at the head of this micro-estate of 4.58 hectares. Dynamic, engaging, and sociable, they are pursuing the work of Baptiste’s parents – Sylvie and Jacques Guinaudeau – who, in 1985, decided to take over the tenancy of Château Lafleur from two cousins, Marie and Thérèse Robin. In 2001, the Guinaudeau family acquired the entire estate. Baptiste and Julie, then aged 20 and 18, decided to take a leap of faith and move in. Twenty years later, this seems to have paid off: Château Lafleur is a cult name among professionals and collectors. Since buying their flagship estate, the Guinaudeau family has slowly built a constellation of different sites across the region, where they produce several wines: Les Perrières, Château Grand Village, and Les Champs Libres. These wines, more accessible than Château Lafleur, also showcase the skill and sincerity so characteristic of Baptiste and Julie’s work.


Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Julie Guinaudeau. – At the end of the day, this doesn’t really change anything.

Baptiste Guinaudeau. – What are we the champions of? Of nothing. We are, first and foremost, farmers; our lives follow the rhythm of the seasons. We are fortunate to be in this position and to be doing the work we love. Above all, we are very lucky.

Is wine a team sport?

BG: Yes, without a doubt. Wine is truly a team sport, one that isn’t bound by time or borders. Even more so in Bordeaux, contrary to the somewhat dusty, fossilised, “members’ club” image people have of it. In the wine world, Bordeaux is an exception. Nowhere else involves so many people who do not hail from the region and as many women in leadership roles. In fact, Bordeaux might be the region with the freshest and most feminine approach.

It’s important to stress that wine doesn’t encompass a single profession: there are several. We can’t do everything alone. For this reason, it’s essential to know who to surround ourselves with. We have an international, multidisciplinary team. Thanks to the renown of Bordeaux, we attract people from all around the world that want to work with us. We’ve never needed to post job offers anywhere. There are 25 of us in the team, of which a little under a third had never made wine before working with us. A third come from abroad, another third from other parts of France (most of whom had nothing to do with wine before joining us), and a final third from a more “classic” background. We really appreciate this group of people, who always give it their all.

Who is your mentor?

BG: Here, that would be me. You always need a conductor, a team coach, who has an overview of the game, but I discuss things with Julie and my parents a lot. We are a couple, following in the footsteps of another couple, Sylvie and Jacques (Guinandeau, Baptiste’s parents and previous estate managers, ed.) in the story of Lafleur. They are the ones who built the foundations of what we are today.

We have a specific progression path at Lafleur, and it always begins in the vineyard, for a cycle of two to three years. Out of 25 people, there’s only one person who’s never pruned a vine plant: our accountant! Other than that, everyone starts out in the vineyard with us. This is the foundation, the “core curriculum”. During those first few years, you get to know the true character of the person you have before you. This evolves: the team members mature, they change, and we constantly strive to get the best out of them.

Have you been training for long?

BG: We both began our careers in wine very young. We started working together 22 years ago: 2001 was our first joint vintage. What sets us apart is that we make wines together, as a couple. We are both in love with each other and with the wines we make. We are living on-site, 100% immersed, and are lucky to own the estate. We are among the youngest, but we already have two decades of foolishness and success behind us. My parents brought us into the fold from the get-go. Throughout the 2000s, the four of us worked symbiotically. We are a family that has been making wine for many years, but we’re only the second generation of full-time winemakers.

JG: I worked on my parents’ organic farm in the Lot-et-Garonne. I met Baptiste in high school when I was 16 years old. I came to Bordeaux to learn oenology – there was something magical about winemaking for me. I had the opportunity to make my first wine at Lafleur in 2001, which confirmed to me that it was something wonderful. I grew up with a strong sense of taste instilled in me, through my parents, who grew tomatoes and other vegetables. For this reason, I had a very developed palate. Wine naturally followed in the footsteps of my upbringing.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the team?

BG: Everything! We have a somewhat simplistic formula that states that great wine is the sum of three elements: a great soil (with a favourable climate); great genetics (when it comes to the variety); and a winemaker that calls the right shots at the right time.

To what do you owe your success?

BG: We owe it to discomfort, which is at the heart of our profession. As long as you feel discomfort, you’re not in any danger. It’s comfort that’s dangerous. Within prestigious, historic appellations, it’s being tempted to rest on your laurels. For us, discomfort came from having to buy Lafleur in 2001. When you buy land in Pomerol in the 21st century, it’s an investment, a gamble, one that needs to work out. The second discomfort came in the 2010s, when we had to change our distribution model because we weren’t reaching our consumers anymore. We looked for the best ambassadors, the best distributors, to share our vision with them. The latest thing that is stirring up discomfort is climate uncertainty, which we have always lived with, but which has turned a new corner today. What’s interesting is that we have never felt so much agency over it.

Are your daughters proud of you?

JG: They are, because they see how hard we work. There are few women in my profession and our daughters are proud to see me amongst other strong women in a male-dominated field.

BG: My daughters are proud of their mother. It’s easier to make great wines with strong women and sensitive men.

Who has been your biggest sponsor throughout your career?

BG: My parents.

Your favourite colour? 

BG: All the reds.

JG: Yellow, because it’s the colour of the beautiful light we’re often blessed with in Bordeaux, that casts its warm glow on the landscape.

Your favourite variety?

BG: Bouchet. That’s what we call Cabernet Franc on the Right Bank. This fine variety fathered the two main Bordeaux varieties: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Born in the Basque Country, it was brought to Bordeaux by sailors, before ending up in the Loire Valley. It has everything going for it: grace, character, and a sense of balance that we love. As it’s relatively unknown, it always evolved in the shadows, and we identify with it. We live by the proverb “pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés” (“to live happily, live hidden”, ed.). Bouchet has been living on the Right Bank, in the shadow of Merlot.

Your favourite cuvée?

