Owners: Kilian, Alain, Anne, and Katell Griaud
Winemaker: Kilian Griaud
Vineyards: 12.5ha, all estate-owned
Vineyard management: Certified organic since 2008
Soils: Calcareous clay on the slopes, and clay-silt on the plateau
Grapes grown: Semillon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon
Annual production: 50,000 bottles
- Alain and Anne came up with the name “Kalian” by combining the names of their two children: Katell and Kilian.
- The family has a local connection–Katell has been working as a winemaker in Virginia since 2009.
In 1992, Anne and Alain Griaud fell in love with this property, located in Monbazillac in the Dordogne. Not having come from the world of wine, they were simply looking for a corner of the countryside to settle down, after having lived in cities for most of their lives. They found a beautiful property with 4.8ha of vineyards, but pretty much nothing else: no tanks, no tractors, no presses, etc. It took a lot of work to completely rebuild the infrastructure to establish a suitable cellar. Having done so, they began to expand: they purchased one hectare nearby in 1998, then expanded again in 2007 and 2020, reaching their current size of 12.5ha under vine, plus another 15ha of meadows and woods.
For the children, the change from apartment life to country life was a radical one. There was always something exciting to do, from building cabins, to catching tadpoles in the neighbor’s pond, etc… It’s natural therefore that both Griaud children decided to pursue their studies in the field of agronomy, and both obtained diplomas in oenology. Kilian took charge of the property in 2007, and he made the decision to convert the domaine to organic farming the following year.
At Kalian, they focus mainly on the production of the classic Monbazillac white dessert wines. The climate here is uniquely suited to the production of high quality sweet wines. Morning fog in the autumn is very common (on average 55 days per year!), and it’s most often followed by sunny days–the perfect conditions for the development of Botrytis cinerea, or “noble rot.”
The principal objective of Chateau Kalian is to grow grapes of the highest quality, produced via methods that are respectful of the environment, and to make wines that are as balanced as possible and that can express the terroir through their fruit, their natural acidity, and their structure. Their philosophy is to intervene as little as possible while ensuring the best fermentation possible.
As Katell puts it, “the work of a vigneron is difficult, with long hours, and more often than not you’re the winemaker and the manager and the marketer, etc. This position requires you to be successful in a variety of roles. It also demands that you be humble, when a simple weather event can undo the work of an entire year and put the entire business in danger. It’s a job that puts things in perspective, allows you to engage with the countryside and the environment, and teaches you patience and tenacity. It’s a job unlike any other, where we can follow a product from the beginning until the end–from the planting of the young vines, through the monitoring of the vineyard, the harvest, and the vinification, until it’s a finished wine in a consumer’s glass. There’s no greater satisfaction than to see all your hard work end in the smile on the face of someone who’s tasting your wine.”