Damase Milhade (1892-1975) was the founder of the Milhade company. It all began in 1938, when he left his native Corrèze to create a wine trade in Galgon (southwest France). He then purchased Château Recougne in the Bordeaux Supérieur appellation, where he lived out the rest of his days with his wife Marie, a school teacher in Galgon. They had one son, Jean Milhade.
Jean Milhade (1925-2003) grew up at Château Recougne, surrounded by the mysteries of wine and vine. When he became a chemical engineer, and later an oenologist, he began to understand these mysteries and developed a passion for vine-growing. At the same time, he continued to acquire estates in different appellations. In 1961, he was so charmed by the quality of the Château Lyonnat terroir that he and his father decided to purchase it. He dedicated his life to restructuring the vineyard and developing the winemaking facilities.
Gérard Milhade was born in 1957 and spent all his childhood amidst the vines of Château Recougne. Brigitte was born the same year and grew up in Paris. They met in the École Supérieure de Commerce in Bordeaux and married in 1980, shortly after graduating. Gérard took the reins of the family négociant firm and Brigitte discovered her passion for wine. In July 2005, after the death of his father Jean Milhade, Gérard became the sole owner of Château Lyonnat while continuing to manage the firm. His wife, Brigitte, took over the running of the estate. With a view to improving the quality of the wine, she consulted Hubert de Bouard, the owner of Château Angelus, a Saint-Émilion premier Grand Cru Classé, for advice on winemaking.
Nowadays, the new generation has begun to contribute to the family business. Cécilia, Brigitte and Gérard’s first daughter, joined the family négociant firm in 2008. And in 2014, Charlotte, an agricultural engineer and oenologist, returned to the region with her husband to join in running the family estates.
he history of Lyonnat began in 1137, when the Cistercian order founded the Abbey of Faize. The abbey played an important role in developing the Libourne wine region, particularly since its wines were consumed at the British royal court. The cross overlooking the estate’s most beautiful slopes stands as a testimony to the role of the abbey in the creation of Lyonnat.
At the time, the property was known as Léonat, from the Latin « Leo », Lion, and « Nat », birth. Over the years, the name changed to « Lionat » and then to « Lyonnat ».
Château Lyonnat still belonged to the abbey in 1615 and the Drivet family lived there as tenant farmers. The estate extended over more than 180 hectares, which explains the immense size of the cellars and outhouses. The greater part of the wine production was destined for the Vatican.
Abbot Montesquieu died in 1720 and, in accordance with his will, the Lyonnat estate went to the Drivet family. The family owned the estate for many generations, until it was purchased by the Baudou family, and in 1961, Damase and Jean Milhade acquired Château Lyonnat along with its estate.
The word « Château » was not used for Bordeaux wines until the 19th century, when it replaced the word « Cru ». In the case of Château Lyonnat, the imposing central building was constructed in the 19th century to reflect this new notion of Château, as were many Châteaux in the Médoc appellation.
The Milhade family are the current owners of the Lyonnat estate and still live in the Château today.
With a single uninterrupted expanse of 50 hectares, Château Lyonnat is the largest estate in the Lussac Saint Émilion appellation.
Located on the highest point in Lussac Saint Émilion, it possesses a unique treasure in the form of a vast 20-hectare stretch of limestone soil facing south, south-east, very similar to the Saint-Émilion plateau. The other parts of the estate are distributed over classic, predominantly clayey-limestone and silty soils.
The grape varieties have been reorganised progressively with due regard for the very cold character of the soils: "We always harvest this late sector a fortnight after Pomerol", according to Brigitte Milhade. For this reason, Merlot currently reigns supreme with 90% of the vines, while Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc have been reduced to 10%.
This consideration naturally led to other reflections concerning cultivation techniques that promote an optimal expression of the wines: restricting grass coverage, working the soil under the row and in depth, limiting yields, and increasing density per hectare, figure among the quality-enhancing initiatives of the estate.
When Gérard and Brigitte Milhade took the reins of the estate in 2005, they decided to fine-tune the blend for a rounder, more charming wine. "We realised we had a treasure in our hands, with a magnificent terroir that we had to reveal".
The Château Lyonnat cellars did not succumb to the "stainless steel craze": on the contrary, we chose to retain all the concrete fermentation vats. "Today we have 72 vats in our cellar, with a great variety of volumes ranging from 32 to 338 hl. As soon as each vat was built, our grandfather assigned it to a plot. Now with the new distribution of the vineyard, this tank system gives us great flexibility for winemaking: it's an enormous advantage for optimizing our plot selections and for optimal maturing of our blends", comments Charlotte Généré Milhade.
Thanks to the team, and particularly our mother-daughter duo, Brigitte and Charlotte Milhade, Château Lyonnat never ceases to work its charm, vintage after vintage. Its wines are based on a very Saint-Émilion style: concentrated wines with good tannic structure, endowed with a uniquely charming elegance.
The Classique blend, which contains up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, is made from 32 hectares located on the slopes. It is aged in oak barrels, one third of them new.
A clear garnet-red colour and very aromatic bouquet expressing blackberry, blackcurrant, raspberry and spicy notes, already promise elegant pleasure.
Its great maturity is complemented by very beautiful fine and silky tannins and a plenteous freshness.
The palate follows through into a impressively long aftertaste, with plenty of volume.
Our prestigious "Emotion" blend is 100% Merlot, from the old vines grown on the limestone plateau.
After a drastic selection at the vine and in the cellar, the malolactic fermentation takes place in new barrels and the wine is aged in barrels for 18 months.
A dense garnet-red colour with violet highlights, the Emotion blend is characterised by intense bouquet of black fruit, spices, along with roasted overtones, and vanilla and humus notes. It is concentrated on the palate, yet powerful and perfectly balanced. The velvety structure follows through to a long-lasting finish, a testimony to its great capacity for ageing.
La Rose Perruchon is our second wine. It comes from young vines and also benefits from very selective sorting.
A purple colour with garnet-red highlights, the initial impression on the nose is fruity and exuberant. Raspberry, cherry, blackberry, elderberry, all come together to offer a fresh and elegant wine.
Smooth on the palate, with fine velvety tannins, expressing a seductive finesse, perfect balance and a deliciously rounded finish..
APRIL 2019Primeur 2018 tasting