In the French branch of the Rothschild family, the tradition of wine dates back to 1868 with the purchase of Chateau Lafite by James de Rothschild. After more than a century, Baron Edmond de Rothschild strengthened the family’s wine tie with the purchase of two ‘’crus bourgeois’’ from Médoc region, he then founded the ‘’Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild). Today, Baron Benjamin and his wife Ariane de Rothschild have continued the production of top quality wines with the highest of standards, both in terms of the choice of new ‘’terroir’’ and at each stage of vinification.
CHÂTEAU DES LAURETS
FLECHAS DE LOS ANDES
RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD
In the early 1970s, Edmond de Rothschild, who already held a stake in Château Lafite-Rothschild, decided he wanted to purchase another estate in the Médoc. The Baron was game for the challenge posed by an atypical property: Château Clarke. The estate has a rich history. Purchased in the 18th century by its namesake Irish family, Château Clarke became quite famous in the early 20th century before it was gradually forgotten. The chateau was once widely admired for the quality of its red wines, as well as for its white wines, which is rare in the region. Production of the cleverly named "Merle Blanc de Château Clarke" began around 1890. Intrigued by these details and eager to restore luster to the estate's legacy and wines, Edmond de Rothschild purchased Château Clarke in 1973.
Edmond de Rothschild chose to redesign the vineyard: the existing vines were completely uprooted and replanted. This time-consuming effort, which further delayed wine production, was a big risk. The process began in 1974 and was not completed until 1979. The acquisition of the estate was accompanied by a bold show of independence: the Baron decided to market Château Clarke wines outside the Bordeaux wine selling system. In 1998, Benjamin de Rothschild took the reins of Château Clarke from his father. He launched a new series of investments which included renovating the fermentation room and calling on the expertise of oenologist Michel Rolland.
CHÂTEAU DES LAURETS
Until 2003, Château des Laurets was an underachieving winery. Its wine – mostly sold in bulk to Bordeaux wine sellers – did not leverage the possibilities of this exceptional terroir atop the extension of the Saint- Émilion limestone plateaus. This was the situation when Benjamin de Rothschild bought the property. A firm believer in the potential of the site and its 95 hectares, he knew that Château des Laurets could produce great wines. The Baron was also won over by the estate's visual treasures. From the magnificent 19th-century chateau with its unusual architecture and octagonal central tower to the old stables, sheep house, lake and slopes with full southern exposure that stretch out in a single band around the grounds, the Baron had plans to showcase it all.
Major work began as soon as the Compagnie Vinicole acquired the property. While conditions throughout much of the vineyard made it possible to operate without changes, significant investments were made in the wine storehouses to fit the estate with modern, high-performance equipment. The fermentation room was overhauled in 2004. Smaller wood and stainless steel tanks enable vinification by plot for a quality-driven approach that has transformed the estate's wines. Yields were also reduced to improve the quality of the grapes harvested. Benjamin de Rothschild's policy was clear: the goal was no longer to sell in bulk, but to give the vineyard the means to produce great wines bottled at the estate under the winery's label. His gamble paid off: the output from Château des Laurets now ranks among the most promising young wines of Saint-Émilion.
FLECHAS DE LOS ANDES
In the late 1990s, the Uco Valley was still an unfamiliar wine-making area in Argentina. Just a few pioneers were taking interest in this extraordinary location at the base of the Tupungato volcano at over 1,000 metres above sea level. One of them was oenologist Michel Rolland, who found a large group of plots near the village of Vista Flores with properties that were ideally suited to growing grapes. A firm believer in the project's potential, he started looking for partners to bring this new estate to life. Benjamin de Rothschild and Laurent Dassault were won over by the site and by the challenge to create a vineyard from scratch and to produce great wines in this new region. They had to do everything. Each partner bought 100 hectares, which they combined to create a vast, coherent property. Construction work was required to deliver electricity and irrigation to the site. The vines were planted gradually from 1999 onward. A cellar was built in 2003 and has been in operation since the 2004 harvest, which marked the birth of Flechas de los Andes.
