History, wine, and a study in contrasts – Bordeaux, June 4

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In this action-packed day, we visited 5 chateaux, all in the fabulous area of Margeaux, had a wonderful lunch at the Margeaux Country Club, and then an unforgettable dinner at Chateau Lascombes.

It all started with Chateau Margeaux. The property existed from the 12th century, but wine making at Margeaux began in the 17th century. Claret from Bordeaux became popular after Richard the Lionhart began drinking it between crusades. Chateau Margeaux was regarded as one of the finest producers from the very beginning, and its reputation has remained ever since. The most recent chateau dates from the reign of Napoleon I. When we visited, a major rebuilding was under way, but we did manage to see the cellars, and of course we tasted the fabulous wine. Click on the link below to go to the Chateau Margeaux website.

Chateau Margeaux

Next we visited Chateau Palmer, which is an unusual name for a French chateau. General Charles Palmer, a British General and aide-de-camp to Wellington met a pretty young widow, Madame Marie de Gasq, on a coach ride through France. This charming widow just happened to be on her way to Paris to try to sell the vineyard estate she had inherited from her late husband. The General was mesmerized by the lady, and by the time they arrived in Paris, Palmer was the new owner of an estate in Bordeaux. “Palmer’s Claret” soon became the wine of choice in fashionable London clubs of the post-Napoleonic era, and the wine became firmly established as a Grand Cru product. The amazing history of this estate contrasts with the ultra-modern methods Palmer now employs to create the best possible Grand Cru wines. Even the estate itself has been carefully redone to resemble a Medoc hamlet. One of my favorite properties in Bordeaux! Click on the link below to go to the Chateau Palmer website.

Chateau Palmer

Probably my favorite Chateau ever is Chateau Rauzan-Segla. This property is steeped in history, originally part of the noble house of Gassis, at the very origin of Gascony. The same family which would later own Chateau Palmer also owned this estate, the de Gasq family, but it was sold to Pierre Desmezures de Rauzan in 1661, giving the estate a new name. By the end of the 18th century, the wines from Rauzan were already world famous. The famous wine enthusiast and world traveller, Thomas Jefferson visited the property in 1787, declared it one of the greatest wines in the world, and later ordered 10 cases. When not enjoying fine Bordeaux, Jefferson also found time to write the American Declaration of Independence, and serve as President of the United States. Undoubtedly, Chateau Rauzan-Segla was served at the brand new White House. There is also tie-in to Louis XVI, because of the replica of Chateau Bagatelle built at Rauzan-Segla. The original Chateau Bagatelle was built in Paris by the Comte d’Artois, brother of the King. See the photo gallery for more about this intriguing connection. The property is gorgeous, and the wines are even more so. Perhaps fitting for this noblest of properties, the Chateau is now owned by Chanel, and it’s celebration labels were designed by the legendary Karl Lagerfeld. A complete joy to visit and experience! The estate website is currently under development, so click the link below to see an informative article about Rauzan-Segla from the Wine Cellar Insider.
Chateau Rauzan-Segla

In contrast to the opulent glories of the Grand Cru chateax, we next visited a brand new chateau, created in 1993, by a visionary named Michel Theron. Armed with a degree in viticulture, and an unshakable belief in organic winemaking methods, the 25-year-old began growing grapes on rented land in Margeaux. With every franc he earned, he bought some more land, and he now owns around 15 acres in both Margeaux and Haut-Medoc. His Chateau is his house, his winery is in his garage, but he produces some of the highest quality and best wines of Margeaux and Haut-Medoc. He has now been “discovered” by the wine world, and his vintages sell out before they are bottled. We had the great privilege to visit the vineyards, see the garage winery, and to taste the wine in his living room. We felt as though we were present at the birth of a legend! Chateau Clos du Jaugueyron does not have a website, but click below for a link to a French article about Michel Theron. Use Google to translate.

Chateau Clos du Jaugueyron

We ended our day with one more Chateau to tour, Chateau Lascombes, another venerable Margeaux chateau with origins in the 17th century. In addition to tasting the amazing wine, we were treated to a gourmet feast in the chateau itself, which provided the perfect ending to a perfect day in Bordeaux! Click below to go to the website for Chateau Lascombes.

Chateau Lascombes

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