Château Doisy-Daëne – Barsac AOC Sauternes, France
Philip Day discusses Château Doisy-Daëne, discussing both its history and viticulture.
Two of the most successful sweet wines sold internationally in 2018 originated from the same château: Château Doisy-Daëne. These wines were Château Doisy-Daëne Barsac, a Sauternes Deuxième Cru Classé and L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne, an extra sweet Sauternes produced from highly botrytised grapes. (This is where the grapes have been affected by the fungus (Botrytis cinerea) which causes ‘noble rot’ having the effect of reducing the water content of the grapes and increasing their overall concentration of sugar.)
Since both these wines boast stunningly luscious and silky textures and flavours that perfectly balance sweetness with fresh acidity and minerality, it is not surprising that they continue to sell well, as wines from this estate are considered the quintessential wines of this appellation.
Château Doisy-Daëne is Bordeaux wine producer located in the commune of Barsac (in the Department of Gironde in the Nouvelle Aquitaine Region), cultivating some 18.2 hectares (45 acres) of vineyards, planted with 86% Sémillon and 14% Sauvignon Blanc.
The sweet white wine it produces is ranked as Second Cru Classé (French: ‘Second Growth’) under the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. It belongs to the Sauternes appellation (Sauternes AOC) in Gironde, in the region of Graves, although Barsac wine growers have the choice to market their wine under the Barsac appellation (Barsac AOC) or Sauternes AOC, meaning that all Barsac wines could also be Sauternes wines while Sauternes wines are not allowed to display ‘Barsac’ on their label.
Château Doisy-Daëne’s wines can age gracefully for up to 20 years.
The name Doisy-Daëne was devised by the owner in the late 1800’s, Jacques Emmanuel Daëne, who added his surname to the name of the vineyard at the time.
Since 1924 Château Doisy Daëne has been owned by the Dubourdieu family, when Georges Dubourdieu purchased it from the heirs of its previous owner. At the time, the property had only 4 hectares under vine. However, slowly but surely the family increased the size of the vineyard by acquiring more neighbouring properties.
Georges remained in control of the estate until 1949, when his son Pierre Dubourdieu took over. In the early 1950s, one of Pierre Dubourdieu’s innovate decisions, was to begin producing a dry white wine, a first for the Sauternes area.
Pierre’s son Denis Dubourdieu was equally as innovative as his father as in 1990 as a result of an experiment, Denis oversaw the introduction of l’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne, a concentrated wine of higher sweetness than usual Sauternes, produced from highly botrytised grapes.
When his father retired in 2000, Denis Dubourdieu took over the management of the family estates. Being a respected Professor of Oenology at Bordeaux University and consultant at numerous Bordeaux estates, on the production of their red, dry white and sweet wines, Denis Dubourdieu was perfect for the job.
In 2014, Denis Dubourdieu added to the family’s holdings in Sauternes on the purchase of the Château Doisy-Dubroca estate of from the Lurton family, whose vines will be re-incorporated back into the vineyard of Château Doisy-Daene.
In 2016, Denis Dubourdieu was awarded the distinguished Legion d’Honneur from the French government, in recognition of his work in the French wine industry being a highly respected oenologist and director of the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of the University of Bordeaux.
He was also given the Man of the Year award for from the prestigious Decanter magazine. Sadly, at the age of 67 Denis Dubourdieu passed away in the July of the same year. His two sons, Jean Jacques Dubourdieu and Fabrice Dubourdieu have taken over the management of all of the Dubourdieu family estates. The family business still retains the name of their late father however as the group is registered as ‘Denis Dubourdieu Domaines’.
Doisy-Daëne is one of five châteaux owned by the Dubourdieu family. The other estates are Châteaux Reynon, Cantegril, Haura and Clos Floridene, totalling 135 hectares (334 acres), in the Sauternes, Graves and Cadillac-Côtes de Bordeaux regions.
|Barsac AOC, Sauternes AOC, Bordeaux AOC|
|Owner||Denis Dubourdieu Domaines|
|Planted Acreage||Château Doisy Daëne :18.2 hectares (45 acres)|
All domaines: 135 hectares (334 acres)
|Grape varieties||Sémillon (86 %) and Sauvignon Blanc (14 %)|
|Wines produced||Château Doisy Daëne Barsac AOC|
L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne Sauternes AOC
Grand Vin Sec du Château Doisy-Daëne (Bordeaux AOC)
|Red sand, clay and limestone soils.|
|Production||Around 600 000 bottles annually.|
|Top Vintages Produced|
|1929, 1952, 1953, 1975, 1986, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018.|
Situated not far from to Château Climens, in Barsac, the vineyard has a terroir that consists of red sand, clay and limestone soils. The vines have been planted to a density of 7,000 vines per hectare. On average, the vines are maintained at 35 years of age.