BG: The one we will discover next, whether that’s at home or somewhere else. I live in the future more so than in the past. At the moment, I really like the wines of Elian Da Ros – a winemaker from the same village that Julie grew up in, in the Côtes du Marmandais (in the Lot-et-Garonne, ed.). He is listed in Michelin-starred restaurants all over the world, but he marches to the beat of his own drum. His flagship wine is called Le Clos Baquet.

JG: The wines that have moved me the most have been German Rieslings. We’re very fond of the Prüm family, for example. If we had to pick one of our own cuvées, it would be Les Champs Libres. I love the idea that we can create something completely new with a Bordeaux variety (but with Liger-Sauternes genetics – Les Champs Libres is a Sauvignon Blanc from the Bordeaux Blanc appellation, but with a more Burgundian style. The first vintage was released in 2013, ed.).

Your favourite vintage?

BG: Always the next one to come!

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

BG: It would be Lafleur.

What’s the best way to enjoy it?

BG: Very simply and spontaneously.

JG: In a relaxed state.

With whom?

BG: With novice drinkers.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing your estate? 

BG: We’re dangerous enough as it is! We don’t need to and neither does the wine. Great wines are pure wines, they don’t need any help to express themselves. We’re sometimes lucky enough to be able to go far back, and taste wines that are a century old. Even in that crude state, they are wonderful.

JG: We’ve tasted some incredible bottles. When we think about it technically, the conditions in which the wine was made, you realise the finest vintages were always the toughest, those where you managed, despite everything, to make a great wine.

For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

BG: It’s priceless. You would have to buy us alongside the estate, good luck with that!

Who is your most formidable opponent in Pomerol?

BG: We don’t have opponents. It might be because there’s less of a competitive spirit in Pomerol. You don’t have the weight of history, of rankings et cetera, unlike in other Bordeaux appellations, because our appellation is relatively young. We are tiny and we need each other. Together, we feel stronger. If we had an opponent, it would be the climate, but things aren’t black and white, because the climate can also help us. Just like a sailor fears the sea while depending on it, we fear and depend on the climate.

What is your greatest achievement?

JG: That Jacques and Sylvie placed their trust in me. They allowed me to express myself, to be a part of the family and hold the reigns, alongside Baptiste, of the production, in the vineyard and in the cellar. Others also saw my potential, such as Claude Berrouet (previously winemaker at Petrus, ed.), who taught us a lot. He educated our palates.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

To work and be in love! More seriously, we don’t innovate, because you must be wary of innovations in viticulture. Above all, you need to avoid being suddenly behind. You need to think long-term and take things slowly, but you also need to be able to act in the moment. We tinker, but we don’t innovate.

What’s your most original tactic?

BG: We harvest grapes that we’ve pruned. When we’re in the vineyard, we think about the wines we’ve enjoyed the previous day and discuss their various qualities. In the cellar, we always consider how we birthed the vintage, we think about the vines a lot. We spend a lot of time at the tasting table. We are against parcel-driven vinification. It can be very risky in tiny estates like Lafleur: micro-vinifying in the absence of mass. What makes the difference between a great wine and a good wine is the quality of the tannins, their length on the palate and the minutes that follow. The quality of tannins is linked to a delicate maceration. We prefer talking about “infusion” and “diffusion” rather than “extraction”. You need a minimum of mass for that, so these choices happen very early on. You can’t separate all the vines by age, by variety, by soil. 80% of the grape blend is made during the harvest.

JG: Wine is made in the vineyard. Once it passes the doors of the cellar, the die has already been cast. At Lafleur, it’s the sum of all the little details each step of the way, in the vineyard and in the cellar, that determine the end result.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

BG and JG: Our daughters!

France’s 50 best winemakers: Nicolas Audebert of Vignobles Chanel

Winemaker and manager of the French luxury house’s four estates: “One foot firmly on the ground, the other up in the stars”.

The iconic haute couture house has been producing wine for almost 30 years. At the head of Bordeaux’s Château Berliquet, Château Canon, Château Rauzan-Ségla, and Provence’s Domaine de l’Île, is Managing Director and globetrotter, Nicolas Audebert, who stands at #9 in the rankings.

Appointed head of Chanel’s vineyard properties in 2014, the talented Nicolas Audebert oversees three Bordeaux estates (Châteaux Canon and Berliquet in the Saint-Émilion appellation, Château Rauzan-Ségla in the Margaux appellation), and the Île de Porquerolles estate. With his casual appearance, tousled hair, and sun-kissed complexion, he exudes a rock-star charisma that has propelled him to magazine-cover stardom. The oenologist and agronomic engineer, who honed his skills at Krug before taking charge of winemaking at Cheval des Andes in Argentina, seems to possess the Midas touch, turning everything into gold. Whether it’s a classified Bordeaux Grand Cru or a Côtes de Provence rosé, this virtuoso of the vine knows how to craft excellent wine.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Nicolas Audebert: – I’m not even sure that I am a winemaking champion! I’ve been lucky enough to work for some very prestigious names that have helped me to get to where I am today. It’s the brands, the vineyards, the terroirs, and the people I’ve worked with that have brought me to where I am, a position where people might say that I’m some kind of champion, but really I’m not. There are scores of people who are far more competent than me. I take my hat off to all the small-scale winemakers who make fantastic wines for 15 euros a bottle, that nobody knows and who are the real champions, as their job is far more difficult. When you work for a big name, with substantial resources and great terroirs, it’s a whole lot easier.

Have you been training for long?

I don’t see it as training. I do it because it’s a real vocation: my love for grape growing and winemaking is behind everything I do. If we take the example of musicians or sports stars, there are those who achieve with hard graft, and then those who take real pleasure in it, who have a passion for it. Obviously, as winemakers, we’re constantly tasting things, and we probably taste other people’s wines more often than our own, to learn and understand. I’ve been making wine now for 25 years. I didn’t grow up in the wine world. I fell into it, I won’t say by accident, but because I loved nature and wanted to do something that involved being close to the land. Wine seemed an obvious choice: it allows you to transform an agricultural product into an experience that is emotional, sensory, cultural, historical. As winemakers, we have one foot firmly on the ground and the other up in the stars!

