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Clarets and sauternes, classed growth of the Medoc and other famous red and white wines of the Gironde online

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lonOon :

22 & 23 Great Tower Street, E,C. 3.


To E. L, J. R.

We take leare to dedicate this volume to you,
lttt of friendx and most aenerous of men, because
it icax in consequence of your repeated appeals
that ire at last contented to adopt your original
idea. It has now crystallised in book form and if ,
in its circulation through the Trade, it is of the
xliahtext uxe to lovern of, and dealer* in, Claret, we
know full well you will be overjoyed.

H. C. L.

J. H.



^ HE notes that follow have necessarily been gatliered
from various sources. If they prove serviceable to
the Wine Trade at all it -is, in the main, through the
value of such great source-books on the famous French
r/nr-i/ards as Messrs. Feret & Fils' " Bordeaux and Its
Wines" along with quotations from other sources
undent and modern -first-hand revisions by the actual
estate proprietors, etc. The book has also had the benefit
of expert criticism by many ivho carry an honored
name in the Trade, both on this side of the Channel
and on the Continent, and for all such help,
encouragement and advice, grateful thanks are due.

Among Claret connoisseurs the subject of " Chateau
bottling" is of perennial interest, and even the most
indifferent " layman " consulting a wine list will feel
impelled, sooner or later, to seek enlightenment and
satisfaction as to the mysterious formula " Chateau
bottled," or, as the French usually put it: "Mis en
les au Chateau"

What, it may be asked, was the origin of the practice
of Chateau bottling ? And by tchom was it commenced?
It would appear that the practice of bottling at the
Chateau goes back nearly three-quarters of a century.
According to investigations undertaken in Bordeaux
a considerable time ago, the celebrated Chateau Lafite
is credited with having inaugurated "La mise en
bouteilles au Chateau " in 1847, but the distinction has

also been claimed for the corresponding giant among
White wines Chateau Yquem ; the evidence, however.
being lens certain. In the early years of the innovation
it would seem that the privilege of " Chateau bottling "
at Chateau Lafite, at any rate, ivas taken advantage
of only for quite small lots. There were, nevertheless,
during the years 1847 to 1862, a few Chateau
bottling* undertaken at Chateau Latour and Chateau
Margaux. Probably there are many meirliants still
living who can recall the 1869 Chateau Lafite, pur chased
at the time by the firm of Jules Clavelle, who had all of
it put into bottles at the Chateau. The transact ion was
very successful, not only because it authenticated the
wine definitely and finally, but because it made the
name of Clnvelle well known in England and it is
generally conceded that it contributed in no small
degree to popularise this feature of the Grand French
Wines. It is, as it were, an important landmark in
the history of Claret. Chateau Margaux, another of
tlif ladders among the triumvirate of Medoc giants,
and /in ff-Kx famous than Lafite, had nearly all its
1869 vintage irhich icas of remarkable quality
bottled on the Estate. From this time onwards the
practice became more and more general until it reached
its zenith just before the outbreak of the lamentable
World War. Tltere ire re, of course, notable exceptions.
For instance, at Chateau Lafite there was no Chateau
bottling from 1885 to 1906. It was due to the initiative
and hard striving of a very well-known Bordeaux
House that the privilege of Chateau bottling at Lafite
was re-cxtabl is/ted, after a comparatively long period
of dexuctude.

Our ,,f/irr aspect remains to be touched upon. The
various Chateaux mentioned in this book are dealt
n-illi according to the classification in use since 1855, as
nhoirn by //i<> list drawn up, at Bordeaux, by the
Syndicate of lirokers in that year.

G. A. A'.


Section I.

Section V.



Chateau Lafite Pauillac.

Pontet-Canet Pauillac.

Chateau Margaux ... Margaux.


Chateau Latour Pauillac.

Grand-Puy-Lacoste ... ,,

Chateau Haut-Brion ... Pessac.

Grand-Puy Ducasse ... ,,

Lynch- Bages ,,

Section II.



Dauzac Labarde.

Mouton-d'Annailhacq ... Pauillac.

Mouton-Rothschild ... Pauillac.

Le Tertre Arsac.

Rausan-Segla Margaux.

Haut-Bages Pauillac.



Leoville-Lascases ... St. Julien.

Belgrave St. Laurent.


Camensac ... ... ... ,,

Leoville-Barton ,,
Durfort-Vivens Margaux.

Cos-Labory St. Estephe.
Clerc-Milon Pauillac.

Lascombes ,,
Gruaud-Larose-Faure ... St. Julien.

