Everything you Need to know about Chateau Biac
Tasting Notes, Wine Reviews & Related Posts
In the 17th century, Chateau Biac was spread over 37 hectares of land, much more that the current vineyard area of 15 hectares (37 acres). The architecture of the buildings that now host the winery suggests that it may have been used as a barn to store grain and shelter cattle.
The original Château called “Le Vieux Biac” has now been converted into guesthouses. The agricultural buildings that were next to it are currently used as offices and entertaining rooms.
The Château was built in 1755 by the daughter of the Baron of Langoiran who owned Biac. The stones to build it most probably came from the quarry in Biac estate’s woods themselves.
In 1820, Biac was sold to the Mayor of Langoiran, Mr Gregoire Andrieu. His family and their descendants, the Bassal Andrieu, established Biac’s reputation for excellence well into the 20th century: “The vines for the white wine came from Château d’Yquem, whilst those for the red came from the very finest Châteaux in St Emilion” and the wines from the Estate started to be known for “… class, finesse, ranked amongst the very first growths of the commune”, Bordeaux et ses vins , Editions Feret, 1874 and 1893.
Sometime during the 19th century, the family added the imposing square-shaped tower to the 18th century body of the house.
More recently, Biac was sold during the late 1960s, to Frederic Bonnard, oenologist and a relative of the famous painter Pierre Bonnard. In 1977, it was acquired by Paul and Marie Helene Ducatez.
Following her untimely death, the Schroeder Rossini family bought Château Biac in 1995 and owned it until 2006, when we acquired it.
Who are we now?
Having spent many summers in its vicinity, we discovered Château Biac when we rented its guesthouses.
We – Tony, Youmna, Yasmina, Gabriel and Antonia – are a Lebanese family. How we ended up owning a vineyard in Bordeaux is another story, best heard by coming to visit us… However, since we became “accidental” winemakers or viticulturists in 2006, we have made a determined commitment to perpetuate the Biac legacy of excellence. We hope to ensure that Château Biac remains one of the finest properties of the region at the center of Bordeaux’s history of fine wines.
The property is located in Langoiran, near Cadillac, and is situated on steep slopes, providing excellent natural drainage, facing South South West and overlooking two bends in the Garonne River.
This is unique in Bordeaux in that we are right in the axis of the river (not parallel to it). The flow of water which comes towards Biac and flows to the right of the property used to happen over the vineyard many centuries ago when the entre-deux-mers was below water. As a result of this, the terroir of Biac is extremely diverse ranging from pure clay to dense gravel over just 800 metres. We have a “terroir de poche” de Bordeaux on just 9.8 hectares of vines.
Thanks to the Garonne, we have protection from spring frosts, and there is always a cool breeze on the property in the summer. The amphitheatre shape of Biac directs the humidity coming from the river straight up the property past the main house and right onto the Semillon plot.
The wines of Biac are often referred to as being fresh…could it be the breeze from the Garonne?
As previously mentioned we have an extremely diverse soil which are the following:
- 100% pure gravel: ideal for cabernet sauvignon
- Clay-limestone soil suits the cabernet franc beautifully
- Silt and sand plots offer optimal growing conditions not only for merlot but also for Semillon and sauvignon blanc.
- The survey of one small plot of pure clay revealed that the Petit Verdot would thrive and it has therefore been introduced on the property.
All these soils sit on a chalk platform.
Vineyards and grape varieties
The overall vineyard is approx. 15.5 hectares of which 9.8 are vines. To this day, and following our restructuring of the vineyard we now have:
-16% Cabernet Sauvignon
-13% Cabernet Franc
-3% Petit Verdot
-2% Sauvignon Blanc
The winery dates back at least 200 years and has been expanded over the centuries. The walls are made of local stone with a traditional wooden roof structure and tiles.
The inside of the winery and layout were gut renovated in 2007. A series of small thermoregulated stainless steel vats were selected to match the estimated yield of each plot and sub plot.
A small winery within the winery was created to enable the production of the sweet wine. There are several French coopers represented. We aim to have approximately 40% new oak, 40% one wine and 20% two wines. For the white wine we use 100% new French oak barrels.
An overall study of Biac led to a restructuring of parts of the vineyard over 12 years so that the average age of the vines does not drop too low.
Each plot and sub plot was analysed and its geological structure was matched to the most appropriate grape variety, root-stock and clone. Prior to replanting the restructured plots, we installed a new drainage system and doubled the density of the vines to 9,100 vines per hectare.
