Superstar wine couple, Hélène Garcin and Patrice Lévêque, own three ultra-premium estates in Bordeaux.
To overstate the prestige and cachet of Bordeaux is impossible. The region has been dedicated to wine growing for centuries, even before the Romans conquered the area and named it Burdigala. And Bordeaux’s legendary reputation for quality and longevity fetch top dollar in wine auctions, where single bottles often sell for over $10,000.
So, to be a superstar among such a celebrated and influential group is something rare. Hélène Garcin and Patrice Lévêque own three ultra-premium estates in Bordeaux – nothing short of remarkable. Moreover, the Garcin family, Vignobles Garcin, owns three additional and highly-regarded estates in the Pessac Leognan appellation of Bordeaux: Château Haut-Bergey, Château Branon and Château Smith Haut Lafitte.
A quick look at the three Garcin-Lévêque estates:
Château Clos L’Eglise dates back to the 18th Century and is located in the Pomerol region of Bordeaux. Situated between Châteaux Clinet and L’Eglise-Clinet, the property benefits from the very best terroir on the Pomerol upper plateau. Nearby is Pétrus known for extraordinary wine, consistently selling for upwards of $1,000 a bottle.
Château Barde-Haut – home for Hélène, Patrice and their son Louis – is located near iconic Saint-Émilion Chateaux Troplong Mondot and La Mondotte.
Château Barde-Haut is where Hélène, Patrice and their son Louis make their home. The property location is superb, next to Troplong Mondot and La Mondotte. Here, Patrice produces a wine that is both rich in fruit and elegant. And the property has a new state-of-the-art “green” winery – built entirely from oxidized steel – a dramatic departure from traditional Bordeaux styles.
Château Poesia is the newest acquisition within the Garcin-Lévêque holdings. A few years ago, the couple purchased Château Haut Villet, a neglected estate, and renamed it Château Poesia – (Poetry in English). The property consists of 13.2 hectares (32.6 acres) and is situated on a limestone plateau. The largest portion of the property sits in the Saint-Émilion Appellation, while the remaining portion is in Côtes de Castillon. To date, the estate has been completely replanted with 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. “We are really in love with this property,” enthuses Patrice. “We think Poesia will produce our first 100 pts wine.”
Patrice Lévêque is the winemaker for the Garcin-Lévêque properties.
Hélène and Patrice own yet another vineyard in Argentina’s spectacular Mendoza, located within the Luján de Cuyo Appellation – prized for it’s sandy, stony soil. Their Bodega Poesia was originally established in 1935, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Since the Garcin-Lévêque acquisition, the wines have received ratings of 94 PT and better from Robert Parker.
I catch up to Hélène and Patrice at their home in Barde-Haut, overlooking acres and acres of lush vineyards. My first question: “How do you manage the viticulture and international sales for four vineyards – especially with one in Argentina?”
“We have a LOT of help,” laughs Hélène. “We have a great team of people in both Bordeaux and Mendoza to assist with every phase of the operation. And we really do function as a team. Everyone is important. Also the fact that the seasons are reversed in Argentina from Europe is a huge help. We had looked at property in California at one point, but decided that since harvests are at the same time as Bordeaux, there was no way we could manage a U.S. property. Argentina works perfectly. And really, our schedules are pretty manageable. The fall is the only time that’s difficult. Harvest is beyond insane!”
On a tour of the vineyards, we sample 2015 vintages from Châteaux Poesia, Clos L’Eglise and Barde-Haut. The views from Poesia, high above Saint-Émilion are especially grand. The buildings are yet to be refurbished, but the swimming pool has been re-done. “We come up here and relax on weekends,” says Hélène, pointing out a barbecue grill. “We have great cookouts! Eventually we’ll rebuild completely, but the vineyard was the first priority, obviously.”
At Château Poesia, Hélène guides Deena Cossich through the vineyards, during a tour sponsored by Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.
Patrice pops open a bottle of Poesia 2013. The wine offers a beautiful nose and bold, rich structure. (At the end of this article, see the list of Garcin-Lévêque wines currently in stock, including this luscious Poesia 2013!)
At Château Clos L’Eglise an experiment is under way – the 2015 blend consists of grapes harvested early and a second batch of late-harvest grapes. We find the blend has an incredible depth of flavor – truly impressive for a young Bordeaux.
Hélène and Patrice are particularly fond of their Clos L’Eglise property. “This terroir has an equilibrium that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” says Patrice. “It provides an elegance to the wines that’s unique to this area.”
We return to Château Barde-Haut and sample more of the new 2015 vintage. This too shows great promise. “No doubt. It’s a superior vintage,” Hélène agrees.
State-of-the-art winery – built entirely from oxidized steel – at Château Barde-Haut.
I admire the “green” facility at Barde-Haut, which has recently won several awards for architectural design. “Are you moving into biodynamic cultivation for all your wineries?”
“We don’t use chemicals in any of our vineyards,” says Patrice. “But I wouldn’t say we’re biodynamic exactly. We till mechanically, although the grapes are picked and sorted by hand. In Argentina we were certified as an “organic” vineyard at one point. But eventually the certification seemed to be more of a government tax than an actual evaluation, so we didn’t reapply for it.”
Later, over dinner, we toast the future of Garcin-Lévêque wines and sample a number of their favorite vintages as well. As the evening draws on, our conversation turns to the business of winemaking and the huge amounts of money required to invest in wines – especially Bordeaux.
“Honestly, that part of the business makes me a little sad.” Hélène responds. “I don’t think of wine only as a means of making money. And I always say don’t save the wine for some special occasion that may never happen. Wine is for sharing with family and friends as part of a good meal. Drink the wine and enjoy it!”
Who could argue with such practical and poetic advice….
Text and photos by Marla Norman, Co-Owner of Michel Thibalt Wine LLC and Publisher of Travel Curious Often.