Croizet-Bages ,,
Cantemerle Macau.

Gruaud-Larose-Sarget ... ,,

Brane-Cantenac Cantenac.

Pichon-Longueville ... Pauillac.

Pichon-Lalande ,,
Ducru-Beaucaillou ... St. Julien.

Section VI.

Cosd'Estournel St. Estephe.


Montrose ,,


Section III.


Kirwan Cantenac.

Section VII.

Issan, d' ... ... ... ,.
Lagrange St. Julien.


Langoa . -

Giscours . Labarde.

Brown-Cantenac Cantenac.
Malescot-St.-Exupery ... Margaux.

Section VIII.

Palmer Margaux.
La Lagune Ludon.


Desmirail Margaux.

Calon-Segur St. Estephe.

Ferriere Margaux.

Section IX.

Marquis-d'Alesme-Becker ,,


Section IV.



St.-Pierre-Bontemps ... St. Julien.


Section X.

Branaire-Ducru ,,



Duhart-Milon Pauillac.


Poujet ... _ ... Cantenac.

Latour-Carnet St. Laurenl.

Rochet St. Estephe.

Beycbevelle St. Julien.

Section XI.

Le Prieun* Cantenac.

Marquis de Terme ... Margaux.




We wish it to be distinctly understood that
the particulars of monopolies or purchases of
certain vintages are given with the utmost
reserve and without any guarantee of their
correctness, although we have made every
possible effort to secure their absolute accuracy.

First Growths.

Chateau Lafite Pauillac.

Chateau Margaux Margaux,

Chateau Latour Pauillac.

Chateau Haut-Btion . . Pessac.

The First



To the Claret drinker in England, or indeed the con-
noisseur of Bordeaux Wines anywhere, the name of Chateau
Lafite, one of the four " Premiers Grands Crus de Medoc,"
has much in it that is attractive. No Claret Wine list with
any pretension to adequacy seems complete without it, and
whilst, perhaps, "Chateau Lafite" has not quite the same
significance, or is not the same index of value, to the
Englishman as to the Frenchman, there can be no question
of the undisputed popularity of this great Wine the whole
world over.

The history of Chateau Lafite has been given in epitome
many times, and in a work of this kind it is not possible
to attempt more than the barest outline. Except vague
references in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, very little
is known about the proprietors of Chateau Lafite till we come
to the eighteenth century, when mention is made of the
Segur family. Before 1793, and even before that great social
upheaval, the French Revolution, it belonged for some con-
siderable time to a family named De Pichard, which
emigrated ; Monsieur de Pichard who was President of the
Parliament of the ancient province of Guyenne having been
executed, on account of his political opinions, at Paris. The
Chateau was sold as French national property in 1793 to
Mons. Vandenberghes for a sum of 1,200,000 francs. It
changed hands in 1818, being acquired by Mme. Rosalie
Lemaire, who bought it for 1,000,000 francs, or thereabouts;
was sold again in 1821 to Sir Harry Scott for a similar

amount, and thence, in 1867, passed to the heirs of Mons.
Vandenberghes. In 1868 it became the property of Baron
Jas. de Rothschild, by which time it had greatly augmented
in value, the purchase price paid by the Baron being no less
than 4,400,000 francs. At the present time the property is
held by the surviving heirs of Baron Rothschild. The estate
has an area of about 123 hectares (304 acres), of which
seventy are given over to the vine. The vineyard is divided


into three parts, the principal part being situated around the
Chateau ; then there is a small portion in St. Estephe, and
lastly, on the plateau, the Carruades. Production is computed
at about 210 tonneaux annually, four hhds. going to the ton-
neau. The " peak " year in the statistics of production was
the famous 1893, when 250 tonneaux (1,000 hhds.) were made.
It can readily be gathered by the increased importance
of the property, fully displayed in the figures, that Wine-
making at Chateau Lafite has long since been reduced to a
fine art, under the direction of Monsieur Mortier, the manager.
Irrespective of scientific methods, and the utmost care
bestowed upon all details, the reputation of the growth
in all other respects is well looked after, so much so that no
bad year is ever permitted to be quoted on the market as
Chateau Lafite. In years of inferior production it is simply
sold as " Vin Rouge," and on condition that the buyer or
buyers shall not refer to it as "Lafite." This protection
of the growth, of course, applies equally to the Chateau
bottlings, which are much sought after. Whenever the


I The First Growths.

practice of Chateau bottling has been in operation, only
approved years have been bottled at the Chateau, a fact that
is well evidenced when it is recalled that there was no
Chateau bottling allowed at Chateau Lafite for twenty years
after 1885, the "closed time" having come to an end in
1906, although it must not by any means be overlooked that
there were many good years among those comprised in the
period excepted. The excepted period is merely typical of
the extreme care taken to uphold the reputation of the
growth in every particular.