All traditional vineyard practices are done such as ploughing, grape thinning, deleafing etc. We have a strong emphasis on proper nutrition of the soil to allow for healthier plants to develop which can therefore resist better to diseases and bad weather.
In 2013, the result of this good practise allowed for Biac to be singled out as having healthier grapes allowing them to resist rot in an especially challenging and humid vintage. Manual harvesting was re-instated. The red wines are aged 14-16 months in French oak barrels of which approx. 40% are new, 40% are one wine and 20% are two wines. The sweet wines are ages in 100% new French oak barrels.
Owners: Tony and Youmna Asseily and their family, of Lebanese origin, acquired the property in 2006. Having spent several consecutive summers in the region and feel in love with Bordeaux. Their quest for the property was supposed to be a holiday house, but the uniqueness of Biac seduced them into changing their lives and becoming passionate winemakers.
Patrick Leon (red wine oenologist):
Patrick’s unparalleled experience in shaping some of the greatest wines of the world makes him one of the most respected “Masters” in the wine world.
After joining Alexis Lichine and Co in 1972 in Bordeaux where he oversaw their purchasing of French wines, he went on to become the Technical Director of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s wine estates including Mouton Rothschild, Armailhac and Clerc Milon. During his tenure, he also created illustrious wines such as Opus One in the US and Almaviva in Chile. His unequalled expertise coupled with a wide and diversified international experience combine to give him an instinctive and immediate appreciation of a terroir’s quality.
Fate, in the shape of a very good friend, brought him to us in January 2008. From the moment we met, a natural friendship developed brought by a human understanding of each other’s aspirations and the exciting challenge of revealing Biac’s unique potential.
Little did we know that early in his professional life, when establishing the Cadillac Oenology Laboratory nearby, he would stop sometimes at the end of a long working day to admire Biac and the view from the hilltop road and hoped one day to acquire it!
Christine Sourdes (sweet wine consultante oenologist):
Born and growing up in Barsac where her parents owned vineyards, Christine Sourdes has always been surrounded by vines. She studied oenology at the Université de Bordeaux, mostly under Professor Denis Dubourdieu (now President of the new Faculté d’Oenologie), and started her professional life in 1986 working in the Fraud Repression Services under Pierre Sudreau. Upon his retirement, Mr Sudreau encouraged Christine to take up his famous oenology laboratory, which she did as the first woman ever to carry out this activity in the Sauternes region.
Christine’s passion for winemaking is tangible and contagious: her ability to understand and reveal a vineyard’s potential is as precise as her rigorous work ethic and sense of humour!
Gilles Rey (soil engineer):
Gilles Rey has been involved with our vineyard almost since the beginning. Previously working with Patrick Léon (our consultant oenologist), at Mouton Rothschild for 18 years, he now applies his extensive knowledge here in Biac as well as other carefully selected vineyards across the world.
If you believe in the magical aptitudes of horse whisperers and dog whisperers, then Gilles Rey is the ultimate “soil whisperer”… One could walk the vineyard with him a thousand times and still have more to learn.
Like with all perfectionists, his expectations can sometimes be demanding! However, the very visible transformation of our vineyard since 2006 could not have taken place without him.
We blend gradually to make our red wines (Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux)-Chateau Biac, B de Biac and Felix de Biac.
They are all of the same quality in that the grapes which go into Felix one year may end up in the Chateau the following year. They are just three different expressions of the terroir, with a different purpose. The Chateau is designed to be aged and drunk over a long period of time, the B can also be aged but is ready to drink slightly earlier than the Chateau, and Felix is our everyday drinking wine. My mother often says that in musical terms, the Chateau is the symphony, the B the chamber music, and Felix the song we sing under the shower everyday!
The sweet wine, Secret de Château Biac in the Cadillac appellation, is a very small and exclusive production. We bottle it in 50cl bottles and magnums. Some years, we make a special Cuvée, L’Ultra Secret de Chateau Biac. It can be as small as half a barrel for the entire vintage and is therefore exclusively sold at the property under exceptional circumstances.
Prices for the Chateau Biac range from Eur 29-38 depending on the vintage, the B de Biac Eur 19-26, Felix Eur 12-14.
The Secret de Chateau Biac (sweet wine) varies between Eur 29-40 per 50cl bottle.
Cellar door information
We are delighted to receive people on appointment. We also have guesthouses for rent. More details on Chateau Biac website.