Chateau Le Payral
From 1992, Thierry and Isabelle Daulhiac have had the run of the nineteenth century manor house and the surrounding fifteen hillside hectares of vineyards, since it was handed down to them from the previous two generations. They are nestled between two oft-foggy appellations of Montbazillac and Sainte-Foy, in the town of Razac de Saussignac, with vines facing the Dordogne, about two kilometers to the north. When they took over in 1992, traditional farming methods were common, but the duo have slowly converted to organic (near biodynamic) practices in the vineyards. They cultivate eight hectares of white grapes (Sémillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc) and seven of red (Merlot with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon). The organic methods have improved the outcome of their pebbled, muddy soils, heavy with clay, silt and sand, preventing the mildew and rot that the area can so easily bring. The cellar sees a combination of traditional and unique practices, incorporating some modern techniques to present more elegant and pure-fruited wine, and ageing occurs in a combination of oak and steel. A bright future lies ahead as they see the benefits of their natural ways affecting their plots. Perhaps the ideas will flow as easily into the wine making, ready to pass along to the next inhabitants of the elder estate. We like the prospects so far.