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Bordeaux's Haut-Brion Buys Neighbor

Domaine Allary Haut-Brion was a longtime source of grapes for the first-growth

Suzanne Mustacich, James Molesworth
Posted: November 12, 2012

Domaine Clarence Dillon, which includes Bordeaux first-growth Haut-Brion, recently completed its purchase of Domaine Allary Haut-Brion from the Allary family. The 3.3-acre parcel, which borders Haut-Brion, had been owned by the Allary family since 1919. The purchase price was not disclosed. The land had been appraised and valued at roughly $1.4 million in March 2008.

"It was a natural course of events," Daniel Allary told Wine Spectator. "We experimented making the wine ourselves for a few years, but it was such a small quantity." The estate made about 400 cases of a Cabernet Franc-Cabernet Sauvignon blend from its gravel and clay soil. Daniel's sister Marie-Felicia Allary was the winemaker, with Stéphane Derenoncourt acting as consultant. The 2009 vintage earned a rating of 93 points from Wine Spectator.

For much of the 20th century, the Allary vines were controlled by Haut-Brion under lease, with the Allary family being paid their rent in wine. From 1954 until 1978, it was bottled under the name La Passion Haut-Brion. Then new laws forbade making two château wines in the same cellar, unless owned by the same people, so from 1979 to 2007, Haut-Brion blended the wine into their second wine, Bahans Haut-Brion.

The Allary family, led by Michel Allary, Daniel and Marie-Felicia's father, regained control of their plots in 2006. The family lost a legal battle to use the name La Passion Haut-Brion though, and thus eventually bottled their own production as Domaine Allary Haut-Brion. Their first vintage released commercially was 2008. The last vintage vinified was 2011. Michel Allary died in 2010.

"The sale went quietly; it was harmonious," said Daniel. "Haut-Brion began taking over the vineyards last summer and they harvested the 2012."

Prince Robert de Luxembourg, owner of Domaine Clarence Dillon, noted he was considering replanting the parcels in the future, though they would likely be earmarked for the second wine for now. Marie-Felicia Allary is currently considering new winemaking projects.

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