Château Tour des Combes
Producing limited-production, award-winning wines from France's most esteemed wine growing regions
Château Tour des Combes has a long history and dates back to 1849 when the Darribéhaude family first acquired the property from the owners of the much larger Château La Gaffelière. The property consists of almost thirty acres situated on hilly, limestone and silica soils that allow for great diversity in the finished wines. Like many other St. Émilion châteaux, the Château Tour des Combes' blend is primarily Merlot (80%) and the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Cabernet Franc (10%). It is located within the small historic town of Saint-Laurent-des-Combes and was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO who acknowledged it a “cultural landscape.”
Wines are unfiltered and vinified in traditional stainless steel vats and French oak barrels for 18 months and then bottled at the châteaux. Brigitte Darribéhaude assumed management of Château Tour des Combes in 1985 for Vignobles Darribéhaude and also serves as its winemaker. This wine has been classically made for decades and is an excellent example of St. Émilion wines.
Read more about our other two Bordeaux wineries in this exclusive French feature:
Château Pontet Reynaud
Le Fleuron de la Tessonnière
Located on France’s fertile southwestern coastline touching the Bay of Biscay and lying directly below the headwaters of the Gironde River, the Bordeaux wine region is France’s most important growing area. Bordeaux is a collection of appellations (Appellation D'origine Contrôlée), AOC, French wine law designating specific locations) where the adage “smallest is best” usually points out quality as well as establishing the price of particular wines.
Wine was introduced in Bordeaux sometime during the 1st Century by the Romans and has thrived in the area’s gravely, sandy stone (mostly limestone) soils since that time. The maritime influence of the Atlantic Ocean and a relatively mild climate provide almost ideal growing conditions for the vines that account for around 700 million bottles of Bordeaux produced each year.
When the Gironde River divides itself into the Garonne and the Dordogne, that fact plays an important role in determining the status of individual appellations. Most of the great châteaux of Bordeaux are located on the southern (left) bank of the Gironde River, above the City of Bordeaux. While providing statue and prestige to the region, these great châteaux account for only a minuscule amount of the area’s total production.
The Bordeaux region’s production is predominately red and utilizes the magnificent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varietals as well as a number of other grapes that are always classified as Bordeaux. Practically all of Bordeaux’s entire vast array of wine is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon being the principal varietal throughout the region. Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillion and Muscadelle are the predominant white grapes that are used in making dry (Graves) or sweet (Sauternes and Barsac) white wines.
There is a strong movement in recent times toward the use of natural methods (organic farming) throughout the entire region. While only a small amount of vineyard land can be considered organic, the idea of crop rotation, compost and biological pest control is attracting more and more French growers each year.
Brigitte Darrinbéhaude - Winemaker
As a multi-generation owner and winemaker, Brigitte Darribéhaude is an old school artisan who sticks to classical winemaking with a passion. A 1982 oenology graduate of Bordeaux University, her prior experience includes a stint at Dry Creek Vineyard in Sonoma County as well as several other wineries in France. Darribéhaude ages her wine in underground vats and with a third in used (2 to 3 year-old) French Oak.
Her wines are considered quite delicate with a focus on fruit that is showcased by excellent Merlot grapes from the Château Tour des Combes vineyards. Darribéhaude is also a proponent of responsible farming (growing grass in the middle of vineyard rows) that is a natural means of improving the vines. This St. Émilion is an excellent example of a classical wine from a definitive appellation.