Château Durfort-Vivens 2018
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.
"Minuscule récolte en raison du mildiou, vinifiée exceptionnellement en amphores de terre cuite, et sublime texture. Un futur vin culte. (translation: Tiny harvest due to mildew, vinified exceptionally in terra cotta amphora, and sublime texture. A future cult wine.)" - BETTANE & DESSEAUVE (5/3/2019), Ratings: 97-98
"The 2018 Durfort-Vivens is a total bomb. Inky, rich and explosive, the 2018 exudes concentration from the very first taste. Blackberry jam, spice, lavender, cloves and new leather infuse the 2018 with layers of depth. Durfort is without question one of the most compelling wines of the vintage. The blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc, a bit more Franc than normal because Franc proved more resistant to mildew. The 2018 was vinified entirely in amphora, with manual punchdowns." - VINOUS (ANTONIO GALLONI) , Ratings: 96, Drink: 2026-2048
"This is a crazy wine. Everything was done by hand, without electricity, because it was made in seven-hectoliter amphora. The grapes were hand-sorted. It’s full-bodied with tannins that are integrated so well into the wine, which gives it tension and freshness. Blackberries. Lavender. 10 hectoliters. Best Dufort ever?" - JAMES SUCKLING (4/12/2019), Ratings: 96-97
"Another biodynamic estate that suffered low yields in 2018, clocking in at just 10hl/ha. But it has done a brilliant job with the remaining juice: all the winemaking was done in amphorae because the vats were too big for the small production, with 70% of the wine moved into new oak barrels after malolactic fermentation for ageing, the other 30% staying in the amphorae. It's hugely inky in colour, totally beautiful, with gourmet dark chocolate and damson notes that fill out the mid-palate. There's less Cabernet in the blend than usual but they have kept the elegance, with perhaps a touch more softness in overall texture than is usual in Durfort at this stage. The extremely fine tannins make this feel effortless and it doesn't suffer from the over-concentration that is always a risk at these yields." - Decanter (JANE ANSON), Ratings: 94, Drink: 2027 - 2042
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