Who is your mentor?

We learn daily from everything – and everyone – around us. Whether it’s with a renowned South American oenologist, a Champagne cellar master, a wine connoisseur – I’m constantly discovering new things. I learn from talking to enthusiasts who’ve tasted everything under the sun, I learn from talking to winemakers who’ve been in the game decades. I was lucky enough to work with Rémi and Henri Krug for many years. I also worked with Maggie Henriquez, a rather exceptional woman, and with Philippe Coulon. I worked with Roberto de la Mota, the renowned oenologist from Argentina. I worked for 10 years with Pierre Lurton; he taught me a great deal. And I continue to learn every day with our estate workers.

Is wine a team sport?

Yes, it’s definitely a team sport. First of all, it’s a long-term process. Our team exists outside time – when we take a bottle of 1929 or 1947 Château Canon from the cellar, it’s the same team which made both wines. Great wines are not bound by the limits of time – they capture the essence of a particular place, a path, a destiny. We bear the weight of all that history on our shoulders; we need to write our own part in it.

There are many people in my team: first, the people who work every morning out in the vineyards. I’m not the one out there tending to the vines, pinching them back, tying them up, turning the barrels, racking the wine. After that, we have to blend and taste, with our consultant oenologists, Éric Boissenot and Thomas Duclos, and with our in-house winemakers. Beyond that, there’s also a little bit of Roberto de la Mota and Maggie Henriquez in my Saint-Émilion wines.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

Of those two elements, only one of them is indispensable: the terroir. If you don’t have an exceptional terroir or a distinctive winemaking signature, you won’t make good wine. That said, I don’t agree with the current line of thought saying that everything needs to happen by itself. Grapes that jump of their own accord into bottles and suddenly make great wines, without anyone doing anything, simply do not exist. You need someone to work on them, so it’s a union between the team that does that work and the terroir on which the grapes are grown – a bit like a horse and its jockey. It’s the horse that does the running, the winning, that has all the mental and physical qualities needed. But it needs a rider, to say “Go that way!” and to keep its pace steady at the beginning before sprinting to the finish line. That said, the ratio isn’t necessarily the same: it’s perhaps 80% horse and 20% jockey, whereas it’s probably 70% terroir and 30% winemaker.

If there’s nobody there to care for vines, and cut them back, they don’t make grapes, they just create tendrils and exhausted fruit. Without human hands giving them enough stress and direction, they won’t give anything. And without grapes, humans can’t make wine, so it really is the meeting of both, but a meeting where the winemaker’s style must be the expression of the terroir.

To what do you owe your success?

Above all, I owe it to my parents and to the upbringing they gave me. They taught me to be demanding of myself and of those around me, but they also imbued in me a respect for other people, a sense of patience, an ability to listen, boundless energy, and a desire to achieve, which means that I perhaps have certain qualities that make people want to go along with my projects and put their trust in me.

Is your family proud of you?

Yes, my family is proud of me. That said, the word “proud” sounds rather arrogant to me, a bit egocentric. I would like to think that the life that I am lucky enough to lead today – professional, social, and cultural – is something they look up to, rather than feeling pride for me. In my eyes, words like fulfilment, balance, and desire are far more important than pride.

Who is your most important sponsor?

If we’re talking in purely professional terms, it is Chanel. It’s a wonderful couture house which gives me the freedom to do what I do because it’s an organisation that understands you have to play a long game, and because it is run by people with a huge sense of creativity, who are striving for excellence. They are a truly extraordinary sponsor.

What is your favourite colour?

The colour of the soil, as it has so many different shades. There are ochre soils, red soils, brownish-black soils, sandy soils. It’s this mosaic of colours that allows us to make our great wines and bring complexity to them.

Your favourite grape variety?

I would have to say Malbec, as I hold a particular attachment both to the grape variety and to the wonderful country that is Argentina. It’s a grape variety with quite an extraordinary history, which ended up finding somewhere to call home on the other side of the world, in the most unlikely of places. It left Cahors and came to Bordeaux, where it was planted before disappearing again and going over to South America. It was planted first in Chile, then in Argentina; it crossed the Andes by horse, in the saddlebags of President Sarmiento and a French scientist called Pouget. And then, finally, it found a place in the foothills of the Andes, on the Argentine side, high up on the Altiplano plains, in a continental climate, where it felt at home and was happy.

Your favourite wine?

Amongst the wines that we have here in our cellars and that I have been lucky enough to taste, there are a few that are truly extraordinary, that mark you for life. There are certain vintages of Rauzan and Canon that I won’t ever forget, like 1964, 1955, and 1929, for example. They are all absolutely unbelievable wines. I have memories from all over the place, whether it’s in the Piedmont, in South America, in Burgundy, in Champagne. There are exceptional wines everywhere. However, if I had to keep just one bottle, the one that made the greatest impression on me, it would be Krug 1928, which has an incredible history. Bottles of this vintage had been seized by the Germans to be sold on the British market, but the British didn’t want them because they had been disgorged for a while, and Joseph Krug was able to salvage them. Bottles of Krug 1928 are almost 100 years old, and absolutely extraordinary.

Your favourite vintage?

