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Famed In Bordeaux, Gonzague And Claire Lurton Aim To Make Name In Sonoma

May 15, 2017

Gonzague and Claire Lurton are very well-known figures in Bordeaux. They come from two of the region’s most esteemed families—the Lurtons and the Merlauts, respectively—and have each led their family’s business for more than 20 years. The couple currently owns a host of properties in Bordeaux and around the world. Five years ago, they embarked on a new adventure, in another of the world’s esteemed wine regions: Sonoma County.

In 2012, the Lurtons founded Trinité Estate in the Chalk Hill district, just east of Healdsburg. The area appealed to them, Gonzague Lurton told SND, because “we found that we could grow Bordeaux-variety grapes there, with a nice balance of freshness and fruit.” They planted 24 acres of vines, the majority of which were Cabernet Sauvignon. The remainder are mostly Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Lurton says Sonoma wine production has two distinct advantages over Bordeaux: climate and the irrigation system. “In Sonoma, you’re not as reliant on the weather,” he says. “In terms of climate, the difference in temperature between day and night (in Sonoma) gives us fantastic concentration of fruit. Additionally, we have much more ability to manage the irrigation process.”

The Lurtons’ first Sonoma wine—Trinité Estate 2012 Sonoma County Acaibo—was introduced to the market in 2015. Retailing for around $75 a 750-ml., the 2012 Acaibo featured a blend of 53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc. Roughly 800 cases of the wine were sold, almost evenly divided between the domestic and export markets.

“We’ve actually found it easier to sell overseas than in the U.S., which really surprised us,” says Lurton, who adds that several Asian markets are key destinations, as are Germany and the U.K. “Because of our reputation in Bordeaux, people know us, which opens doors. But we didn’t realize how competitive the three-tier system was for smaller companies. We’ve decided to work with small to mid-size distributors who like our story.” Acaibo’s distribution was initially focused on California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Colorado, with several additional markets coming on line this year.

Acaibo’s 2013 vintage (56% Cabernet Sauvignon/34% Merlot/10% Cabernet Franc) was launched late last year. The Lurtons are expecting to sell around 800 cases in the U.S. and 600 abroad.

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