As concerns the initiation of the idea of Chateau bottling,
Chateau Lante offers some interesting facts in this con-
nection. It would appear " La mise en bouteilles au
Chateau " was commenced at or about 1846-1847, and it is
noteworthy that, up to a few years ago, some of the 1846
Chateau Lafite, Chateau bottling, was still being quoted on
the Bordeaux market by a leading broker. During the ten
or fifteen years following, it was possible to arrange for
Chateau bottling at Lafite, but it is understood the privilege
was not generally availed of, except for quite small lots. The
first recorded instance of the whole of the produce of a vine-
yard being put into bottle at the Chateau in its entirety was
that of Lafite 1869, when Messrs. J. Clavelle and Co., who
bought the Wine, had it Chateau bottled. Although
" Chateau bottling " was still in its initial stages, the
Chateau bottling of that year subsequently went to a high
price. There is no doubt that this particular transaction did
much in the way of popularising the idea of Chateau
bottlings, connoisseurs especially, by this time, realising its
value. Among the celebrated vintages of Chateau Lafite,
Chateau bottlings, that eventually realised high figures,
in addition to the 1869 just quoted must be mentioned
the 1864, 1874, 1875, 1878, 1880, and so on. What
may be termed "freak years," such as the 1858 (with
vintage and comet), also fetched good prices, whilst the first
Chateau-bottled Lafite that can be traced- -that of 1846, and
for this reason more or less a curiosity reached a relatively
high quotation. Naturally, as any particular Wine becomes
scarce other things being equal there is a tendency for
the price to rise, irrespective of original market quotations or
the ordinary effluxion of time.

During the closure as regards Chateau bottlings at
Lafite, as before referred to, there were many inquiries for

the Chateau bottlings, and Claret consumers in fact, the
Wine trade generally owe much to the resumption of the
privilege for it is a privilege, with such a magnificent
growth of Chateau bottling at Laftte to the two houses,
Messrs. Lebegue et Cie. and Messrs. L. Rosenheim et Fils,
under whose auspices the Chateau bottlings were, in 1906,
recommenced, and who purchased the crop, part going for five
years to Messrs. Lebegue, whilst Messrs. L. Rosenheim et Fils
bought half the yield for the years 1907 to 1911, and acquired
the monopoly for the years 1912 to 1916. The 1917, 1918 and
1919 vintages were shared between Messrs. Barton and
Guestier, J. Calvet and Cie, Eschenauer and Cie, Journu
Freres, Kappelhoff and Cie, and Schroder and Schyler and

The accompanying illustrations are reproductions of the
label, cork-brand, case-brand and top of capsule as used by
the Chateau for recent vintages, and, " en passant," it is
interesting to note the name, " Rothschild " has been added to
the description on the label, the corks, and the cases ; the date
of the year having been put on, for the first time, so long ago
as 1875.






Once more, in connection with the appearance of the
name " Rothschild " on the labels, etc., and to prevent mis-
apprehension on this side of the Channel, it may be stated the
Bordeaux trade generally lists the growth itself as " Chateau
Lante Rothschild " the shorter title of " Chateau Lafite "
being retained for trade purposes over here on account of its
greater familiarity.


The First Groirtlts.


To the regular Claret drinker the very name " Chateau
Margaux " conjures up ideas of lusciousness the name
comes smoothly off the tongue, no less so than the actual
Wine itself strikes softly on the palate. The connoisseur,
if not the man in the street, easily distinguishes, of course,
between Wines merely from the "district " of Margaux and
those emanating from the famous Chateau, although, by the
way, it must be mentioned most Wines from Margaux possess
the characteristic flavour and elegant bouquet of that justly
celebrated district. Good specimens of Chateau Margaux have
reached figures easily rivalling those attained by any of the
" Kings of the Medoc."

