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The château La Croix de Gay : a family property at Pomerol for five centuries

« S’il peut y avoir une force dans une famille gardienne d’un domaine, c’est celle d’avoir conscience
de l’importance de ce qu’ils ont en charge et de consentir au sacrifice pour maintenir quelque chose qu’ils considèrent être
plus important qu’eux même, quelque chose qui les dépasse un peu. » Aubert de Villaine 1
(If the family in charge of a domain needs one strength, it is to be aware of the importance of what they are in charge
of and to accept the concessions to maintain something that they consider to be more important than themselves, something that exceeds them.)

A family at Pomerol since 1477

The vineyard of château La Croix de Gay is currently developed by the Lebreton family heir of a line of Pomerol winemakers that began their trade in 1772 but first arrived in the village in 1477.
The ancestors of the Raynaud-Lebreton family, Mathelin and Michel Barraud, received at this date, as a lease from the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, some lands at the center of the Pomerol's shelf. This tenement called the Barrauderie was the land of the current Pétrus, châteaux l’Evangile, la Conseillante, Gazin, Petit Village and Vieux Château Certan 2.

« Ce tènement que deux pauvres laboureurs prirent à bail en 1477 alors qu’il était à peu prés désert et qu’il eurent bien
de la peine à faire valoir, vu la terre peu fertile, en grande partie graveleuse, a perdu son nom qui perpétuait celui de ces courageux pionniers ;
il nous serait même inconnu sans les documents tirés des archives. Curieux contraste, c’est aujourd’hui la partie la plus riche
de la commune de Pomerol, celle qui contient les crus de vins les plus célèbres. » 3
(This tenement that two poor ploughter took in lease in 1477 while it was desert and with nothing to value on it, given its lack of fertility as largely gravelly, has lost its name which honoured these brave pioneers; it would be even unknown without documents from the archives.
Curious contrast, as it has become the richest part of the commune of Pomerol, which contains some of the most famous wines.)

A vintners family since 1772

While the 18th century corresponded to the advent of the quality of the vineyards in Saint Emilion and Pomerol, in 1772 the parish registers specify that Jean Brugnet, ancestor (sixth generation) to the current owners of the château La Croix Gay, was winemaker in Pomerol.
Therefore the current owners of the château La Croix Gay is probably one of the oldest winemaker family in Pomerol.

Birth certificate of Marie Brunet daughter of Jean Brugnet, ancestor (sixth generation) of the Lebreton Family

Château La Croix de Gay during the 19th and 20th century

During the 19th and 20th century the domaine was only transmitted through women. From generation to generation their husband have transmitted a winemaking knowledge as well as the knowledge of the terroirs of Pomerol proof of the regularity and quality of the wines of the domaine.

They were :

  • Barthélemy Larroucaud (Mayor of Pomerol from 1871 to 1874 and from 1876 to 1883),
  • Jean Angle (founding member of the wine-growing Union of Pomerol, winemaker for the château Gazin (Mr Quenedey), Rouget (Mr Cabanes), Certan (Demoiselles de May) and Father Antoine Faure, parish priest of Pomerol from 1861 to 1905),
  • Jean Marie Barraud (Mayor of Pomerol from 1912-1919, first assistant secretary and founding member of the wine-growing Union of Pomerol).

Jean Angle especially developed the property, registering "Château La Croix de Gay" trademark at the very beginning of the 20th century, and only selling is wine at the same price than médoc classified Grands Crus (classification of 1855).

Trademark registration of « Château La Croix de Gay » in 1900Marguerite et Jean-Marie Barraud during the harvest in 1940

The second part of the 20th century

Noel Raynaud (1923-1997) et Geneviève Ardurat-Raynaud (1925-2009)

The quality of the château La Croix de Gay after the second world war is in large part due to Noël Raynaud.  Perfectionist and with his willingness to give the best to his wine; succeeding "de façon surprenante, grâce à des vinifications perfectionnées, les millésimes moyens » 4 (surprisinly, with sophisticated vinifications, off vintages); this obsessively hard worker won, during the 1970s, numerous gold and silver medals at the concours général agricole de Paris.
In 1982, château La Croix de Gay was admitted to the prestigious Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux.
Superb reward for Noel Raynaud who always think his property as a symbol of Pomerol and would not have denied some comments to his wine :

« … la grande tenue des vins de ce cru qui sont une véritable liqueur ferrugineuse. » Féret et Cocks 1929 5
(…high quality of this wines that are real iron liquor.)

« …produce one of the lightest, most delicately stated of all Pomerols. » Andrew Jefford 6

However, in 1997, after 51 harvest (1947-1997) and a life devoted to his property and the Pomerol appellation (active member of the Union and a founding member of the brotherhood of the Hospitallers of Pomerol (1968)), Noël Raynaud permanently rejoined the land he loved so much.
His wife Geneviève Raynaud then entrusted to their daughter Chantal Lebreton the burden of the operation of the château la Croix de Gay. She was joined in this task for the 2009 and 2010 harvests by her brother Alain Raynaud.

Noel RaynaudGeneviève Raynaud in hospitallers of Pomerol dress

The 21st century

After their mum passed away, brother and sister took different paths. Alain sold the shares he had of the property; while Chantal, supported by her husband and her children, decided to follow the family tradition.
Refocused on the earth of our vineyard, with a new cellar on our historic hamlet, surrounded with a team which each year support us in expressing the terroir and continuity of winemaking technics, the story of our winemaker family with Pomerol continues.

Chantal LebretonWest façades of chateau La Croix de GayBarrel storehouse at chateau La Croix de Gay

  1. Aubert de Villaine co-gérant du Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Thomas Bravo-Maza, « Quatre saisons à la Romanée Conti », France Télévisions et Compagnie des phares et balises, 2011.
  2. Arch de la Haute-Garonne, fonds de Malte, H. Commanderie de Bordeaux : Reconnaissance en parchemin pour Poumeyrol, de l’année 1746, reg. 982, Decazes, notaire
  3. Garde J. A. Société historique et archéologique de Libourne. Histoire de Pomerol. Libourne : Imprimerie libournaise, 1946. p 58.
  4. Bettane et Desseauve. Le Classement 99 des vins et domaines de France. Editions de La Revue du vin de France, 1998. p 143.
  5. Cocks Ch et Feret Ed. Bordeaux et ses vins. 11me édition. Bordeaux : Féret et fils éditeurs, 1929. p 740.
  6. Jefford A. The new France. A complete guide to contemporary french wine. Mitchell Beazley, 2002. p 183.

Galerie photos

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