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 domaine 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. The sub appellation of Haut Benauge was named after a local fort (pictured below with Olivier) from the 100 Years War and created in 1955 as a superior zone for whites within Entre-Deux Mers thanks to its hillsides and limestone soils. 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 of 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. In 2019 he earned HEV certification (High Environmental Value, a new program instituted by the Ministry of Agriculture–see here for more info), and currently he has 15 acres of red varieties in conversion for organic production. 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 50 of his 126 acres of vines for the production of his two mainstays, the Haut-La Péreyre red and white.

He reserves 12 acres of his finest sites for Cuvée Meste-Jean. This is a wine he has made since 1989, but he began to tweak how he made it beginning with the 2014, and continued to refine things until 2018 when he landed on a mix of raising the wine in old and new 500-liter demi-muids with a bit of wine from tank. Our first purchase of this wine was with the superb 2016 vintage.

Château Haut-La Péreyre vineyards

The Wines

Haut-La Péreyre Bordeaux BlancRoughly 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sauvignon Gris and 15% SémillonBone-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 2,500 cases.
Haut-La Péreyre Bordeaux RoséCabernet SauvignonThis comes from a 10-acre parcel of Cabernet planted in 1998. The parcel is picked twice: first, on the opening day of the harvest, for rosé; second, about a week later, for red. It's a direct press rosé, raised in tank on its lees, and bottled at the end of February following the harvest. Crisp, racy, packed with body and lift, this is a great value.

Haut-La Péreyre Bordeaux Supérieur rouge
Typically three-quarters Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and a dollop of Petit VerdotRaised in tank without fining and bottled with a light filtration. This is a domaine 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 4,500 cases.
Haut-La Péreyre Côtes de Bordeaux Cadillac Cuvée Meste-JeanApproximately 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Petit VerdotThe 2016 was raised in a mixture of tank and barrel; there was no 2017; and the 2018 went to a mix of old and new 500-liter wood barrels. Like its little brother red, it's classical in profile, a rich, savory, focused and structured Bordeaux that comes in at remarkable price/quality ratio. Production averages 1,700 cases.