Château Durfort-Vivens 2017
• Domaine: Château Durfort-Vivens
• Appellation: Margaux
• Classification: Second Growth, 2ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château Durfort-Vivens is a Second Growth estate in Margaux appellation. It is owned by Lucien Lurton. After a period of relative obscurity, Durfort-Vivens rebounded significantly with successful vintages in the 2010s and major innovations at the estate. In 2018, biodynamic farming practices led to an extremely low yield wine which was a gamechanger for the estate in terms of quality and critical acclaim. That special vintage was hailed by the famed French wine critics, Bettane & Desseauve predicted their grand vin to be a, “future cult wine.” Since 2018, the loyal and devoted following of the estate continues to grow with each passing vintage. Due to their painstaking obsession with terroir, constant periods of self-reflection, and unique winemaking techniques, Durfort-Vivens is a perfect example of an estate changing the tides of fortune in their favor.
Like many estates, Château Durfort-Vivens was named after previous owners. The Durfort family were nights from Quercy in the 11th Century. In 1450, Thomas de Durfort became the Lord of Margaux. Four centuries later, Viscount Robert Labat de Vivens inherited the estate, and thus the name Durfort-Vivens was given to the property in 1824. Durfort-Vivens achieved critical acclaim and in 1844 created a remarkable vintage that sold at a higher price than any château in all of Bordeaux. A little over ten years later, they were ranked as a Second Growth Estate during Napoleon’s 1855 Classification. The American President and oenophile Thomas Jefferson categorized the estate directly after Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, and Château Margaux. Before the property was purchased by Lucien Lurton, the wines were made at Château Margaux.
After a period of struggle, Durfort-Vivens fell out of critics' favor. It wasn’t until 1992, when Gonzague Lurton became the owner of the property that Durfort-Vivens began to make some very important changes. Under Lurton’s leadership, Château Durfort-Vivens modernized their cellar with new fermentation vats of cement, wood, and amphora. They currently use amphorae, or clay vessels, to age their wines in. This is very unique to many of the estates in Bordeaux and lends their wine a highly sought-after freshness.
Durfort-Vivens is also the first estate in all of Margaux to become 100% biodynamic which is a highly significant and rigorous process. The estate received their Demeter Certification upon completion in 2016 and have set an important example for the other estates in Margaux. Biodynamic viticulture is a holistic view of winemaking that involves zero manipulation of the wines at the estate. Many Biodynamic wineries are their own unique ecosystems, where terroir is paramount to everything else. At these wineries, one can often see cows on property to serve as organic sources of fertilizer. Certain wineries make their own teas out of plants grown on the estate, such as nettle and chamomile, to protect the vines from pests. Biodynamic viticulture also has more of an esoteric side, where harvest dates are chosen based off of the lunar calendar.
The winemaking team at Durfort-Vivien focuses on ripeness of fruit and concentration in their wines. Each bottle of Durfort-Vivens has 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Durfort-Vivens is in the midst of a renaissance; as the years progress, the wines receive more critical acclaim for each passing vintage. They are, without a doubt, one of the ones to watch.
"The 2017 Durfort-Vivens is fabulous, not to mention one of the under the radar gems of the year. Rich and explosive in feel, the 2017 possesses tremendous intensity in every direction. Sweet floral notes, cedar, mint and spice add shades of nuance as this potent, vertically built Margaux opens up in the glass. In 2017, severe frost took with it 35% of the production. The fruit that survived produced an epic, marvelously rich Durfort-Vivens. Don't miss it." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, (March, 2020), Rating: 95, Drink: 2025-2037
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