Some thought it was a good idea, making it clear that Laville was the white wine of La Mission Haut-Brion while others were sorry to see an old name disappear from Bordeaux. Re-branding a well established wine brand is usually a very well thought out decision. In the case of Château Laville Haut-Brion, both names were historically justified. For almost 100 years, Château Laville Haut-Brion belonged to the Laville Family. Marie de Laville bought the estate on July 16, 1611. Ten years later it passed to her brother, Bertrand de Laville. It was only in 1717, that the Laville family sold the estate to a surgeon called Bernard Gaussens.
It made a lot of sense to name the wine after the place it came from. Even after the Laville family didn’t own the place, the successive owners kept the name as part of the tradition. But, at some point during the 20th century – around 1930 if I remember well my history – the owner of Château Laville, M. Bibonne, changed the name to La Mission Haut-Brion blanc. The Woltners went back to the original name.
What does this story tell us about re-branding a wine? For three centuries, the name of the Laville brand was associated to a family who did not belong to the place anymore. By changing the name to associate it to a place currently existing, La Mission Haut-Brion, two factors were accounted for at once: the historical value of the name and the consumer. The latter will gain a better understanding of a rather complicated system since there are three wines available in the La Mission Haut-Brion range: Château La Mission Haut-Brion red and white, La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion, the second wine (red) of Château La Mission Haut-Brion. It is always positive to help the consumer better understand the world of our wines.