At Montlabert, precision is part of our philosophy. Along with the vines we nurture an eye for detail, seen in the meticulous care we take with every aspect of our work.
And we positively encourage questioning – it strengthens the courage of our convictions, enabling us to move confidently towards the future.
It’s said that “best is the enemy of good” - but is ‘good’ good enough to fulfil our aspirations ?
The origins of Montlabert are inextricably linked with the story of the Saint Emilion vineyards, a story UNESCO has taken to heart - by including the entire appellation area in its list of World Heritage sites.
This is the first vineyard landscape to be recognised by UNESCO; high praise indeed for the generations of winegrowers who shaped the terroir, and for those working to protect it today. Château Montlabert is proud to be part of the story.
Château Montlabert lies on the Route de Libourne, and shares the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation with a number of its prestigious neighbours: Cheval Blanc, Clos des Jacobins and Château Figeac are just a stone’s throw away.
They share not just physical proximity, but also the same exacting standards, and of course the same drive towards excellence.
Château Montlabert is an associate of the Jurade de Saint Emilion, an ancient brotherhood of wine, where it has been represented by Sophie Castel (3rd generation of the Castel family) since September 2016.
Membership of the Jurade highlights Montlabert’s commitment to promoting its vineyards, and confirms its position as one of the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation’s most prestigious properties.
Quality ? Or quantity ? It’s a perpetual conflict. But Montlabert has made its choice.
Green harvesting removes a portion of the crop, making way for the remaining grapes to thrive - a small sacrifice in the quest for the Golden Mean.
Montlabert has only 13 hectares of vines - planted as a single unit - making vineyard management an exercise in precision.
The approach is plot-specific, the techniques modern; they include soil management, pruning and harvesting. Every activity is meticulously managed. Just like an English country garden !
Cover crops are grown year-round at Montlabert as a way to protect the remarkable soils. They may be cereals, legumes or cruciferous crops; all are specifically chosen to suit each particular plot.
The focus is on maintaining a symbiosis between the vines and the surrounding flora: good ground management promotes natural balance.
Precision tillage involves adopting techniques to suit the terroir, and adapting to the prevailing climate. Ploughing at Montlabert takes all this into account, and uses not the conventional four ploughing methods, but eight.
Doubling the number of times the soil is turned helps to loosen it, improving penetration by air, water and rain, and is a natural way of tackling weed growth without the use of chemicals.
Montlabert’s attention to detail knows no bounds - and neither do its aspirations. By working with 5 cooperage companies each offering three toast levels, the château has 15 possible choices for barrel-ageing its wines.
And with Montlabert’s plot-by-plot approach informing every choice, each vineyard parcel can decide on its own unique combination.
Before becoming a home-from-home for visitors to Montlabert, the hunting lodge housed a very different type of guest. When the renovations started, workers found that a swarm of bees had taken up residence!
They are long gone now, but as a parting gift left over 40 kilos of acacia honey - a symbol of the sweetness that life at Montlabert can bring.
Behind every success, there’s a certain amount of daring. We dare to challenge ourselves in order to progress - and then we dare to be proud of our achievements…
By being attentive even to the smallest details, Montlabert has turned its potential into reality. By daring to be bold - but never careless - the Château has revealed its true colours, and made an unforgettable impression. The Montlabert style cannot be explained. It can only be asserted - and has the power to amaze.
And here, surrounded by its illustrious neighbours, Montlabert can confidently go beyond its comfort zone, and dare to be different.
Originally a magnificent cut-stone manor house dating back to the 18th century, Château Montlabert is an authentic charterhouse built in the neo-classical style.
The grounds feature centuries-old trees and preserve the region’s unique biodiversity: a striking combination of rural simplicity and aristocratic elegance.
The 6 bedrooms on the first floor of the manor house are available to accommodate guests and ambassadors. The Castel Family, along with their top-class hospitality team, are always pleased to welcome visitors to this delightful venue. And no one ever wants to leave !
Montlabert is part of the Castel Estates and Vineyards family; meanwhile, another family story is blossoming within its walls - that of Ludovic and Maxime Hérault, the château's manager and cellar master. Ludovic and Maxime work together on a daily basis - and their bond is reflected in the wines they make. They are an asset to Montlabert, in perfect keeping with the family values that shape Castel.
Since 2009, Château Montlabert has been making major improvements to its soil tillage techniques, both to improve water management and to achieve better results from the clay soils. The investment has been significant, but has made it possible to harness the potential of this outstanding vineyard.
Over the last few years, planting density has been considerably improved, with plantings of 8,500 vines per hectare. 80% of the vineyard is planted to Merlot and 20% to Cabernet Franc. Soils comprise deep sands and sandy gravel on clay subsoil.
Chateau Montlabert has been Terra Vitis accredited since 2011, and grapes are grown according to the principles of responsible agriculture. 40% of Montlabert’s vineyard parcels grow volunteer cereal crops, giving better quality fruit and helping to safeguard people and the environment.
Philippe fell head over heels for Montlabert - and acquired the property in 2008, fully intending to make it the jewel in the crown of the Castel family portfolio. He is the estate’s metronome, setting the pace for the strategic actions needed to reveal the property’s extraordinary potential.
Ludovic has managed the estate since 2009, devoting his time and attention to the successful development of vine and wine. He is passionate about his work, and has been named French Pruning Champion; he now uses his talents exclusively for Château Montlabert.
Patrick is Castel Estates and Vineyards’ Technical Director, and oversees the collaboration between the Château’s manager and its winemaking consultant. He is both rigorous and meticulous in his approach, ensuring the quality and consistency of Montlabert wines.
Consultant Hubert de Boüard advises on winemaking operations at Montlabert all year round. He specialises in the Cabernet Franc grape, which he showcases with particular skill at Château Angelus. Since the 2010 vintage he has been sharing his vast knowledge of this elegant varietal here at Montlabert.
Château Montlabert, the property’s first wine, needs a little patience...
This is a wine made for laying down, with a beautifully dense structure, powerful flavours and excellent length. This Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend is aged for 14 months in French oak barrels and expresses the full elegance and personality of these two famous varietals.
Bâtonnage (lees stirring) leads the wine to take on an elegant edge of oak, along with volume and body.
La Croix Montlabert is the Chateau’s second wine: a little indulgence for every day, bursting with intense, fruity flavours.
This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc is aged for 14 months in French oak barrels; its molten tannins give it a feeling of smooth freshness.
Château Montlabert is a jewel in the crown of Castel Estates and Vineyards, Castel’s collection of family properties across the regions of Bordeaux, Languedoc, Provence and the Loire. The Château is a showcase for precision viticulture.
CASTEL are winegrowers, négociants and retailers, known and respected throughout the world. They represent people, terroirs and an audacious attitude, working for the benefit of wine and wine lovers everywhere.
Caring for the terroir, the vintage and the grape: Château Montlabert is an integral part of Castel Estates and Vineyards’ strategy to safeguard our heritage - a heritage to which we are committed, for which we work, and which we aspire to share.
Castel Estates and Vineyards’ unique philosophy is to showcase terroir and invest in the skills and technology needed to keep every property on a quest for excellence. Chefs and sommeliers are a vital part of the process, as they aspire to express the personality of every wine and every vintage to its best advantage.