Hervé Dubourdieu’s easy charm and modest disposition are complemented by his focus and ferocious perfectionism. He prefers to keep to himself, spending most of his time with his family in his modest, tasteful home, surrounded by his vineyards in the Sauternes and Graves appellations. Roûmieu-Lacoste, situated in Haut Barsac, originates from his mother’s side of the family, dating back to 1890. He also owns Château Graville-Lacoste and Château Ducasse, where he grows grapes for his Graves Blanc and Bordeaux Blanc, respectively. In the words of Dixon Brooke, “Hervé is as meticulous a person as I have encountered in France’s vineyards and wineries. Everything is kept in absolutely perfect condition, and the wines showcase the results of this care – impeccable.” Hervé is incredibly hard on himself. Despite the pedigree and complexity of the terroir and the quality of the wines, he has never been quite satisfied to rest on his laurels, always striving to outdo himself. This is most evident in his grape-sorting process for the Sauternes. Since botrytis is paramount to making great Sauternes, he employs the best harvesters available, paying them double the average wage to discern between the “noble rot,” necessary to concentrate the sugars for Sauternes, and deleterious rot. Hervé is so fastidious that he will get rid of a whole basket of fruit if a single grape with the harmful rot makes it in with healthy ones to be absolutely sure to avoid even the slightest contamination. Another thing that we love about Hervé is that he would rather entrust the selling to us than be away from his vines, so he lets us buy the lion’s share of his production. This is an important factor in keeping wine of this quality at so low a price.
Roûmieu-Lacoste is in the climat of Haut Barsac, an area famous (and in fact more renowned historically than the Sauternes appellation as a whole) for its particularly robust, powerfully styled moelleux with pronounced acidity. The vineyards are just across the road from First Growth Château Climens on a similar soil: calcareous clay on fissured rock, peppered with red iron, white limestone, and grey flint gravel. The Graville-Lacoste property produces a Graves Blanc, known primarily for its stony soil composition and fresh minerality. This wine and the Bordeaux Blanc of Château Ducasse are very different from others from their appellations: Hervé blends a high proportion of Sémillon (60%) and a splash of Muscadelle (5%) with Sauvignon Blanc (35%), creating a rich, full, aromatic mid-palate to complement the clean finish. These are the perfect go-to whites that pair well with anything from fish to poultry, picnic fare to Indian curries.