The vineyards of Château Haut-Sarpe and its close neighbour Château Clos de Sarpe are situated on the eastern part of the St Emilion plateau, just on the far side of Château Balestard La Tonnelle and Château Sansonnet. Although this is not a corner of the St Emilion appellation blessed with many famous names, it has been cultivated for many years. Trenches cut into the rock, a traditional technique which dates to the Gallo-Roman period and revived during the Middle Ages, suggests that the vine has been planted here for centuries, if not millennia.
Sadly, there are no documents telling us of life at Château Haut-Sarpe in ancient or Medieval times, and it is only during the 19th century that the story begins to become clear. Perhaps unsurprisingly much of the early history is shared with Château Clos de Sarpe, the two having common origins and common ownership for much of the time. As a consequence, much of the history presented below matches that within my profile of Château Clos de Sarpe.
The earliest references which relate to the modern-day Château Haut-Sarpe come from the 1868 Cocks et Féret, which tells us there were at least four distinct vineyards on the Sarpe plateau at this time. The two most prestigious were ranked as premiers crus; one belong to a Monsieur Ducarpe, who was producing 8 to 12 tonneaux per annum, while the other was a possession of the Comte de Carles, with a production of 10 to 15 tonneaux per annum. There were two other vignerons working the land at this time, their lesser holdings classified as deuxièmes crus. They were named Olivet, with a holding presumably of a decent size, as he was turning out betwen 10 and 12 tonneaux per annum, and Laporte, who was turning out 6 to 8 tonneaux per annum.
This situation persisted until the close of the century was near, the only development of note being the passing of the lead estate from A. Ducarpe to H. Ducarpe, presumably the next generation of this family, sometime before 1883. The Comte de Carles and the two other vignerons Olivet and Laporte all maintained a hold on their respective properties, although the names of the grander estates were embellished somewhat. The Comte’s vineyard was rechristened Sarpe-Pellatan, while the vineyard in the hands of the Ducarpe family was renamed Clos de Sarpe.