On Wednesday, Chbteau Lascombes, a second-growth estate in Bordeaux's Margaux district, was purchased by the U.S. investment firm Colony Capital for 505 million francs (nearly US $69 million). Alain Raynaud, co-owner of Pomerol chbteaus La Croix de Gay and La Fleur de Gay, and owner of Chbteau Quinault, has been appointed to manage the property.
Lascombes encompasses a chbteau building with guest rooms and 210 acres of vineyards, of which 60 percent are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, 35 percent to Merlot and 5 percent to Petit Verdot. It formerly belonged to British brewer Bass Charington.
Raynaud, a former physician, is now a wine consultant for St.-Emilion chbteaus Pavie, Pavie-Decesse and Monbousquet, as well as other estates. He said that Lascombes' wines had not been living up to their full potential in recent years. "Now the challenge is to give it back the rank of second-growth that it is supposed to have," he said.
He will be working with technical director Bruno Lemoine, who formerly was responsible for Chbteau Montrose, in St.-Esthphe. Raynaud said that they would begin by reducing yields, from 600 gallons per acre to between 375 gallons and 425 gallons per acre, by pruning and green-harvesting the crop. Lascombes' annual production will be cut from 50,000 cases to 33,300 cases.
In the winery, a new system will be instituted, by which they sort the grapes twice -- once after picking and once after destemming -- with the sorting tables placed on a platform above the fermentation vats, so that the grapes can be dropped in without being pumped. The tank size will be reduced from 6,500 gallons to 4,000 gallons. The wines will undergo a cold pre-fermentation for one week, then a maceration in tanks, for three to four weeks, then aging in 100 percent new oak, on the lees.
"We do hope that, by using all these efforts, Lascombe will be at the top level of the second-growths very quickly -- by next year," said Raynaud.
Check our recent ratings ofLascombes wines.