Lurton family giving New World wines 'more roots and identity'

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New World wines ‘need to find more roots and identity’, says a member of the Lurton family, at the same time as his cousin expands his operation to California.


Speaking to Harpers at yesterday’s Lurton du Vin tasting in London’s RAC Club, Jacques Lurton, who operates La Martinette in Bordeaux as well as the Islander Estate in Kangaroo Island, South Australia, said New World wine has to develop more complexity.


Jacques said that the Old World was now taking on a strong position again, adding that the “New World is trying to copy the Old World now”. “I hope there’s a capacity for the New World to find more roots and identity, and for their wines to be able to compete with the older world.”


“Not every estate has been there for centuries” in the Old World, he said, while many New World ones are already quite old. But, New World estates had to work harder to create complexity and to “sophisticate themselves”. “They need groups of people defending their regions and styles. We don’t want Australia to just be one country,” he argued, saying it was vital to focus on areas like McLaren Vale and others. He said global regions including the Yarra, Colchagua and Napa “need leadership”.


The advantages of working in Australia are people’s honesty and openness compared to the more reserved French culture, said Jacques. But they could work harder on “making things a bit more complex”, he said.


“The UK is the hardest market in the world,” believes Jacques. He said he found it very difficult to “crack” with high-priced Australian wine. “There are many opportunities to sell elsewhere but it would be nice to get a foot in this market.”


But he admitted never having chosen the easy option of plumping for well-known wines or estates. “I’ve always started something out of nowhere,” he added.


Meanwhile, Gonzague Lurton, who runs Château Durfort-Vivens, told Harpers he and wife Claire had just picked their first vintage from their newly-acquired Sonoma estate. The pair have not yet found a name for the vineyard, but are looking to start blending around the end of December.


“We have been very lucky. One of our neighbours is Vérité of the Kendall Jackson group, which helped us a lot.”


While this represents Gonzague’s first overseas venture, he has been seeking advice from some of his more widely-travelled cousins, including Jacques, who already consults for him in France.


“We’re focusing on Bordeaux varieties. Everything else is different so we wanted to have something familiar. It’s very exciting to start finding our way there, and we have a clear idea what we want to achieve.”


Meanwhile François Lurton, who operates six vineyards in France, Argentina, Chile and Spain, said he is not considering expanding his global empire further, given that he likes to take such a hands-on role with each property.

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