Chateau Font Merlet, Pierre Barbe, Bordeaux Superieur
The Chateau Font Merlet formerly belong to Château Fonchereau in Montussan when built in the 1500’s. The building, operated as a stagecoach, welcoming historical characters such as D’Artagnan himself. As a true inn receiving travelers in the heart of the Bordeaux region, they provided a stable for horses to rest, meals, beverages and rooms for their master to stay. Naturally, tired customer by long day of labor would seek the benefit of some delicious fine wine. It ended up for the Inn, future Chateau Font Merlet, with drinkable supplies. Little by little, horse were replaced by cars and inn were soon to be centralized in the proximity of bigger cities instead of country side. The inn, then, naturally transitioned into a fully fledged winery, Chateau Font-Merlet.
In 1936, Pierre Barbé’s great grandfather and his son purchased together the Château Font Merlet with 2 hectares of vineyard (5 acres). His great-grand father worked as a cellar master while his son (Pierre’s grandfather) was hired by a wine merchant in Bordeaux. They operated together and produced grapes they were selling to the wine merchants of Bordeaux.
In 1939, Pierre’s grandfather was captured and imprisoned for 5 years by the Nazis. His wife owned a little epicerie meanwhile and was able to provide for her family. When her husband was released and came back home, they continue farming the land but their incomes came first and foremost from the epicerie business. Still, they operated this way until 1977.
Pierre’s grandfather gifted that year the estate to his daughter, Pierre’s mother. Her husband, Pierre’s father, was the one who actually operated it and was enthusiastic about it. The first turn that he took was to change their model and started to bottle his own wine. The first vintage released was 1977. He also started to invest and extended the vineyard up to 8.60 hectares (20 acres). Meanwhile, his son, Pierre, build up his career in the wine as the director of famous estate on the left bank of the Bordeaux region and in managing riding stable, his other passion. Both he and his father always connected for key step of the wine process, this way, Pierre could take over once time comes.
And that time came in 2010 when his father retired. Pierre was facing multiple challenge. In order to grow both in quality and in size, renovation of his barrel cellar was in order along building a fermentation room with updated and modern equipment. He needed also to replant some vines and took an opportunity to purchase a vineyard in Verre, Chateau Au Grillon. As of today, his estate’s size reached 18 hectares (45 acres) and updated with the latest technology, producing wine as eco-friendly as possible.
Pierre is driven by this philosophy and is proud to be certified HVE. He optimizes the sustainability of his Chateau and always search for more ways to perfect this aspect of his work. He produces natural wine (without the addition of artificial yeast), keep inputs way under (and some vintage with none) any requirements prone by HVE standard and always keep his yield to a low so quality prevails over quantity.
Pierre’s gaze is now directed to new project since he achieved the foundation. For him, he operates an estate that satisfied him in term of size: more vineyard would mean lower quality of cares and this doesn’t represent Pierre. He just intend to offer a bigger selection of wine : rosé, whites, crémant de Bordeaux rosé and maybe a premium cuvee. Until now, he only produced 2 wines related to their own estate and would never do a second label: for him, each wines he produces has to be a first label: a perfectionist through and through.