About Château de la Rivière

By Lisa Rowlands

On the site of an ancient Roman burial mound, Château de la Rivière has a long and colourful history dating back many centuries. The current property - a rather grandiose and stately structure - was constructed in 1577 by Gaston de L’Isle - then mayor of Bordeaux, whose family owned the estate for more than five-hundred years. It has since had a succession of owners, each looking to build on the progress of the last, and since 2013, the Château has been part of the portfolio of Chinese luxury hotel group, Bolian, with Xavier Buffo as executive director. Buffo’s more than twenty years experience at Château de la Rivière and his having worked under three of its previous owners, sees him often described as the ‘estate’s soul’.

The grape varieties here are typical of Fronsac estates with Merlot - which accounts for more than four fifths of the area under vine - supported by Cabernet Franc (8%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) and Malbec (2%). A tiny fraction of the vineyard - two hectares or so - are planted with white varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, with the former accounting for twice the area of the latter. The vines range in age from those planted in the last twenty years, to a small number which are almost a century old. The average age of the vines is thirty-three years and younger vines are planted with a greater density than the older ones.

Château de la Rivière’s Grand Vin is an enticing blend of three or four of the grape varieties in roughly the same proportions as the vineyard. The grapes of the estate’s signature wine are hand picked from its finest soils - on the plateau and the clay / limestone upper slopes. After a stringent sorting process, vinification takes place in steel or wood, followed by a period of ageing in new (60% of production) or used (the remaining 40%) oak barrels. The dominance of the Merlot grape gives Château de la Rivière’s Grand Vin a luxurious texture and roundness, whilst the Cabernet varieties bring structure, complexity and the potential to age.