At the origins

The LIBERAL family had run the estate since the early XVIII th century. Then as wine brokers from father to son, they would sell most of the crops to the Netherlands and Belgium. Thanks to their name being next to that of the place, they were often invited to sit at the round tables of the political parties by the same name all over the world.

 As time passed, those fine connoisseurs of wine collected the best soils of the Pauillac area. That is why half of the vineyard of this 1855 fifth classified growth is next to Château Latour and the other half is behind Château Pichon Baron, located on the higher part of the place called « Bages », a large plateau south of Pauillac.

A beautiful vineyard

This beautiful vineyard found a new youth in 1960 when the Cruse family, the owner at the time of Château Pontet-Canet - also a fifth classified growth - purchased the estate and launched a vast program of replanting the vines.


 But it is not until the arrival of the Villars-Merlaut family in 1982 that Château Hau-Bages Liberal came back into its former splendor. Jacques Merlaut and his family already owned Château Chasse Spleen and château La Gurgue.


 At the demise of her parents, Claire Villars took over and since 2000 -  when the various estates were shared among the members of the family - she has fully been in charge of the estate as well as Château Ferrière and Château La Gurgue.

1855 classification

From the beginning of the 19th century, the wine brokers had established a classification of great wines according to their reputation, fame and price.

But it is on April 18th, 1855 at the request of Emperor Napoléon III and with the Paris world Fair in mind, that the latest classification was published. The list includes 61 wines, all coming from the Medoc area except Château Haut-Brion, produced in the Graves appellation. The 61 wineries were classified in 5 levels.

Today, the 1855 classification has indeed a historic but also a real value because the wines from these classified properties are exceptional and their terroirs are the greatest in the region.

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Though she was born into a wine growers' family, Claire Villars Lurton did not intend to manage a property. She lived in Paris where she had a master's degree in chemistry and physics. She was preparing a thesis in physics dealing with the preservation of old books at the CNRS (NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH) when her parents died in an accident in 1992. She decided to get actively involved in the management of the family properties. She gave up her studies and joined her grandfather Jacques Merlaut to continue the work of her mother Bernadette Villars Merlaut.

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With flawless energy and determination, Claire took control of Château Chasse-Spleen which she has maintained at the top of the hierarchy of the Cru Bourgeois classification.

At the same time, Claire studied vine growing and oenology at the University of Bordeaux with outstanding professors such as Yves Glories and Denis Dubourdieu. However, her main tutor was her grandfather, Jacques Merlaut. He taught her how to discipline her energy and sort out what is essential.

In 1994 she married with Gonzague Lurton, the owner of Château Durfort-Vivens, a 2nd Classified Growth in Margaux. Together, they purchased Château Domeyne, in Saint-Estèphe in 2006 and the Trinité Estate vineyard in 2012. This estate Located in the North of California, the property produces one of the greatest wines of Sonoma County named : Acaibo.

Since 2000, the year when the family estates were shared, Claire has been at 100% involved in the management of the properties that have belonged to her. Through her work, Château La Gurge has improved its elegance, Château Ferrière has found a new youth allying power and finesse. As for Château Haut-Bages Libéral, the wine completed its powerful Pauillac style with a touch of feminine elegance.

Beyond the technical improvements brought years after years to each of the properties, Claire's main achievement has been to make out the best of the great terroir under her care. According to Claire, biodynamic farming is the key of the success.

The team