Claire Villars Lurton
This fifth growth property was once owned by the Cruse family, who vinified the wine at another of its Pauillac properties, Pontet-Canet, but the estate took action for the better when it was bought in 1983 by Jacques Merlaut. Since 1999, it has been owned and run by his granddaughter Claire Villars Lurton - who also runs Chateau Ferrière and Chateau La Gurgue in Margaux - and she made important renovations in the early 2000s.
The estate's vineyards are superbly sited: half of the 30 hectares of vines are at the height of the Bages plateau (hence the property's name, with Libéral a nod to the family that owned it in the early 1800s) and the other half are adjacent to Latour. This is a serious and underrated Pauillac: whilst not in the top flight, it is a wine of real quality, dominated by the power and freshness of cabernet sauvignon, and reasonably priced.
The wine is a 70/30 split between cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and spends 18 months in oak, up to half of which is new. It can be enjoyed for between 8 and 20 years after the vintage.