I wouldn’t pick one that’s too old, or one that’s too young. I would have to say 2001 because, whether it was on the Right or the Left Bank, it made for an extraordinarily precise wine. It isn’t an iconic vintage by any means, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s not a small vintage, the wines it produced are very clear, very precise, they say what they have to say without shouting it from the rooftops, but rather with humility.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

My wines have a strong identity, they are the mirror of the land from which they were born. People often say that a dog is the reflection of its owner, but a wine must take after the place from which it comes. Today, you could make a wine in Margaux that was modern, sun-drenched, Mediterranean, extracted, powerful, with exotic accents – why not?  But that is not what customers are looking for. Similarly, if you’re making, somewhere deep in South America, a wine without colour, that’s austere and cold – something is wrong. Wine reflects a culture, a path, and this path was set by the land, the climate, the people, and the wine needs to resemble this, it needs to be rooted in a very specific place. Take Canon for example, which has a very specific terroir, with clay-limestone soils, on the plateau of Saint-Émilion. This is a terroir that doesn’t lie, it’s a terroir where you couldn’t be doing anything else. When tasting a wine, people often make analogies to refer to its character. They often say: “This one is slightly withdrawn, it’s a little shy, you need to give it time. It needs to grow in confidence”. Or you could have a headstrong wine, that knows what it wants to say, and says it very bluntly and directly. I wouldn’t be able to make a wine if I didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of person it would be.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

In good company. You should never drink alone, as wine is designed to be shared, to build bonds between people.

With whom?

Some people say that you should only open good bottles with people who understand wine, but I think that’s a real shame. In my eyes, you should open those bottles with anyone who wants to drink them, whether they understand or not. The pleasure, the sense of discovery, the satisfaction, and the emotion that great wines afford are within everyone’s grasp: those who know about them and those who don’t. Obviously, you shouldn’t open a great bottle with someone who won’t enjoy it, it wouldn’t make any sense. But if the desire to open it and share it is there, even the greatest bottle can be opened with someone who doesn’t know much about wines, because these moments are about conveying emotion, about passing on this immutable knowledge that exists outside of time.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

I’m lucky enough – or unlucky enough – to be on a natural high all the time. I’d almost prefer for it not to be the case! However, I would never enhance my wine with chemical assistance. There’s this trend for souped-up wines but they bear no interest for me whatsoever. It’s far more interesting when things are full of surprises, when you gradually discover different aspects that bring complexity. This complexity is the opposite of in-your-face showiness. Chemically enhancing wines allows you to achieve a feat once but, behind that, there’s nothing, because it’s part of a system that is distorted from reality, showy, and short-lived. The point of wine is for it to be always true, and precise.

Who is your worst enemy?

I’m my own enemy – if I weren’t, life would be very dull! The hardest thing is to know yourself and to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. It’s always easy to talk about our strengths. Our weaknesses are much harder to work on. In the wine world, which is a world of pleasure, of shared experiences and emotions, I don’t really see any competition or enemies.

And your greatest achievement?

My only motivation is my family and our life together. I try to pass on to my children a bit of the upbringing that I received – with its values and traditions – but also an openness and willingness to discover the world. I still have so many things to do, places to go, wines to drink, countries to discover, people to meet: it’s this desire to be open to and interested in everything and everyone that I want to pass on to them.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

It is, above all, allowing ourselves to be innovative and not being scared of asking questions or implementing new things. In some places, the wine world is defined by a multitude of traditions; in others, it is all about constant innovation. It is quite rare for the two things to coincide. In the places where it’s very traditional, if you do things a bit differently, then it’s often very marginally so, just to be able to say that you do things differently. On the other hand, there are some vineyards, some regions, that aren’t bound by tradition, and are free to innovate. In a traditional vineyard, wanting to do things differently is ultra-modern and innovative in and of itself.  When I arrived in Bordeaux, I had never worked in the region before. I had no qualms about implementing new ideas or developing things that didn’t follow the traditional Bordeaux way. You need a mix of both: one eye looking ahead and one eye looking back.

Can you give me an example?

Conducting several harvests within the same plot, for example, according to the exposure of the rows, and then vinifying the grapes separately according to this. Depending on the aspect of the row, some phases get more sunlight than others in the very warm years, with grapes that will be riper, spicier, darker, and more intense than others that will be fresher, more acidic, and have more tension. It’s hard to vinify them all together while staying precise, so in certain years we do several harvests within the same plot and vinify its grapes separately. Another example is the concept of having people taste wines straight from the barrel during en primeur and for the definitive blend, letting them can pick whatever barrel they want to taste from, which allows us to talk about the wine and be completely transparent about what we have in our cellars. There is a highly distinctive approach to tasting in Bordeaux.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

Pierre Lurton. One should always pay honour where honour is due!



France’s 50 best winemakers: Château Beauséjour’s Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse

Co-owner and winemaker of Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse: “I do not believe that the land belongs to us”.

The 20th interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series takes us back to Bordeaux, where Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse, #31, maintains her family legacy at Château Beauséjour, Premier Grand Cru Classé B de Saint-Émilion. With her impressive maturity and depth of insight, she ranks among the most talented winemakers of her generation.

Her seven-hectare estate, in the iconic Right Bank appellation of Saint-Émilion, boasts an exceptional limestone plateau terroir. The vineyard is planted with rows of Merlot and of Cabernet Franc, which produce wines of extraordinary vivacity.

Having been passed down the generations since 1847, Château Beauséjour underwent a tumultuous sale in 2021. It now belongs jointly to Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse, 33 – the last of the family remaining at the Château – and Prisca Courtin, 35, granddaughter of Jacques Courtin, founder of Clarins. Joséphine draws to good effect on her ten years’ experience on estates ranging from Burgundy to Mexico, by way of New Zealand, and finally to Bordeaux, notably with Bernard Magrez. Today she oversees the production of her estate’s wines with great panache, supported by two renowned consultant oenologists, Axel Marchal and Julien Viaud.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse: If that is how you regard me, then I feel a degree of pride!

Have you been training for long?

Yes, for quite some time. My grandparents on both sides were great wine connoisseurs. They were a formative influence from my earliest years and had me tasting well before I came of age. I have deep aromatic memories that underpin my keen sense of smell and taste. My nose has been practising for a long time. As far as vinification is concerned, there is only one vintage per year, and each one is different. We always tell ourselves that we will do things differently next time. So every year involves further training.

Who is your mentor?