The property is extremely old. It has not always been
known as Chateau Margaux, but even under its present
appellation it has a very long history. In the fifteenth
century it was known under the name of "Lamothe,"
and in the seventeenth century was "leased" by a
certain Messire Pierre des Mesures de Rauzan. At one
time, like most of the larger Chateaux, it was a fortified
castle, being owned by the Seigneur de Montferrand. It was
afterwards acquired by the Seigneur de Durfort. In the year
1750, its then proprietor (Mons. de Fumel) made considerable
alterations and improvements to the vineyard. The Marquis


of Lacolonilla subsequently bought it, and demolished the
manor house as it then stood and built the Chateau as it is
to be seen to-day. Some years afterwards (1836, to be
precise), the Viscount O. Aguado, Marquis de las Marimas,
purchased it from its then owner, his son afterwards dis-
posing of it in 1879 to tne l ate Count Fillet-Will, head of one
of the greatest French banking houses. According to the latest
available figures the estate consists of 92 hectares, or roughly,
230 acres. The result of the important additions and improve-
ments effected by Mons. de Fumel has been to set the seal of
the highest possible distinction on the Wines of this magni-
ficent Chateau. As to the production on this estate, it is
reckoned to be about 190 tonneaux annually ; 400 tonneaux
were made in 1896, and it will be well to mention here that
throughout this book all figures concerning production will
connote red ivine, unless the context indicates differently.

In keeping with the always up-to-dateness displayed at
Chateau Margaux, and, like its celebrated compeer, Lafite,
among the four first growths, it was one of the earliest to
adopt the principle of Chateau bottling, although it must be
mentioned that Chateau bottlings as such were somewhat
exceptional. The same care exhibited at the other great
establishments is also naturally displayed at Chateau
Margaux ; indeed, in some respects, special precautions are
taken, and at vintage time only local men who know every
peculiarity and every nook and corner of the comparatively
small estate are employed. In spite of every precaution,
however, the final result rests with Dame Nature, and
vintages, according as the weather has been good, bad or
indifferent, vary sometimes considerably from one year to
another. Years like 1882, 1883, and 1884 were regarded as
inferior, as seen by the low prices realised ; whereas good
and very good Wines are found among the years 1899,
1900, 1904, and 1911. In Chateau bottlings of Chateau

Margaux good prices at least on our side of the Channel

have been reached by such Wines as the 1870, 1875, 1877,
1878, 1887, 1890, and later vintages, as already indicated.
The 1905 vintage was bought by Messrs. L. Rosenheim and
Fils, whilst Messrs. Schroder & Schyler & Cie., Journu Freres,
Kappelhoff & Cie., and Eschenauer & Cie. acquired the
vintages, 19071916. Those of 1917-18-19 were purchased
by Messrs. Barton and Guestier, J. Calvet and Co., Eschenauer,
Journu Freres and Kappelhoff, and Schroder and Schyler.


It can be safely prophesied that Chateau Margaux will
the elements permitting thoroughly well maintain, if
not surpass, its old-time and well-deserved reputation,
signalised as much in poetry as in prose, at least, whilst
the product of its famous vineyard bears the special
mark of the Chateau and the distinctive and justly-celebrated
arms of Count Pillet-Will.



So much has already been written of Chateau Latour,
one of the old defences of the Gironde against the pirates
from the western seaboard of Gascony and Guyenne, that
little remains to be said. The spot is peaceful enough now,
but time was when the neighbourhood was infested by sea-
faring marauders, who sailed up the river attacking property
on its banks, and who were only held in check by the
numerous forts built by the nobility and gentry of those
far-off days for the defence of themselves and dependents.
These reflections are opened up by a sight of the " tower,"
which still remains, and which is surrounded now by the vine-
yard, much as some of the castles in England are surrounded
by cornfields.

The ownership of Chateau Latour can be traced farther
back than some of its rivals among the first growths, as we


The Firat Growths.

learn from " Bordeaux et Ses Vins " that it was purchased in
1670 by Monsieur de Chanavas, secretary of the Council to
the King, and from him passed by marriage into the possession
of the Clauzel family about 1677. It afterwards became, by
virtue of a marriage settlement, the property of the Segur
family, and it has passed in the same way by reason of
marriage into the hands of the present owners, Messieurs de
Flers, de Beaumont, et de Courtivron. The merging by them of
the property into a Company, styled the Societe Civile du
Vignoble de Chateau la Tour, has greatly facilitated the
management of affairs on the estate, which now consists of
about 185 acres, 100 of which are actual " vineyard." The
100 acres of vineyard produce about 116 tuns of first-class
Wine, 10 tuns second-class, and 19 tuns of what is technically
termed " Vin de Presse." It is interesting to observe that no
fewer than 167 tonneaux were produced in 1893, the record
year for quantity.

Chateau Latour is one, of course, of the three first-
classed growths actually in the Medoc. The property itself
is nicely situated on the banks of the river (the junction of
the Garonne and Dordogne) near Bordeaux.

