Knowledge and understanding of a terroir accumulated over 8 generations.
This vineyard, owned by the Labbé-Lalanne family has developed and grown over a number of generations.
Since 2005, Fabien Lalanne has stood proud at the helm, working hard to produce wines that faithfully express the terroir. His wife, Perrine, joined him in 2009 to assist with marketing, having worked previously for a Sauternes 1er Grand Cru.
Marie-Antoinette and Louis Labbé moved to Château Lassalle in 1947.
They were both born into families of winegrowers. Marie-Antoinette came from the commune of Isle-Saint-Georges, in the Bordeaux AOC area, and Louis Labbé inherited Château Lassalle, in La Brède.
The couple took over their respective family estates, and between them managed 7 hectares of Graves and 5 hectares of Bordeaux. Ludovic had created the estate’s first concrete fermentation cellar in 1939. At the time, the vineyard was worked using only draught horses.
In addition to carrying out various tasks in the vineyard, Marie-Antoinette managed a herd of dairy cows. Louis worked also as a broker for the company Ripert, in and around Graves and Bordeaux.
After receiving training at Château La Tour Blanche between 1962 and 1965, Louis Labbé’s son, Michel, joined his father at the age of 17 to help manage the estate’s various agricultural activities, which included not only wine production, but also livestock breeding and cereal production.
Following his father’s death, Michel began managing the estate with his mother.
Initially, the estate possessed 7 hectares of vineyard, planted mostly with white grape varieties: Uni Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle.
The Graves region was known mainly for its high-quality white wines. Red wine was produced at the vineyard for personal consumption only.
The cellar was equipped with a concrete vat and the estate used a vertical ratchet press, which required a lot of manual labour. It was at this time that Château Lassalle began employing the services of a consultant oenologist.
Until then they had worked the grounds using horses, which was more time-consuming and demanded more physical effort. Automated systems were introduced gradually from the early 1960s. The first Renault tractor replaced draught horses for several tasks, such as ploughing and vineyard treatments.
The cowshed was transformed into a vinification cellar. Château Lassalle covered a total surface area of 10 hectares.
In 1983, the estate expanded once more. Michel Labbé bought 3 hectares of Graves AOC in the same commune, bringing the total surface area of Château Lassalle to 13 hectares. A new cellar equipped with stainless steel vats was then built in 1988 to more effectively handle the harvest.
In 1999, the Labbé family decided to plant 2.5 hectares of red grape varieties, in the form of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Since 1999, the estate has been in possession of 16.5 hectares.
In the early 1990s, the white wine vats were equipped with a thermoregulation system, to control temperature more effectively during vinification.
In terms of sales, Michel Labbé continued to market the wine as his father had done, in other words in bulk through wine merchants in Bordeaux. At the time, wine merchants were also farmers, and demand for bulk wine was high both in France and abroad (Northern Europe).
His wife, Perrine, joined him in 2009 to assist with marketing, having worked previously for a Sauternes 1er Cru.
The challenge when taking over lay in more effectively marketing the wines. 95% of the harvest was sold in bulk. In order to satisfy the needs of both a private and professional customer base, Perrine and Fabien began creating new products (white, red, rosé) to offer a larger range of wine.
Fabien Lalanne devoted more time to the vineyard, reverting to more environmentally-friendly methods, including the planting of grass around the vines, tillage, use of more natural products and investments in effluent treatment equipment.
As a result of these efforts, the estate received its HEV certification in 2017 (High Environmental Value).
The winemaking techniques were also improved to produce fruitier wines revealing all the subtleties of the Graves terroir.
Today, Château Lassalle is recognised widely in both the French and international media. Its wines are distributed in France, Europe and further afield. And Perrine and Fabien are continuing to work on promoting the estate’s image.