Axel Marchal and Julien Viaud (who embody the new generation of consultant-oenologists in Bordeaux, ed.) are part of my team. They challenge me but their job is not, strictly speaking, to mentor me. I would suggest, rather, that nature is our mentor. From one year to the next, we have to aim higher.

Is wine a team sport?

Yes, very clearly, because wine starts with the vines, and I am not on my own in the vineyard. Some members of my team have been at Beauséjour for 30 years, and without them – Izilda and Christophe – it would be difficult. They bring their own insights and their deep familiarity with the property. To give some context, Izilda’s parents were originally hired by my great-grandparents. As for the vinification, I have Axel Marchal, Julien Viaud, and Camille de Villenaut to support me. We challenge each other and move forward as a team!

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

That’s a really tricky question. When you have a great terroir, if the winemaker makes a mistake, in terms, it is the terroir that can rectify the situation. On the other hand, a good winemaker might make something fantastic from a poor terroir. But, if I have to decide, the terroir comes out on top.

To what do you owe your success?

It’s partly a question of upbringing, which I owe to my family. They taught me the value of the land and of hard work. As for the success of Beauséjour, that is down to meeting Prisca (Courtin, President of the Clarins Group’s Oversight Committee, ed.) who believed in our project. My upbringing has enabled me to follow through on our acquisition, and to persevere in the face of stressful conditions.

Are your parents proud of you? And is your dog?

Yes, I think so. My dog Tokaj is too, and happy to spend every day here at Beauséjour.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Prisca Courtin.

Your favourite colour? 


Your favourite grape variety?

Cabernet Franc.

Your favourite wine?

I love Domaine de Vaccelli’s Granit. It is the wine which, in a blind tasting, I always place in Burgundy, even though it’s from Corsica!

Your favourite vintage?

1990 (the Beauséjour vintage which has acquired legendary status and the year that Joséphine was born, ed.).

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

Someone with quiet strength who opens up over time.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Over a good meal, with a delicious piece of meat, and with friends.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine? 


For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

I do not believe that the land belongs to us. My grandfather used to say – and my father would repeat it – men pass through while the terroir remains. I cannot sell what isn’t mine. So I will never sell, not for any price.

Who is your strongest competition in Saint-Émilion?

That’s rather a loaded question. We are often told that we are the next Ausone. In terms of terroir, I believe that to be true.

Which competition do you dread the most?

I don’t feel as though we are in a competition with our neighbours. If all the Saint-Émilion Grands Crus perform, that has an international reach. I don’t have the competitive streak. Contrary to what people might think, we do not compete with each other in Saint-Émilion, we compete for our appellation’s international ranking. I check out the ratings of my neighbours’ wines, of course, but you have to behave in the right way. If our neighbours, like Bécot, Canon, Angélus etc., were to come to us tomorrow asking to borrow some equipment, then of course we would help them out.

What are you most proud of?

The revival of Beauséjour.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

There have been technical innovations, of course, but I feel there has been a return to common sense. My most innovative strategy has been to refocus on observation and intuition. We have gone through a phase which has brought in a mass of technology, like measuring probes, and infrared. We have also learnt that innovation is not the answer to everything. We need to get back to the basics.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

It would be someone with common sense, humility, and an open mind.

Part II of Wine Lister’s 2023 Bordeaux Study: what the future holds

Extract: Illustrative analysis of en primeur release prices

Amongst other findings, Part II of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux Study, ‘Reaching for the stars’, examines how en primeur pricing over recent vintages compares with quality levels and secondary market prices, to consider what success in Bordeaux’s 2022 campaign might look like.

Extracted from the report, the chart below provides an illustrative analysis of the 2022 en primeur release prices, based on the 110 wines1 covered in the study. As the bulk of releases are yet to enter the market, this is an entirely theoretical projection which, if applied on a case-by-case basis, could nevertheless be a useful benchmark.

An extract from Part II of Wine Lister’s 2023 Bordeaux Study, providing an illustrative analysis of the 2022 en primeur release prices

Wine Lister’s Quality score aggregates recently-published scores from our five Bordeaux partner critics – Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin for, Bettane+Desseauve,, and Ella Lister for Le Figaro – plus a small weighting for their average drinking window. By comparing the Quality score of the 2022 vintage (the highest ever recorded – 927) with the average of the most similar vintages (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020), we obtain a quality-price ratio (QPR) of 6.66.

By dividing the Quality score of the 2022 vintage by this same QPR, we obtain a theoretical future market price of €160 for the 2022 vintage. To this price, we apply a discount of between 10% and 25%, corresponding to the minimum saving that consumers would expect to make versus buying the physical product two years later. This gives us an average release price of between €120 and €144 per bottle. By subtracting the average importers’ margin, we arrive at an average ex-négociant release price of €103 to €123 per bottle, i.e. -5% to +26% compared to the ex-négociant release price of 2021.

Out of the 48 releases covered by Wine Lister at the time of publishing, the average release price of the 2022 vintage is €71.3, compared to €62.6 in 2021, representing an increase of 14%.

1Some wines have been excluded due to a lack of regular en primeur releases or unreasonable prices.

Head to Wine Lister’s analysis page here to purchase the full study in English and French, while Pro Subscribers can access their copy for free here.

Critics’ consensus on the top 30 Bordeaux wines of 2022

While the Bordeaux 2022 en primeur campaign is yet to kick off in full swing – with just a handful of key releases entering the market over the past three weeks – Wine Lister’s partner critics’ scores are now in (Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jancis RobinsonBettane+Desseauve, and Le Figaro Vin) informing our overarching 100-point Wine Lister score. The WL score is the average score of our five partner critics, normalised to take into account each critic’s scale and scoring habits.

In our latest blog, we examine the wines that gain the top Wine Lister scores in 2022 – a vintage that, despite extreme weather conditions, is projected to be one of the best from this century (recap Ella Lister’s vintage report here).

The top 30 wines of the vintage are shown below, with all estates in this ranking boasting scores of 96 or above. Scores are shown to one decimal place to enable a detailed ranking within the top scorers.

