This Fronsac property, splendidly situated on slopes overlooking the confluence of the Dordogne and Isle rivers, dates back to the 17th century, and was in the Olivier family for over 300 hundred years. The family finally relinquished it in 1985, selling to Christian Moueix, but its fortunes really changed once it was purchased by successful supermarket man Jean Halley in 2000.
Under Jean’s skilled leadership, the property underwent a total makeover and much investment, and since his death in 2011 his son Guillaume has continued his good work. There are now 40 hectares under vine, one of the largest in Libourne, a result in part of the fact that Jean had merged La Dauphine with three other properties, Canon de Brem, La Croix Canon and Canon Moueix.
The vineyards, which are set out on a large south-facing slope, are planted on a mix of clay-limestone and sandy clay soils, with vines sharing an average age of 33 years.
As a result of the merger, the wine benefits from the finesse of Canon de Brem’s higher vineyards, as well as the charm and substance of those at the lower end of the slope. A further benefit is the state-of-the-art winery, which was completed in 2002, and includes an impressive temperature-controlled ageing cellar.
La Dauphine is a blend of 80% merlot and 20% cabernet franc. The wine is fermented in temperature-controlled concrete tanks before ageing for 12 months in oak barrels, 30% of them new, and can age gracefully for between five and 12 years. Vintages between 2000 and 2010 combine real finesse and velvety texture, but since Michel Rolland arrived as consultant in 2011, the style is becoming increasingly international.