Cover The Chartreuse de Siran, a typical building of the region dating back to the 18th century

Now on its sixth generation of devoted custodianship from the Miailhe family, Château Siran proves that the grape never falls too far from the vine

Situated in Margaux, an appellation in the famed Bordeaux region, is Château Siran: a sprawling vineyard spanning 25 hectares, managed by the same family since 1859. Appointed the estate’s successor in 2007, Édouard Miailhe—along with his wife Sevrine and their children—left the Philippines to take the reins. Now the sixth generation in his family to do so, Miailhe brazenly leads the winery into the future, hoping his children will one day follow suit.

“For more than 160 years, my family has been striving to produce a wine of pleasure, a wine for sharing,” Miailhe imparts, recalling the poetic phrase once uttered by Stéphanie de Saint-Aubin, Countess of Genlis: “One can only enjoy well what one shares.” Indeed, great wines entail great company—and with each bottle shared, so too is the story of Château Siran. First acquired by wine merchant Léo Barbier on the 14th of January 1859, the estate prospered into a proud family legacy. Succeeding stewards have left indelible marks on Siran, including a passion for Petit Verdot and Merlot (two of the four varieties in the vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc), wine labels by renowned artists and the ever-delicious 1918 vintage. Nearing his 15th year at the helm, Miailhe himself has contributed his own narrative.

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Just last year, the Château Siran 2018 vintage was recognised as Wine Enthusiast’s number one wine of the year. “It came as a wonderful surprise for the whole team, myself included,” Miailhe recalls, continuing “Wine Enthusiast tastes 22,000 wines on average every year, so what are the chances we would be number one? “Our 2018 vintage is a very nice example of what the Margaux appellation can achieve at its best, so yes we were super happy and very proud!”, he exclaims. Beyond regular meetings with their wine master and vineyard manager, and caring for the winery’s some 8,000 visitors pre-pandemic (and treating them to the gastronomic delights of their Filipina chef who “does delicious French cuisine”), Miailhe’s stewardship has also been characterised by endeavours in sustainable and organic agriculture, and in-depth re-structuring across the estate. Teasing what they’ve got in store, he shares “the 2020 vintage label will be revealed in May and every year from now on, we will have a special label design on Château Siran’s bottle.”

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The Labarde plateau, on which the vineyard is perched, tells its own fascinating tale. Reshaped by a tertiary landslide, a natural filtering layer of gravel, sand and pebbles from the Garonne River formed, assisting in the regulation of water supply and the aeration of the soil. Located in Médoc’s south, the vineyard boasts a temperate, oceanic climate that allows vines to thrive. Despite the turbulent weather and late frosts that have haunted the region in recent years, the Siran vineyard remains protected by the microclimate of the plateau. Truly, the Siran vineyard drew good fortune, inheriting an abundance of qualities that invite great wine.

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When we take care of our vineyards, we plan for 50 to 70 years. We work for the following generation, and the one after that too
Édouard Miailhe

Nonetheless, Château Siran continues to preserve the vineyard as best as they can. Facing the realities of global warming, the team selects rootstocks that are most adept at resisting scorching summers. As a participant in the VITINNOV research programme, they hope to reinvigorate the region’s flora and fauna through sowing endemic seeds, replanting trees and other initiatives. In recognition of these efforts to revitalise the biodiversity of the region, the winery was also awarded the High Environmental Value certification (HVE 3). By taking ecological responsibility and implementing a holistic approach to sustainability, Château Siran realises the full promise of its terroir and reveals its elegant complexity.

Since earlier generations, the winery has opted for smaller yields and moderate inputs to best highlight the vineyard’s unadulterated potential. Extending this philosophy to the very end of the wine-making process, Siran’s vinification is nobly anti-interventionist. Once the grapes are deemed to be at their prime through daily tastings, they are handpicked and sorted for gentle extraction, fermentation, blending, and ageing. Driven by a dedication to producing wine that is faithful to Siran’s terroir, the classic but considered practice results in “delicate wines, fruity and elegant, not too powerful, but rich at the same time”—the DNA of their wines, as Miailhe puts it.

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Looking to the generations to follow, Miailhe observes “my children all love wine, so I’m not really worried for the future; but they are still young: the youngest is 16 and the oldest is 21, so we have time.” “They need to do what they love in life,” he advises, “and if it is making wine, go for it, a winery is waiting for you! I believe that you are always better when you like what you are doing.” His wife of 23 years, Sevrine has also contributed much to the business. In fact, Miailhe considers her a key adviser in their communications strategies and sharing Château Siran’s story with the world.

“When we take care of our vineyards”, Miailhe shares, “we plan for 50 to 70 years. We work for the following generation, and the one after [that] too.” He humbly distinguishes the family-owned winery from corporate wineries, “who after realising the investment, can resell the winery at any time”. He explains: “It is not the same approach.” For some, such a personal, perhaps obsessive relationship with the vineyard may seem eccentric. But for Miailhe, whose family has looked after the estate for the better part of two centuries, it is all but instinctive.

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