Denis Dubourdieu

Denis Dubourdieu

The late and much missed Denis Dubourdieu, who died in the summer of 2016, did more than follow his winemaking father and grandfather's footsteps. A professor of oenology since 1987, he has been described in the past as wine's most famous scientist, and he advised some of the greatest properties in the world, including Cheval Blanc and Yquem. His skills were highly sought after.

Denis and his wife Florence ran several Bordeaux properties : Château Doisy-Daëne, Clos Floridène, Château Reynon (purchased by his father-in-law Pierre in 1958 and where Florence and Denis moved upon their marriage in 1976), Château Cantegril and Château Haura. The management of these estates now falls to Florence and his eminently capable sons, Fabrice and Jean-Jacques. As well as their legendary sweet wines, they also produce an impressive range of dry reds and whites.

The Dubourdieu family owns 135 hectares of vineyards in the Sauternes, Graves, and Cadillac-Cotes de Bordeaux regions. They use a traditional ploughing system, and are committed friends of the environment: they no longer use weed killer, they fertilise the vines with organic manure, and all bud removal, trellising and leaf removal is done by hand. Their carbon footprint is a conscious issue too: they own a forest equal to the size of their vineyards as a way of repaying their debt to the land.

Although there are a few notable exceptions, much of the family's vineyards are planted on the famous Barsac red sands, composed of red clay on a limestone subsoil. This slightly porous rock stores water throughout winter that can be dispensed to the vines during summer dry spells.

Clos Floridène, named after both Florence and Denis, was established in 1982 to complement Florence's family property at Reynon and Denis' at Doisy-Daëne. Unusually in Graves, the soil is based on limestone, which allows them to make a distinctive, floral, cabernet-based red that ages well for up to a decade and a remarkable, mineral white deserving of ageing for two to ten years. Both are excellent value.

Doisy-Daëne has been owned by the Dubourdieu family since 1924. Denis' father, Pierre Dubourdieu, was one of the most original and inventive winemakers in the region, constantly experimenting, and the first on his property to make a delicious and successful dry white, Doisy Daëne Sec.

Denis clearly followed in his father's footsteps: he became a professor at Bordeaux University and was acknowledged as the leading Bordeaux expert in white wine in Bordeaux. Château Reynon, which was Denis and Florence Dubourdieu's home property, is managed and harvested, parcel by parcel, with the same care as the family's famous Sauternes, Doisy-Daëne. The vineyard at Béguey, on a gravel and clay slope overlooking the Gironde in the Entre-Deux-Mers, is planted with half red and half white grapes. No herbicides are used here, and all of the grapes are handpicked. When they moved in the vineyard was not old but was badly planted so Denis began to replant 4 hectares a year from1988. Gradually they have also replaced the cabernet and will have 10% petit verdot (first used in 2008) with 90% merlot, because petit verdot succeeds, if well-pruned, on the land at the bottom of the slope where the other grapes do not. The vineyard is on a south-facing slope overlooking the Garonne. Merlot ripens early here, as early as in Pomerol in fact.

Reynon's red wine – a blend of 82% merlot with 13% cabernet sauvignon (a figure that is gradually decreasing) and 4% petit verdot – has ripe black-fruit aromas and fresh balance, and can age for three to eight years. The white wine, with grapefruit aroma and good length, ages equally well, and is a blend of 89% sauvignon with 11% semillon. Both wines are also aged in oak, a third of which is new, which gives a rounder texture.

Château Cantegril in Barsac has been the home of The Society's Exhibition Sauternes since 2001 (it is worth remembering that all Barsac can be Sauternes, but only Barsac can be Barsac) and this lusciously sweet wine is a blend of 64% semillon, 34% sauvignon blanc and 1% muscadelle, which is aged in 25% new oak and keeps beautifully for three to ten years.

Cantegril is now also the home of Fabrice Dubourdieu, who got married in 2012. In 2013 his wife gave birth to their first child – a new generation to continue and further the family's winemaking reputation for generations to come.

Members' Comments (0)

There are no comments for this article.

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.