“Due to its exceptional geographical location, the unique wine-growing site and its history, Château d’Aussières is a place of wild, natural beauty that emanates tremendous power”. These words of Baron Eric explain why he fell in love with Aussières and what led Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) to restore and revitalize one of the oldest and most beautiful wine-making properties in the Narbonne region.
Château d’Aussières has made wine since the Roman era, a period when the great properties of the “Roman Province of Narbonne” were recorded in the land registry and became the main wine suppliers to Rome. In the year 92, the Edict of the Emperor Domitius put a halt to this by requiring the massive uprooting of vineyards in order to protect Roman production. The prosperity of the Languedoc’s wine-growing activity disappeared with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the ensuing battles over the territory between the Visigoths, Franks and Arabs.
In the Middle Ages, the Church saved the vineyard and for nearly eight hundred years, Aussières belonged to various abbeys. In 1065, it belonged to Mont Laures Abbey, which was bought by Fontfroide Abbey in 1211. The presence of the vines was already stipulated in the purchasing act of 1065. Up until the French Revolution, Aussières was part of Fontfroide, in the role of a Cistercian “granary”, a farm supplying the Abbey.
In 1790, when all the Church’s holdings were confiscated, Aussières was bought at auction by Count Daru, Minister and Administrator of the Private Estates of Napoleon Bonaparte. Wine making was re-established with the planting of nearly 80 hectares of vines. At the end of the 19th century, the vineyard at Aussières was enlarged to meet the needs of the urban populations of Northern Europe and to compensate for the drop in production from other vineyards in France – Bordeaux in particular – affected by the phylloxera crisis. The Languedoc itself suffered from phylloxera around 1880, but the epidemic was quickly controlled and the vineyard continued to grow. In the 1920s and 1930s, Château d’Aussières’ vineyard covered 270 ha, and employed 120 people who lived on the estate, which had then grown into a real wine-making village, with its own craftsmen and its own school.
From the 1950s, Aussières was swept up in the decline of the Languedoc as a credible wine producing region, and this led to the abandonment of the vineyard and the departure of wine-growers. Fortunately, today, the Languedoc area has turned a new page and is gradually moving toward the production of high quality wines: Aussières is an excellent example.
Acquired in 1999 by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), the 550 hectare estate has undergone a vast rehabilitation programme. 167 hectares of vines have been replanted with carefully selected traditional Languedoc grape varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan, complemented by Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay. The estate buildings were restored at the same time and a new winery installed in the old cellars, in the heart of the vineyard.
The mature vines and substantial efforts to develop quality have enabled the serenity befitting a former abbey to be restored. The consistency and remarkable potential of the wines produced since 2005 have already positioned Aussières as one of the front runners in the revival of the Languedoc.