Almost completely replanted during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the established 18.2 hectares Doisy-Daëne vineyard is over forty years old, with a density of around 7,000 plants per hectare. It is planted with 86 % Sémillon and 14 % Sauvignon Blanc varieties.
In order to adhere to environmental and organic practices developed by their forebears, the Dubourdieu brothers make use of traditional ploughing methods on the soil of their vineyard and spurn the use of chemical weed-killers and synthetic pesticides.
Similarly, the vine soils are enriched with organic manures composed of vegetal-based composts. Furthermore all trellising work and bud and leaf removal are carefully done by hand.
The vines, “grown like in a garden”, within an orderly and well preserved environment, produce early concentrated tasty grapes which have the smoothness and brightness of fresh fruit aromas the brothers wish to obtain in their wines.
To further mediate for the effects of the environmental impact of all of its business activities and vineyard production, and in an effort to balance their carbon footprint, the company also manages an area of forest equal in size to all its vineyards.
During the production of Château Doisy-Daëne wine, it is vinified in French oak barrels where it remains on average for 10 months in 65% new, French oak barrels. After this, the wine is aged in tanks for about 8 months prior to bottling.
Château Doisy-Daëne produces three wines:
The first is a great sweet Barsac/Sauternes wine Doisy Daëne.
Secondly, it makes Grand Vin Sec du Château Doisy-Daëne, a distinguished and unusual dry Bordeaux Blanc from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, aged 8 months in oak barrels of which 20% is of new oak.
During the great vintages, Doisy-Daëne also produces a special wine, a famous and rare cuvée of unequaled richness: L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne, an extra sweet Sauternes.
This cuvée is produced from a vineyard selection of their best grapes and aged in a minimum of 75% new French oak barrels for between 18 and 24 months. It saw its début vintage in 1990.
What distinguishes this wine from their regular cuvée, and to be honest, all other Sauternes wines, is its extremely high sugar levels. L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne can be almost twice as high in sugar levels than their regular Barsac/Sauternes. It can also be lower in alcohol.
Interestingly, the blend of grape varieties can vary from vintage to vintage, typical blends vary between 45% to 80% Sémillon and 20% to 55% Sauvignon Blanc.
On rare occasions 100% Sauvignon Blanc is used. 1997 also saw a 100% Sémillon, just to add to the confusion.
Not much of this special wine is produced. On average, only about 100 cases are made.
L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne is priced to compete with Château d’Yquem. Since not much is produced, it makes it one of the more difficult Sauternes to find, as well as one of the most expensive. The wine is usually only sold in half bottles (375 ml), often packaged in its own wooden case.
L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne has only been produced in 1990, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Denis Dubourdieu Domaines run several estates (Châteaux Doisy-Daëne, Reynon, Cantegril, Haura and Clos Floridene) totalling 135 hectares (334 acres), located in the boroughs of Barsac en Sauternes region, Pujols sur Ciron and Illats in the Graves region, and Béguey and Laroque in the Cadillac-Côtes de Bordeaux region.
Average production is around 600,000 bottles annually, with some 60% sold on the export market.
Address: Denis Dubourdieu Domaines 15, Gravas – 33720 BARSAC – FRANCE
Telephone: +33 (0)5 56 62 96 51
Fax: +33 (0)5 56 62 14 8
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- Johnson, Hugh (2018) Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2019, Octopus Publishing Group, London.
- Robinson, Jancis & Harding, Julia (2015) The Oxford Companion to Wine (Fourth Ed.) Oxford University Press, UK.
- MacNeill, Karen (2015) The Wine Bible (Second Ed.) Workman Publishing Co., Inc, New York USA.
- Johnson, Hugh & Robinson, Jancis (2013) The World Atlas of Wine (seventh ed.) Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. London UK.
- (Kindly provided by Denis Dubourdieu Domaines/ Château Doisy-Daëne)