The Barton name has been associated with the Medoc, and Saint Julien in particular, since 1821 when the Hugh Barton purchased Château Langoa. This was closely followed by the purchase of Château Leoville Barton in 1826 when the neighbouring Leoville estate was divided into 3 creating Chateau Leoville Barton, Château Leoville Poyferre and Château Leoville Las Cazes. All 3 properties were made second growths in the classification that came into place a few years later in 1855.
Arriving in 1725, Thomas, Hugh’s grandfather, was the first Barton to come to Bordeaux from his native Ireland. He was soon seduced by the wine industry making his fortune and becoming known as French Tom, creating the négociant House Barton et Guestier. The current owner, Anthony Barton, came to France in 1951 to work at Barton and Guestier and took over the family estate from his uncle in 1983 making the beautiful château his home in 1986. Lilian Barton Sartorius has worked with her father, Anthony, since 1978 first in their merchant business “Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton,” and she now runs the two properties and the negociant company with him.
Saint Julien is a small appellation for the Médoc representing only 5% of the surface area. Often considered to be the most homogenous of all the Medoc appellations due to its size with only 24 producers of which 11 are classified growths covering 87% of the appellation. Perched on two gravel outcrops, Leoville to the north and Beychevelle to the South, this narrow band of Garonnaise gravel is the perfect terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon which represents 63% of the appellation, giving wines that marry the elegance of Margaux with the power of Pauillac.
There are now 51ha of vineyards at Château Léoville-Barton and around 17ha at Langoa Barton, lying next to each other, close to the Gironde, with a typical St Julien terroir of gravelly soils over deeper clay. The Cabernet-dominated wines of both properties are made in the cellars of Langoa built alongside the Chateau in 1757.
As far as appellations go, the Bartons obviously think small is beautiful as Lilian and her husband Michel Sartorius invested in Moulis in 2011 buying Chateau Mauvesin Barton. Moulis, located to the west of the Médoc, halfway between Margaux and Saint Julien, is even smaller than Saint Julien (4% of the Medoc). There are no classified growths in this appellation but Cru Bourgeois account for more than 2/3 of production of these fleshy, delicate wines. The cooler soils of mainly Pyrenean gravel, with a clay-limestone sub-soil, explain the predominance of the Merlot variety, well suited to this type of soil. The Barton’s expertise in Cabernet Sauvignon will not be lost here as on the 51 hectares of vines, (42 in Moulis appellation and 9 in Haut Médoc appellation) the soil is partly clay and limestone, perfect for Merlot, and a partly fine gravel and sand allowing for an exceptional maturity of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Château Mauvesin is also an historic property, Marquis Lodoïs Leblanc built the current chateau in 1853, but vines and a chateau have been recorded here since 1457. Since the purchase, the family have planted 6 hectares of vines and uprooted one older plot. They have also completely renovated the cellar and winery; the old vat room has been restored into a spacious cellar allowing for plot by plot vinification and a new tasting room, decorated in stone and oak has a large window overlooking the barrel cellar.
Historical roots are important but the Bartons are looking to the future; Lilian and Michel’s daughter Melanie is a qualified oenologist, the first in the Barton Family! She joined the company in 2013 and with her brother Damien are the eighth generation of the Barton family to put their mark on the Medoc with Chateau Mauvesin Barton.