The 30 wines with the highest WL scores, including their points increase versus 2021

Reflecting trade and press sentiment regarding the exceptional quality of the 2022s, wines across the board have generally seen their WL scores increase on last year, and in some cases, significantly. This year, 64 wines achieve WL scores of 95 and over, more than double the number in 2021 (29). While the estates that made up our top 30 last year had an average score of 95.2, this year’s top 30 average 96.8 points.

A glaring observation: only red wines have scored above 96 in 2022 – the vintage having been kinder to Merlots and Cabernets than to their white counterparts, which struggled to maintain acidity in the heat. Only six whites – predominantly sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac – scored just outside the examined range, with WL scores of around 95. These include – in descending order – Climens, Suduiraut, Doisy-Daëne L’Extravagant de Doisy (last year’s top-scoring wine, with 97 points in 2021), Rayne-VigneauLa Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (the only dry white), and Fargues.

Turning to reds, Cheval Blanc stands at the top of the podium (up 3 points on 2021), followed by Léoville Las Cases (up 3.4 points), Latour (up 2.9 points), Vieux Château Certan (up 2 points), Mouton-Rothschild (up 3.2 points), and Lafite Rothschild (up 2 points), which all boast rounded scores of 98. They are closely tailed by La Conseillante (up 2.1 points), Petrus (up 2.7 points), and Figeac (up 2.6 points), amongst others.

The biggest climbers in the top 30 this year were Léoville Las Cases, with a WL score increase of 3.4 since the 2021, followed by Trotanoy with 3.3, Mouton-Rothschild with 3.2, La Mission Haut-Brion and Beau-Séjour Bécot with 3.1 points. On average, these 30 estates saw an increase of 2.4 points compared to 2021.

Right Bank estates take up the majority of places in this year’s top-30 list (56% compared to 45% in 2021). This is mainly thanks to 10 Saint-Émilion properties and their limestone terroirs featuring in the top 30 – exactly one third – versus 24% last year, whereas Pomerol’s representation is similar year-on-year (23% versus 21%). Other appellations featuring ore strongly in the top 30 are Pauillac (17% up from 14%), and Margaux and Saint-Estèphe (both 7% up from 3%), while Pessac-Léognan and Saint-Julien have seen their listings reduce (10% versus 17%; 5% versus 7%, respectively).

Bordeaux 2022 – part I

Tasting for Le Figaro, Ella Lister and her colleague, Béatrice Delamotte, spent a fortnight in Bordeaux tasting 600 wines en primeur from the extraordinary 2022 vintage – extraordinary in terms of its textures, its accessibility, and its unexpected freshness in such a dry, hot year – that has produced wines with technically high levels of tannin which somehow just melt into the background. We tasted many of the wines together, and sometimes two or three times in order to be able to judge each sample as faithfully as possible.

Château Lafleur

The Vintage

After a difficult 2021 vintage, 2022 is without doubt a contender for the vintage of the century – so far –, showing signs at this early stage of outdoing the magnificent triptych 2018, 2019, and 2020, and will perhaps go down in history as the 1982 has done. After almost 20 years as Technical Director at Château Cos d’Estournel, Dominique Arangoïts expressed this in slightly different words, suggesting that 2022 “might be the wine of my life”.

And the most extraordinary thing is that nobody expected it. The vines were subjected to some of the driest conditions on record, as well as above-average temperatures. However, there were no extreme heatwaves (as in 2003), and night-time temperatures remained relatively cool, dropping on average to around 15°c. The vines grew accustomed to the hot, dry conditions early in the growing season, which meant they adapted their consumption and their canopy growth in order to cope with what little water they had, making do with reserves amassed during a rainy 2021, then a top-up in June, and then surviving 50 dry days until mid-August. Refuting any comparison with 2003, Nicolas Audebert, Managing Director of Châteaux Canon and Rauzan-Ségla, uses the analogy of an office worker being cooped up until August, and getting sunburnt going out into the bright sun for the first time, whereas 2022 was a more gradual acclimatisation for the vines.

Nicolas Audebert, Managing Director of Châteaux Canon, Rauzan-Ségla and Berliquet

One of the buzzwords of the vintage, cited over and over again in our conversations with owners, winemakers, and consultants in the region was ‘resilience’. “ The vines, the soils, and the people were resilient,” said Omri Ram, Cellar Master and Head of Research and Development at Château Lafleur. That the vines survived the prolonged drought with relative ease and produced such stunning results was a shock to everyone, with many vignerons telling us they were more stressed than vines. Mathieu Cuvelier, owner of Clos Fourtet, found the experience quite stressful, even though “there was little that needed doing – no green harvesting, no de-leafing, very light vinification”. Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director at Château Cheval Blanc concurs, recounting “the vineyard made the wine all by itself”.

By early August the pips were already brown, i.e. phenolically ripe, “We had never witnessed that before” explains Frédéric Faye, the Managing Director of Château Figeac. However, the extreme weather conditions did leave room for mistakes for those were not attentive enough to picking dates or not gentle enough with their extraction. So 2022 wasn’t a vintage of homogenous quality, but overall, it was a pleasure to taste, and much easier for professional tasters than 2021, where we battled with oak, firm tannins, and biting acidity to assess potential quality. This year, the majority of wines are already so expressive and caressing as to be almost ready to drink, while possessing all the necessary attributes to age well.

“The wonderful thing this year is that every grape variety did rather well,” exclaimed Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Millésimes, parent company of Château Pichon Baron, explaining that while above all it’s a great Cabernet year, “the Merlots are as beautiful as they’ve ever been”. Many wines in 2022 featured a higher proportion of Merlot than usual, as the Cabernet berries were small and yielded less juice. In fact, 2022 sparked lots of positivity around Merlot, with Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, co-owner of Château Angélus, commenting that the vintage shows “Merlot can exist long into the future”, contrary to recent concerns about its capacity to stand up to a warmer, drier climate.

Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, co-owner and CEO of Château Angélus

The Wine

The red wines – the unquestionable winners in 2022 – are dense and concentrated, yet fresh, fruity, floral, and sappy. Above all, the best wines display a range of magical textures from silk and cashmere to duckling feathers, and a common and delightful thread through many of the wines is a vegetal florality reminiscent of the sap of fresh cut flowers. The least successful wines present harsh tannins. The best ones, on the other hand, are so fresh and tender that you would never know they came from such a dry, hot vintage, nor guess the resulting high IPTs and low pHs.

The dry whites, however, found it harder to contend with the vintage, and the low acidity levels can be more apparent than in the red. There are, nonetheless, a handful of successful whites worth looking out for, which possess the best and subtlest exotic notes, a finesse and softness that counteract the richness of the vintage. The sweet wines are very good, if not incredible, rich with delicious botrytis flavours and very high residual sugar levels.

The 2022 vintage is not one with an obviously overperforming appellation or subregion. Left and Right Bank made astonishing wines, and we have been inspired by our tastings to bestow an unprecedented number of potential 100-point scores to the wines. You can discover all eight possibly “perfect” wines, and hundreds more, on the Wine Lister and Figaro Vin  websites now.

Now published: Part I of Wine Lister’s 2023 Bordeaux Study

Key findings from this year’s first regional report

In anticipation of this year’s en primeur releases, Wine Lister has published Part 1 of its annual in-depth Bordeaux Study. In collaboration with Wine-Searcher, our market overview examines the region’s price performance and comparative popularity progression, and examines the wines that have seen the greatest increase in Wine Lister Quality, Brand, and Economic scores over the last year. Drawing upon valuable insight from 48 leading trade survey respondents, the study also identifies which properties have benefited from a rise in trade confidence over the past year, and explores the key benefits of the en primeur system.

Please see our key findings below, or download the study digest in English: Bordeaux Study Digest Part 1 – 2023 ENG or in French: Bordeaux Study Digest – 2023 FR.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Claire Villars-Lurton, winemaker in Bordeaux

Owner and winemaker of Château Haut-Bages Libéral in Pauillac and Château Ferrière in Margaux: “If it was a person my wine would be an opera-singer, like Pavarotti”.

The fifth in Le Figaro Vin’s series brings us back to Bordeaux to meet Claire Villars-Lurton, #46 best winemaker in France, who has embraced biodynamic viticulture to create her exquisite wines at her two estates. In her interview she shares her passion for a vocation to which she has devoted the last 30 years.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Claire Villars-Lurton: I am not sure that I am a winemaking champion, but I do feel that I am now on the right path and that I have fully found my feet. When I started there was so much to learn and I really struggled. After a time I wanted to take the lead. Today I feel that everything I have set in train makes sense and that I have a clear grasp of the way ahead.

Have you been training for long?

Yes, for almost 30 years. I have tried a variety of approaches and it hasn’t always been easy. I question almost everything and am never satisfied, which prompts me to challenge myself and also to push my colleagues out of their comfort zone. I cannot bear being comfortable and I don’t like treading water. It is now over 20 years since I took over at Château Haut-Bages Libéral and Château Ferrière. For the last 15 years I have immersed myself in a comprehensive training in biodynamic agriculture. I think it’s wonderful that there is now so much awareness and appreciation of its methodology, so much expertise, research, and literature, all of which paves the way towards an alternative viticulture.

Who is your mentor?

I have a number of mentors. The most important guide on my biodynamic adventure has been Alain Moueix who, crucially, has convinced my colleagues that this is the way forward. Jacques Lurton has shared his expertise on all things wine. Alain Canet (agroforestry adviser to Château Cheval Blanc, ed.) has helped me with the planting of trees in the vineyards. Four or five years ago I, my husband Gonzague (Lurton, owner of Château Durfort-Vivens, ed.), and the agronomist Konrad Schreiber, set up a knowledge-sharing platform for winemakers to pool their experience and expertise, “La Belle Vigne”. I have found this really helpful.

Is wine a team sport?

More than ever, especially when you don’t take shortcuts and don’t introduce cultured yeasts. We have to work with what we have, so we need to operate as a team, from vineyard to cellar. Wine is a team sport played in front of a huge number of spectators who are focused on the product.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

Always the terroir! But you need both. You can make a poor wine from a great terroir, while a good winemaker can never work miracles with poor terroir.

To what do you owe your success?

I am not sure that I have been successful. I would say that I owe a great deal to my education and my family. I had dynamic parents who refused to rest on their laurels. Mum was a role model, even though she was very young when she left us, and I never got to see her at work. I felt secure in the knowledge that my grandfather, my uncle, and my husband all had my back. Becoming sole owner at 30 developed my sense of responsibility. I knew that my family was always there for me, so now I am delighted by the thought that my children want to take up the reins.

Are your children proud of you?

You would have to ask them, as they certainly won’t tell me, but I think so.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My husband.

Your favourite colour? 

Orange, because it’s a warm, bright colour that’s full of energy. As far as wine is concerned then, of course, it’s red.

The king of grape varieties?

Entirely predictably, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Your favourite wine?

Château Haut-Bages Libéral 2018.

Your favourite vintage?

I really like 2020, which is a bit like 2010.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

It would be an opera-singer, like Pavarotti. Brilliant and luminous, with a perfect timbre, at once powerful and restrained.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

I try to make a wine that can be enjoyed whatever the circumstances. Ideally, it’s when you share it with good friends or with family, at your leisure and with a lot of love.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine? 

Never! I am called Claire and a given name like that means that I cannot cheat. I think our first names determine who we are. I’m a completely open book, so much so that I reveal too much, reveal everything. So absolutely no chemical enhancement for me, not even make-up.

For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

Money doesn’t interest me. I will never sell. It’s not money that makes me happy; it’s the tool of my trade, my land, that brings me joy.

Who is your strongest competition in Bordeaux?

