For twenty-five years, the Fonquernie family was the proud owners of Château Suduiraut in Sauternes, ranked as a premier cru in the 1855 classification. In 1992 they decided to sell the estate to AXA Millésimes, the winegrowing branch of that major French insurance empire, and began to acquire other properties in the Sauternes district. Today Philippe Mercadier and his wife Lucille have built up an impressive trio of properties in the Sauternes that are beginning to fetch some accolades in the French press.
The main estate is Château de Veyres, which covers some 32 acres in the township of Preignac. It is planted in 75% Sémillon and the balance is Sauvignon Blanc with a little Muscadelle. As many as eight successive pickings are carried out, in proportion to the degree of pourriture noble (noble rot) in the vineyard during the growing season. Yields are very low and rarely exceed 12 hl/ha (about one-third of a Médoc estate). A small proportion of vines are over one hundred years old. After one month of fermentation, the wines are aged in new French oak for 18 months and are then bottled at the estate.
The nearby Château Tuyttens-Laville is in the township of Fargues and has a more consistent soil type of gravel, clay and sand. Only the best wines are sold as Château Tuyttens-Laville; a second wine, Château Partarrieu, is made from a selection of lighter cuvées and is mostly sold in France. Both estates benefit from the close proximity of the Ciron and the Garonne rivers, which bring in autumn mists that encourage the development of the noble mold. A third estate, Château Haut-Coustet, is composed of 22 acres of vineyard entirely in Barsac that are, on average, over fifty years old.