After 44 vintages at one of the world's most famous wineries, Jean-Claude Berrouet is ready to call it a day. The longtime technical director at Château Pétrus in Bordeaux's Pomerol region will retire at the end of the 2007 vintage.
Berrouet has made the wine at Pétrus since 1964, hired by a then unknown Libourne négociant named Jean-Pierre Moueix, who had just purchased a share of the château and its vineyards. The 1964 wine was a blockbuster (it still is, at an average auction price of $1,641 per bottle), and Pétrus was on its way to being a prized collectible. Through the decades, Berrouet earned a reputation for being a master of Merlot.
"Jean-Claude Berrouet's contribution has not only been lengthy, but also, immeasurable," said Christian Moueix, the late Jean-Pierre's son, who manages Pétrus and Establissments Jean-Pierre Moueix, a collection of Right Bank estates—including Château Trotanoy—that Berrouet was also technical director for. "With a lifelong passion in poetry as well as wine, his philosophy has been for the wines to express their terroir, always favoring elegance over extraction."
Moueix said that Berrouet's retirement had been anticipated (he turned 65 this spring). Berrouet will remain a consultant for the Moueix properties and will have more time to focus on his own family wineries: Vieux Château Saint André in Montagne St.-Emilion and Henri Mina, a white wine producer in Iroulgéy in the French Pyrenees, where Berrouet's father was originally from.
As for Pétrus, Moueix said that Berrouet's son, Olivier, who has worked as an enologist at Château Cheval-Blanc, will be taking over as winemaker. Eric Murisasco, cellar master at Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix since 1993, will succeed Jean-Claude Berrouet as technical director for the Mouiex firm.