Classified as a Sauternes Premier Grand Cru, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey invites guests to travel through time from the Middle Ages to the Belle Époque. The estate, owned by Lalique Group, includes a two-Michelin-star restaurant and a five-star hotel showcasing works by the iconic glassmaker.
To experience Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey is to embark on a journey through time. The first stopover is eight centuries ago, when the gateway and towers of its fortifications were built–today, these vestiges are among the oldest in the commune, Bommes, located some
25 miles/40 kilometers from Bordeaux. Lord Raymond Peyraguey constructed a fortified keep and planted the first vines in 1618. The estate changed hands over the centuries, notably being sold at auction to the Lafaurie family in 1796, after the French Revolution. It was under its ownership, in 1855, that the estate was officially designated a Sauternes Premier Grand Cru Classé. In 2013, the Château became the property of Lalique Group, which relaunched it as a hotel in 2018. The master glassmaker has introduced a new identity to the place–particularly the interior. Thus, the second stop on your journey is somewhere between the Belle Époque and the Roaring Twenties, straddling Art Deco and Art Nouveau–René Lalique was, after all, one of the most illustrious ambassadors of the so-called Modern Style. “The designers Lady Tina Green and Pietro Mingarelli managed to reproduce the spirit of Lalique’s creations. That was the guiding principle for the restoration,” says hotel manager Tristan Beau de Loménie. “It is also what drives the teams devoted to the vineyards and restaurant.”
The two-star ‘chef-winegrower’
With two stars in the Michelin Guide for his restaurant, the Alsatian-born chef was also awarded the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2022–this prestigious designation recognizes the contribution of leading artisans across a range of specialities for their efforts in preserving French heritage. Jérôme Schilling defines himself as ‘culinarian of the vines’ or ‘chef-winegrower’, a suitably dual identity for the head cook of a castle that has refined its wine over such a long period. “We let go of vineyards whose quality was slightly less exceptional, representing about 49 acres/20 hectares,” Jérôme explains. “That took us back to the layout of the estate in 1855–ninety-five per cent Sémillon, four per cent Sauvignon blanc, and one per cent Muscadelle. We also adopted an old-fashioned approach in working the vines, replacing tractors with horses. That means the ground is not as compacted, which benefits vine stocks. Their roots can grow deeper, more easily, to get what they need–and the vineyards are better prepared to resist extreme climate events, both very cold periods and heat waves.”
The team eschews chemical pesticides, replacing them with plant coverage between the vines. This provides organic material that enhances the biological richness of the soil. The practice was driven by Simon Deleporte, the cellarmaster whose savoir-faire perpetuates the quality of Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey wines. References to this nectar are present throughout the hotel and restaurant. “The cookery is inspired by the vineyard, and the dishes reproduce the flavors,” he says. “The menu changes with each season: hake in grapeseed oil, vine-smoked scallops with parsnips and white truffle, egg cooked in a gin-and-Sauternes marinade... Everything here inspires the chef, who grew up among the vines.” The wine list features 2,600 options from the private cellar of Silvio Denz–head of the Lalique Group–and the selection of sommelier Romain Iltis, another Meilleur Ouvrier de France in his field. In addition to the refined fare of the restaurant–the only star-rated establishment in Sauternes–the setting is exceptional. “The hotel showcases the savoir-faire of Lalique. You see that influence at every turn: it might be a beautiful bottle with inlays, decorative objects in glass and crystal, or any of the exceptional furniture,” says Tristan. “A visit is a reminder of Lalique’s glory at the beginning of the last century, as demonstrated by bottles with the ‘Femme et raisins’ (‘Woman and grapes’) engraving that René Lalique designed in 1928–today aboard the Orient Express. Or the Champs-Élysées chandelier Marc Lalique designed in 1951, among many other examples.”
A love for exquisite craftsmanship
The marriage between the two luxury houses has been going on for a decade–more a labor of love than a transactional relationship, according to Tristan: “What the two have in common is a love for beautiful things, French savoir-faire, and connections between fields of luxury. Lalique is one of the last bastions of that handwrought world, and we continue to uphold manual work here, too. Making wine in Sauternes is a form of luxury craftsmanship.” The idea is that quality forges an identity. Sauternes yields much less than other wines, making it an exceptional product. It takes advantage of ‘noble rot’, a grape fungus which lends it its inimitable color and taste. “It’s impossible to use a harvesting machine here,” says Tristan. “All labor is performed manually: bunches are gathered by hand and grapes are selected almost individually.” Upholding and elaborating on tradition does not preclude boldness. Not only do the cellars have an emblematic crystal Lalique cask, but one other unique barrel also contains the wines of Lafaurie-Peyraguey. Purchased from The Glenturret,
the oldest working distillery in Scotland, it once contained whisky, but now mellows Sauternes reserved for the estate–lending it a unique taste while representing the Château turning to the future, diversifying in the same spirit of excellence.