Château Haut-La Péreyre, Haut-Benauge

Château Haut-La Péreyre label

Country & RegionFrance, Bordeaux
ProducerOlivier Cailleux
FoundedOlivier is the sixth generation to manage the estate. He took over in 1994.

Château Haut-La Péreyre produced its first vintage in 1891 in the lieu-dit of Péreyre, back up in the pastoral hills of Entre-Deux-Mers. It sold its wine in bulk to négociants over the years until Olivier Cailleux’s parents began estate bottling in 1974. Olivier himself was given keys to the domain in 1994 after completing his enology studies and doing internships in South Africa, New Zealand, and at Cos d’Estournel. He is the sixth generation to manage the family’s affairs.

In these hills during the Middle Ages the local lord established his digs at the nearby Château de Benauge, which served as a fortress during the endless skirmishes of The 100 Years War. It was the last bastion to fall to the French when they won the war in 1453 and finally drove the English out of Aquitaine. Pictured on this page with Olivier, Benauge gave name to the appellation of Haut-Benauge, created in 1955 thanks to the local hillsides and limestone soils as a superior zone for whites within Entre-Deux-Mers. The appellation is reserved for both dry and sweet whites — red wine falls under the larger umbrella of Bordeaux Supérieur — but both colors do equally well here. This zone is located in the hinterland behind Cadillac, a river town that still retains its fortified walls and looks straight across the river at the appellation of Graves. (A short aside: The Cadillac Motor Company was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, a French explorer who was born near Cadillac and who founded Detroit. The Cadillac logo is based on his coat of arms.)

Olivier of Château Haut-La Péreyre and Château de Benauge

Today, Olivier farms 126 acres of grapes at Château Haut-La Péreyre. All in all, he makes a range of wine under several labels: red, white, rosé, even crémant; sells in bottle, in bag-in-box, continues to sell some in bulk (to the négoc), and he attends wine fairs on weekends to hawk his wares direct to consumers. As such, he typifies the ranks of petits chateaux, the class of unheralded small farmers who account for so much of the wine made in Bordeaux. There’s little in the way of bells and whistles to announce their wines, but they can be some of the best values in Bordeaux—and France—today.

Olivier reserves 54 of his 126 acres for the production of his two most important wines, the Haut-La Péreyre red and white. Those 54 acres represent his finest terroirs. The red varieties make up 39.5 acres and the white varieties constitute 14.5 acres.

Château Haut-La Péreyre vineyards

The Wines

Haut-La Péreyre rouge
Roughly 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet SauvignonRaised in tank without fining and bottled with a light filtration. This is a domain wine with an aromatic profile of graphite and earth that speaks clearly of Bordeaux—and one that is eminently drinkable. It is, as they say, wonderfully digestible. Production averages 5,000 cases.
Haut-La Péreyre blancRoughly 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sauvignon Gris and 15% SemillonBone-dry refreshing white Bordeaux based on Sauvignon Blanc with some Sauvignon Gris and Semillon from the Haut-Benauge subzone of Entre-Deux-Mers, a subzone in the hills behind the river town of Cadillac long recognized for white wines. This wine was not fined or cold-stabilized and may throw tartaric crystals. Production averages 2,000 cases.