Building the winery was an ambitious undertaking. Its decor and layout were dreamed up by science fiction artist Philippe Druillet and its architecture is one of a kind. Arrows feature heavily in the design, echoing the visual trademark of the Rothschild family, while also honouring the style of traditional Argentine estancias. The structures and architectural details (patio, gallery, gates, etc.) were all made by local masons, woodworkers, metalworkers and craftsmen with an emphasis on regional materials. Today, the winery at Flechas de los Andes is well known throughout the Mendoza province. The Uco Valley is now a major wine-making region of national and international renown. It is home to some of the country's best malbecs. Today Alta Vista, Bodega Rolland, Cuvelier de los Andes, Diamandes, Monteviejo and Flechas de los Andes are all major players in Argentine grape growing.
Driven by their quest to find the best soils and discover local varieties, Benjamin and Ariane de Rothschild aspired to produce a great wine in Spain. In the early 2000s, they met Pablo Alvarez, owner of Vega Sicilia, an encounter that was the genesis of this ambitious undertaking. United by their shared vision rooted in authenticity and know-how, and their desire to forge a long-term collaboration, the two families committed seven years and 70 transactions to purchasing the 110 hectares of vineyards located in the Rioja Alta region, home to Spain's first wines.
The Macán name was inspired by the nickname given to residents of the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, where the estate is located. Benjamin and Ariane de Rothschild and the Alvarez family have pooled their energy and expertise to adapt the French " château" concept to Spain in an entirely new way, with an unbroken chain of production from grape-growing to wine-making. Their success was instant: the first Macán vintage (2009) sold out within a few weeks.
In 2012, Benjamin de Rothschild noted that the Compagnie Vinicole's portfolio was short on white wines. He first considered increasing the production of Merle Blanc at Château Clarke or branching out to other prestigious French regions, such as Burgundy or the Loire. But his taste for adventure, combined with the Compagnie Vinicole's pioneering spirit, could not be suppressed: the Baron ultimately decided to explore a new part of the world, New Zealand. This country, and especially the Marlborough wine region, offers remarkable conditions for growing sauvignon blanc.
In 2012, the Compagnie Vinicole acquired a 24-hectare vineyard on the Ripaura site in the heart of Marlborough. To help get the project off the ground, Benjamin de Rothschild decided to work with New Zealand's Peabody family, which already owned a top-notch winery, Craggy Range. The estate's wines draw heavily on local know-how and facilities, but they also benefit from the expertise of the Compagnie Vinicole team. This winning combination has enabled Rimapere's white wines to quickly achieve a high level of quality and international acclaim. Rimapere means "five arrows" in Maori, a reference to the symbol of the Rothschild family.
RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD
It began in 1690 when Jean and Daniel Nortier, brothers from an exiled protestant Huguenot family, decided to build a farm in Fredericksburg, South Africa. The brothers found a landscape at the foot of Simonsberg Mountain that reminded them of France, and began planting grapevines. The vineyard grew and ultimately transformed itself into one of the biggest historic wineries in South Africa. In 1997, under the leadership of Benjamin de Rothschild, the Compagnie Vinicole sought to diversify its production and took an interest in "New World" wine-making. The Baron chose to team up with the Rupert family, which then owned Fredericksburg, so that together they could craft great wines from this southern hemisphere terroir. The Compagnie Vinicole bought 50% of the estate and embarked on an ambitious project with its South African partner: "Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons". A modern wine cellar was built the first year.
Thanks to its high national profile, the Rupert family gave the estate's wines an instant local reputation, while the Rothschild name, backed by the prestige of the Compagnie Vinicole, guaranteed strong international appeal. But it was first and foremost the quality of the vintages, which are now acknowledged as some of the finest wines in South Africa, that ensured the success of Rupert & Rothschild. In addition to their wine-making business, the two families wanted to get involved in the local community and promote the region's social development. A social integration project was soon set up with funding in the nearby village of Dennegeur, which is home to the winery's employees. The village now has a nursery, day care centre, after-school centre, clinic and sports facilities.
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