While much of my time and attention in Bordeaux is soaked up by the region’s grandest names, from Château Haut-Brion and Château Latour on the left bank, to Château Ausone and Petrus on the right bank, I do recognise the importance of looking at less sidereal properties. One which I would never wish to overlook is Château Barreyres; this was a domaine I first encountered very early in my wine education, and I was immediately drawn to the contrast of the minty pyrazines, which I would later learn were so typical of Cabernet Sauvignon, against the rich backdrop of dark blackcurrant fruits. Since then, whenever I have returned to the wine of this estate, I have been impressed not just by its charm, but also by its consistently strong performance across the better vintages.
Despite maintaining a rather low profile in recent years, this estate boasts an impressive history to rival that of any more renowned grand cru classé château. It was for several centuries the seat of the noble Dupérier de Larsan family which counted among their number military officers, recipients of the Légion d’Honneur and ambassadors to foreign nations. One of the earliest mentions of the property in the region’s wine literature is to be found in the Traité sur les vins du Médoc (first edition, Chaumas, 1824) by Wilhelm Franck, who indicates the presence of the Cru de Bareyre in Arcins, which at the time was in the possession of the Duperiez (as he spelt it) family, and producing between 30 and 40 tonneaux per annum. The proprietor at the time was likely to be Jean Baptiste du Périer de Larsan (born c.1760), the son of Marc Antoine du Périer de Larsan (born c.1715), the seigneur of Larsan (among numerous other titles) and governor of Bordeaux.
Jean Baptiste married Marguerite de Mauvezin around 1800 and they had three children, including just one son, Timothée du Périer de Larsan (1805 – 1893). He had presumably taken charge of the estate when it was cited in the first ever edition of Cocks et Féret, in 1850, when Bareyre as it was named was noted to be in the hands of the Duperrier de Larsan family. Timothée married Emmeline de Saint-Saud (1824 – 1852) and they had two sons, and it also seems likely that it was Timothée who was responsible for the building of the château at this time. Responsibility for the estate seems to have fallen to the younger, Pierre Allain (1848 – 1908), Baron du Périer de Larsan, and during his time production increased, up to 45 tonneaux (a handsome 180 modern-day barrels) of red wine per annum by 1874.