Consumers over here have not been slow to recognise the
merits of this magnificent Wine, and the Chateau bottlings
especially are in constant demand. In company with the
establishments of Chateaux Lafite and Margaux, the pro-
prietors of Chateau Latour were among the earliest to adopt
the principle of Chateau bottling, as it had a few exceptional
Chateau bottlings at or about the year 1860 ; at any rate,
whatever be the period in which " la mise en bouteilles du
Chateau " was initiated, the fact remains that specimens of
the 1869 and 1870 vintages (Chateau bottled) were not so many
years ago extant, " sur place," at Bordeaux. As with the
Medoc " giants," Chateaux Lafite and Margaux, the golden
years of Chateau Latour were 1858, 1862, 1864, 1865, 1868,
1869, 1870, 1875, 1877, and 1878, as all the Chateau-bottled
Wines of these years eventually changed hands at high prices
more particularly, so far as is known, the vintages 1869,
1875, and 1878.

The bouquet of Chateau Latour, of most alluring
fragrance, has been likened to the smell of a mixture of the
rose and violet, whilst it is noted for its peculiarly delicate


body, which develops in bottle and lasts for many years,
making it a safe Wine to lay down. Chateau Latour has
always Deen sold direct to the first-class Bordeaux houses,
and from 1906 to 1910 was sold " a 1'abonnement " for five
years, in thirds, to Messrs. Gaden and Klipsch, Mestrezat
et Cie., and Mateo Petit fils. Subsequent purchasers have
been: 1911, Messrs. A. Delor and Co.; 1912, Messrs. Clavelle
and Richard and Muller; 1913, Messrs. J. Chaigneau and Cie.,
Marceau, Paillere, Dubois, Mestrezat, Hanappier, and
Guestier; 1914, Messrs. Eschenauer and Cie. ; 1916, Messrs.
Eschenauer and Cie., L. Rosenheim and Fils and Julien
Damoy; 1917-18-19, Messrs. Min. Marceau, Latrille and
Ginestet, Turpin Freres and Riout, and Michaelsen and Fils.



Claret drinkers also, who are sometimes puzzled at the
absence in Chateau bottlings of the words "bottled at the
Chateau," or rather, the French equivalent for this phrase.
may be interested to learn that since the vintage of 1904
the corks, capsules and label for the Chateau Latour have
borne the wording " Mis en bouteilles au Chateau."


The First Growths.


Those who wish to adhere to strict geographical accuracy
sometimes cavil at the inclusion of Chateau Haut Brion among
the Classed Wines of the Medoc, but it is undoubtedly a con-
venience to most people concerned to class all the First
Growths under one heading, that of " Medoc," although
Pessac the district in which Chateau Haut Brion is situate
is not actually in the Medoc. Few, therefore, will take
exception to this famous Chateau appearing here. Of
specifically named Wines, without doubt the most cele-
brated and most in world repute are Chateaux Lante,
Margaux, Latour, and Haut Brion, and for this reason, if not
entirely because of their all being Premier Classed Crus, they
should surely be kept under one heading.

Chateau Haut Brion is situated about two kilometres from
Bordeaux, on the Pessac road, and has been described as
" standing at the very gates of Bordeaux." It has a long
history, the Domaine de Haut Brion being well-known as far
back as the time of Pope Clement V. The title, however, was
slightly different in form, namely " Haubrion," and some
documents of the fourteenth century even then extolled the
worth of its Wines. In the sixteenth century it belonged to
Jean de Segur, and later to the Duhalde, de Pontac, powerful
families of Guyenne. In 1770 the property passed into the
hands of the Marquis de la Tresne and of the Comte de Fumel.
During the time of the Revolution the Chateau property was
divided between the French nation and two co-heirs of the
Comte de Fumel. One of these latter personages subse-

quently bought back the portion confiscated by the Govern-
ment, and remained sole proprietor of the vineyard, which he
ceded in 1801 to Mons. de Talleyrand-Pengord. Later, Mons

Charles de Talleyrand at one time Minister of Foreign
Affairs sold the Chateau to a Paris banker. In 1837 the
property again changed hands, being acquired by Mons
Eugene Larrieu, and at present belongs to the heirs of Mons
Larrieu, who came into possession of it in 1896. Its area is


The Fi'rnt

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Online LibraryG. A K.Clarets and sauternes, classed growth of the Medoc and other famous red and white wines of the Gironde → online text (page 1 of 19)