The first vineyards of Bordeaux were planted south of the city in the Graves region and flourished in the Middle Ages, first with the help of religious communities and then through trade with England and Northern Europe . The long history of Château Carbonnieux is closely connected to that of the city, experiencing the same crises, the same hours of glory and today, like a challenge to time both seem to be at a stage of rejuvenation .

The Origins ( 1234 – 1519 )

The name Carbonnieux is said to come from a family called "Carbonius" or Carbonnieu who cleared and cultivated land near Léognan at the beginning of the 13th century. The name Ramon Carbonnieu, the owner of vines at Léognan in 1234, is indeed mentioned in the archives of Bordeaux.
The medieval origins of the estate were confirmed by a deed of exchange dated April 2, 1292 signed by two monks from the powerful Sainte-Croix abbey in Bordeaux.
In 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry II and so Aquitaine became part of the kingdom of England and was called Guyenne. Trade flourished, wine sales multiplied and Bordeaux prospered until the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). After this long troubled period which resulted in shortages, ruined harvests and epidemics, the Benedictine monks were forced to give up their Carbonnieux vineyard.

The Ferron Dynasty (1519-1740)

In 1519 after the difficulties of the Hundred Years War, the Benedictine monks from Sainte Croix sold the Carbonnieux land to Jean de Ferron.
Jean de Ferron who came from a powerful Bordeaux bourgeois family, that already owned vines, had recently been ennobled and to glorify his rank had to own a great vineyard in the Graves region.
As new Lord of Carbonnieux, he started a land purchase and consolidation policy which continued under his successors for two and a half centuries.
Formally a fortified farm, the Ferron noble house gradually became the great domain that it is today with its inner courtyard, high towers, outhouses, cropland and great vineyard.
During the reign of Louis XIV, after several Ferron generations, Carbonnieux reached its first peak.

The Monks from the Sainte-Croix Abbey ( 1740 – 1791 )

Great winemakers...

Although raised to the status of “Lords of Carbonnieux” the Ferron family ran into debt and sold the estate to the monks of the Sainte-Croix abbey in Bordeaux. After two and a half centuries in the Ferron family, a new era began for Carbonnieux. Initially purchased to be ‘a mother earth’ for the abbey, the Carbonnieux estate soon became the major investment of the Benedictine monks who did not hesitate to borrow huge amounts of money to take their Carbonnieux growth to the very top of white Graves wine ranking.
Don Galléas was one of the first to blend varieties and to bottle wine which made it easier for it to be transported and kept for longer before being drunk. His vinification methods and his cellars were among the most modern in the region.
In the ranking of the Guyenne Intendance , published in 1776, the white wines of the “Aux Bénédictins de Carbonnieux” were very much appreciated. Although the “premier cru de Pontac”(Haut-Brion) was the reference for red wines at the time, Carbonnieux by far led the ranking of white wines from Guyenne.

...and also exporters

Thanks to the talents and entrepreneurship of the Benedictine monks from the Sainte-Croix abbey for half a century , the domain flourished and the famous bottle with the Saint Jacques shell attained worldwide renown, from Constantinople to the United States.
In fact, during the 18th century when times were particularly good for the port of Bordeaux, the monks managed to introduce the clear white wines of Carbonnieux, with their pale colour into the palace of the Ottoman Sultan and called them “the mineral water of Carbonnieux”.
The trick worked because one of his favourites was a woman from Bordeaux who had been captured by pirates and given to the Prince of the harem. The legend even goes so far as to say that the Prince asked “why do the French make wine when they have such delicious mineral water ?”

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, the future president of the United States, a gastronome and great wine lover went on a grand tour of France to discover its vineyards. In Bordeaux he selected a few famous estates and his diary shows that he came to Carbonnieux to taste the “Wine of the Odalisques” as it was then called in the United States. Thomas Jefferson also left his mark by planting an American pecan tree in the Château park. This tree, over two centuries old, still takes pride of place in the inner courtyard today.

From the Bouchereau family to the 20th century ( 1791 - 1956 )

During the French Revolution (1789) the state confiscated all clerical property
In January 1791, after a fierce auction, Carbonnieux was sold as a “national property” to Elie de Bouchereau for 366,000 livres ,which was 170,00 livres above its estimated worth. Back from the Indies, the Bouchereau family settled at Château Carbonnieux for 87 years. Prior to the phylloxera attack of 1871, the estate comprised 137 hectares, half of which were planted in noble Bordeaux grape varieties, painstakingly selected thanks to the ampelographic research carried out by the Bouchereau brothers.
Between 1828 and 1871, Henry-Xavier Bouchereau built up at Carbonnieux a unique collection of French and European grape varieties that included up to 1,242 different specimens. Like most landowners during the “disease crisis”, the Bouchereau family had to sell their estate in 1878.
At the dawn of the 20th century and up to 1956, the estate changed hands many times before the Perrin family eventually took it over.

A New Peak for Carbonnieux ( 1956 to the present day )

After the suffering of two World Wars, Bordeaux viticulture had reached its lowest ebb. There was a terrible frost in the winter of 1956 and it was in this same year that Marc Perrin who had bought the estate, set to work on the renovation of the château and its vineyard. He first started a significant replanting campaign that took the estate to 45 hectares in 1970 then to 70 hectares in 1980, to reach almost 95 hectares today. His son, Antony, built a new fermentation cellar and modernized the cellars to adapt to new vinification methods. He continued the restoration of the château and the vineyards and focused on increasing the renown of Carbonnieux and Bordeaux wines throughout the world. He was president of the “Union of Grands Crus de Bordeaux”, president of the “Crus Classés de Graves” as well as being one of the forerunners of the Pessac-Léognan appellation, created in 1987.
He also purchased new estates in the appellation: Château Le Sartre and Bois Martin which today belong to his sister.
Over the years he passed on the family winemaking heritage and his skills to his children Eric, Christine and Philibert Perrin. Today the torch has been passed on to them and once again the estate has reached a peak.