My husband. He’s not really a competitor – if he were listening, I don’t think he’d take it very well! – but, all the same, there’s a slight competitive edge between Gonzague and me, which makes us motivate each other and which always keeps us on our toes. We both want to do our best and he is always pushing me to the next level. I try to match him, or even outperform him [laughs]. We really complement each other, and we admire each other a lot; for me to love someone is to admire them.

What is the competition that you fear the most?

People who cheat or use others to get ahead. I try to succeed on my own merits.

What are you most proud of?

My children.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

Bringing trees into the vineyard, embracing agroforestry, all the work we put in today to support the soil as a living organism. Our approach is to work organically, from the soil and roots up, to produce robust, healthy grapes more resistant to diseases and parasites.

In the cellar we have developed an innovative approach to protecting our wine against oxidisation, one which allows us to use the least sulphur possible, thereby reducing additives to a minimum. The active ingredient in sulphur is only part of the whole element. Although sulphur is indispensable, its use in the battle against oxidisation can be radically reduced, and that’s where our work is bearing fruit. Indeed, we are pioneers in the field.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

My children, obviously. Inheritance is a central part of our Latin culture. I inherited my property and I want to leave something for the next generation.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Château L’Évangile’s Olivier Trégoat

The technical director revolutionising Pomerol’s Château L’Évangile: “If my wine was a person, it would be Catherine Deneuve”.

Wine Lister’s parent company, Le Figaro Vin, has launched its inaugural series of the 50 best winemakers in France in 2023. Interviews with each winemaker making the top 50 will be published throughout the course of the year – in French on the Le Figaro Vin website, and in English on Wine Lister’s blog. The first in the series, #50, is Olivier Trégoat – Technical Director of Pomerol’s Château L’Évangile. Here he shares the highlights of his viticultural journey so far.  In just a few years, Olivier Trégoat has managed to realise the full potential of l’Évangile, getting the most out of the appellation’s natural generosity, while reinstating a remarkable freshness in the wine.

Le Figaro: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Olivier Trégoat: I am very happy, but give most of the credit to the team, as it is, above all, a real collective effort. Alone, I would be good for nothing.

Have you been training for long?

Yes, I’ve been training since 1997. Everything I’ve done in my previous winemaking roles contributes to what I have achieved at L’Évangile. I got my start in Saint-Émilion, which catalysed my interest in soil studies – while my previous job as an independent consultant for large Bordeaux estates (including Château Cheval Blanc) was invaluable.

Who is your mentor?

At the start of my winemaking journey, it was Kiss Van Leeuwen, a viticulture professor at Bordeaux Sciences Agro and the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV). Today, my mentors are my neighbours in Pomerol – whose proximity prevents me from making mistakes and provides me with constant inspiration.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

The terroir. For me, climate and soil make up 80% of the wine.

To what do you owe your success?

To my education, my curiosity, and the tools at my disposal – a triptych of soil, vine, and wine.

Is your family proud of you?

Yes, I’m sure they are.

Who are your best supporters?

Paradoxically, some of my competitors, but also my former clients from when I was an independent consultant.

Red or white wine? 

The older I get, the more white wine I drink!

The king of grape varieties?

Cabernet Franc. At Château L’Évangile, it’s a grape variety that we will continue to plant and conduct research into – particularly because of its freshness. And also because I love the wines of the Loire Valley!

Your favourite wine?

Château L’Évangile 2006. It is a harmonious vintage that offers the delicate touch of l’Évangile’s hallmark tannins, alongside a more fleshy characteristic – but without excess, and still retaining a beautiful freshness.

Your favourite vintage?

2011 – something slightly different. It was not well understood around the time of its release, and it came after 2009 and 2010, which were widely-recognised as exceptional vintages. It’s just starting to open up today.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

Catherine Deneuve. A great, timeless actress who knew how to challenge herself in different roles.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Drink it with people you love.

Have you ever thought about chemically-enhancing yourself, or your wine? 

No, never. Nature is generous in Pomerol; I always say that I have my foot on the brake rather than the gas.

Who is your strongest competition in Pomerol?

Château Lafleur.

Which competitions do you dread the most?

Frosty periods in early April.

What was your greatest win?

I had beginners’ luck. My entire career in wine so far has been a bit like a race in which I have ended up on the podium against all odds!

What has been your most innovative strategy?

While we do things in a very simple manner in the winery, in the vineyard, we make very rigorous intra-parcel selections on different soils. I sometimes say that we harvest in a Sauternes style. We love to split hairs during this critically decisive period. It’s a real challenge to be a winemaker in Pomerol today.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

On the podium, Château Lafleur. They are very sharp and precise in what they do, with consistently good ideas. And for my successor at the estate, I don’t know yet…

A few words about the estate:

The property was founded in the mid-18th century under the name “Fazilleau”. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Léglise family, who played a significant role in expanding the vineyard, sold it to a lawyer named Isambert, who renamed it L’Évangile. He expanded the estate to around 13ha – not far off its current size.

Since 1990, Château L’Évangile has been under the helm of Baron Éric de Rothschild, who also owns Château Lafite in Pauillac (among others in the appellation), as well as Château Rieussec in Sauternes. His daughter, Saskia, a former New York Times correspondent writing from the Ivory Coast, and the author of a novel, joined her father in Bordeaux in 2017. The estate has benefitted from significant investments, as well as the technical expertise of the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) teams for over 30 years. Juliette Couderc was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2020, having previously managed the vineyards of Chinese estate, Long Dai, which also belongs to the group. She works alongside Olivier Trégoat.


Now published: Wine Lister’s 2022 Leagues

As the year draws to a close, Wine Lister has published its 2022 Wine Leagues – the third of our annual reports celebrating the top-performing wines and producers within several categories over the past year. The Leagues reveal exciting developments in the world of fine wine, shining a light on consumer trends and estates on the rise, informed by an in-depth trade survey with key industry figures.

Please see some of our key findings below, or click here to download the full study.