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The story of Chateau Cadillac

In the 1860s and 70s, the founder of Dubbo, Bordeaux-native, Jean Emile Serisier, planted 70,000 vines on the outskirts of Dubbo. Several generations later his descendant, Richard Serisier has taken the family tradition full circle, returning to France where he is busy creating his own award winning wines. Dubbo Weekender welcomes Richard as a regular contributor who will write on wine making in the Bordeaux / St Emilion region in a column to be named Domaine Serisier. This week he introduces himself and his life in France.

By Richard Serisier, Owner, Domaine Serisier

Chateau Cadillac is a late middle ages chateau/fort built in 1500 to 1502 and is, in fact, the second chateau on the site. The first chateau dated from the early 1200’s and one can see remnants of this in the walls of the ramparts and dry moat. 

The property was for many years in the ‘English domaine’ with the first Baron de Cadillac, Pey de Montrevel, created by Edward the Second in 1307. 

Pey de Montrevel, who tired of the English taxes under Edward the Third after the start of the 100 Years War, went over to the French side in the 1340’s and forfeited the estate. The chateau was finally destroyed and all it’s inhabitants killed by the French in 1377 at which time it came under the control of the English peer, John Neville of Raby who was the Seneschal of Cascony at that time. 

The site then remained a ruin until the present chateau was built when the heirs of the first Baron were finally re-instated in the 1490’s.

The chateau itself has, since it was rebuilt, undergone a gradual transformation from being ‘fortified’ to being a family home which it has been for the last two or three hundred years

My ancestry is part French and part British with my French ancestor migrating to Australia from Bordeaux back in 1839. 

So, Bordeaux has always been of interest to me and in 2004 I decided to buy a property there. Chateau Cadillac was actually the first property I inspected and, after visiting many others over some months of searching, I came back and settled on it.

It is also one of the rarest and oldest in the region as many of the other grand chateaux have much more recent histories which are involved with the wine industry.

What did I love about Cadillac? It has a certain feeling about it which is hard to describe, it just feels special. Even a French friend of mine from Dijon, who had ‘poo pooed’ the whole of idea of buying ‘old stones’ as he put it, was impressed and admitted Cadillac has ‘cache’. When we have visitors, whether they are from overseas or local, they all feel this ‘cache’ or special feeling that goes with the property. 

When we first bought Cadillac in 2004 making a wine was not on the agenda. The property had some vines attached but these were ‘en fermage’ for which we received a rent.

So, although my family have been involved in the wine industry in various ways since before the French Revolution, first in Bordeaux and later in Australia, I am myself a new boy to the art of making and selling wine… my first vintage was only in 2012!

There is a certain inevitability I’m afraid about owning a property in Bordeaux and living amongst the vines… it gets you in and before you know it you want to try your hand at making wine as well!

The estate itself though has a very long history of wine production.

In the early editions of Cocks et Ferret it seems that they were the amongst the largest wine producers on the Right Bank with some 600 tonneau per annum. This equates to about 700,000 bottles a year!

Times have changed and today I’m making about 50,000 bottles per annum from a much smaller estate and I’m wanting to make the best wines that the terroir is capable of… rather than to the prescription of my AOC which is Bordeaux Superior.

My wines are merlot based with some cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. The focus is to make wines that are fruit forward, fresh, supple and balanced, not over ripe, not over extracted, not over oaked and able to be enjoyed young but still with enough structure so as to also age well.

The wines have been described as modern or contemporary in style… but they are not ‘garargiste’.

I have several labels as follows:

Chateau Montrevel (new to the 2014 vintage and the 'special cuvee')

Named after the first Baron de Cadillac.

Le Bout du Monde (both red and rose) 

Named after the ancient name of the fields outside the chateau…the ‘Champs du Bout du Monde’ or ‘fields at the end of the world’…somewhat appropriate for an Australian proprietor?

La Romane by Chateau Meillac

Chateau Meillac