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Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Archives recounting the family history of Grand-Puy-Lacoste date back to the 16th century. The first recorded owner was M. de Guiraud, a member of the Bordeaux Parliament. The estate was passed down along the female lines of inheritance and was the dowry in successive marriages. One of M. de Guiraud's daughters married M. de Jehan, another member of Parliament. Their son, Bertrand de Jehan, had a daughter who inherited the property and married M. d'Issac. Traditionally, an owner's name was added to a place-name (like Grand-Puy), but the inheriting daughters took their husbands' names upon marriage which explains the numerous changes of name by which Grand-Puy has been known. Thus when d'Issac's daughter married a Bordeaux lawyer named Saint Guirons, the property became Grand-Puy Saint-Guirons. It was their daughter, Marie-Jeanne de Saint Guirons, who married François Lacoste.

With this marriage in the 19th century, the property acquired the name Lacoste. Still, the Saint-Guirons name remained as a reminder of the connection between the two families and of the property's heritage, so for a time the wines were labelled Saint Guirons-Lacoste. François Lacoste and Marie-Jeanne de Saint Guirons had three children, and after the couple's death their son Pierre-Frédéric Lacoste inherited the property in 1844.

Pierre-Frédéric Lacoste was an enterprising man, deeply committed to his estate. Like François-Xavier Borie in the following century, Lacoste focussed on quality and on improving the wine's reputation. In 1855 he rebuilt the château, and that same year Grand-Puy-Lacoste's status was officially recognised by its inclusion in the official listing of Bordeaux's Great Classified Growths.

Since the end of the 19th century, the Borie name has long been associated with skilled winemaking of the highest quality thanks to Eugène and Emile Borie, the family's founders. The story begins in the centre of France, in the Limousin region. Eugène Borie and his brother Emile were born in the Correze town of Meymac. At the end of the 19th century, the region was essentially rural and lacked a well-developed economy. Ambitious and hard-working, Eugène and Emile saw greater opportunities in Bordeaux. There they created a négociant firm, which their wives managed from Meymac, whilst they travelled to find and develop their markets.

In 1886, they rented cellars in Pauillac and began specialising in shipping wine to Normandy, northern France and especially to Belgium, while other Bordeaux négociants concentrated on the British market. The brothers' commercial acumen was rewarded as their reputation and prosperity grew.

In 1901, in an effort to guarantee higher quality, Eugène and Emile decided to build their own cellars and age their wines themselves. During this time they also bought Château Saint-Gemme, a Cru Bourgeois in Saint-Laurent, just south west of Saint-Julien. With this step the two brothers became winemakers in the Médoc, the terroir at the heart of the family business.

Eugène Borie and his wife Annette had four children: Eugénie, Thérèse, Francis and Marcel. When Eugène died in 1911, his eldest son Francis, who had studied law in Bordeaux, went to work with his uncle Emile. He was later joined by his brother Marcel, and together they created the firm of Borie Frères. The two brothers enlisted at the start of the First World War and suspended their business activities. Upon their return from the front, Francis and Marcel further committed to winemaking with the purchase of Château Batailley, a classified fifth growth in Pauillac.

On June 8, 1920, Francis married Marguerite Borderie, from another family of Correzien négociants. She owned Château Bel-Air in Quinsac, northeast of Bordeaux, and together they had two children, Jean-Eugène and Françoise.

Now firmly anchored in the world of Médoc winemaking, Borie Frères prospered. In 1939, Francis and Marcel decided to spilt the business in two: each brother formed his own company and each took one half of Château Batailley. Francis' half became Château Haut-Batailley, which today belongs to his daughter Françoise Des Brest Borie and is managed by Domaines François-Xavier Borie. Two years later, Francis bought Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, a second growth in the 1855 classification. He fell in love with the property, deciding to live there and give it his complete attention.

Ducru-Beaucaillou fully benefitted from Francis Borie's commitment to excellence and his ability to achieve it. His son Jean-Eugène worked at his side with an equal passion, and took over the estate after Francis' death in 1953. In 1950, Jean-Eugène Borie married Monique Rochette and had three children: Sabine, François-Xavier and Bruno.

The family's history took a decisive turn in 1978 when the owner of Grand-Puy-Lacoste "chose” Jean-Eugène to buy the property. After acquiring the estate he turned to his son François-Xavier to manage it; his challenge was to awaken this sleeping beauty.

From the time of their marriage in 1979, François-Xavier and Marie-Hélène Borie decided to live in the château. Together, they undertook the major work of renovating the production buildings as well as the residence, seeking to give full expression to their vision of quality and their approach to life on this remarkable terroir. François-Xavier personally supervised the renovation of the operational side of the property. Of the vineyard's original 55 hectares only 30 remained, the château was in poor condition and the winemaking buildings required renovation. Major investments were quickly made: in 1979 a new vat house with temperature-controlled tanks was built, and just four years later Grand-Puy-Lacoste achieved its first great success with the 1982 vintage, whose perfection symbolised the property's rebirth. He restored the vineyard by replacing vines where necessary, improved the drainage system, instituted new methods of canopy management, etc. Further investments renewed the estate's buildings: the vinification cellar was renovated in 1995 and a new barrel cellar was created in 2003. In 2006 other improvements were made, such as installing a vibrating table equipped with the latest technology for sorting harvested grapes. In 2008, air conditioning was installed throughout the buildings.

The first residence at Grand-Puy was built in 1737. In 1855 Pierre-Frédéric Lacoste gave the château its definitive appearance. Marie-Hélène turned to the chateau's renovation: it had been practically uninhabited since the 1930s and she gave the residence its elegant and welcoming style. Outbuildings were also completely renovated to provide accommodation for the grape-pickers during harvest time. The couple's love of nature also led them to develop the parks and woodlands around the château, creating a serene and harmonious environment.

The château's classic French architecture combines pale Bordeaux limestone with the intense grey of its slate roofing. Instead of the tile commonly used for buildings of lesser character, the Lacoste family chose the noblest of materials, slate from the area around Tours. The façade is restrained, almost austere, but an elegant and stylish asymmetry is introduced on the right by a single square tower whose roof displays a Renaissance influence. This tower contains the chapel, where the latest generation of Borie children were baptised.

Over time, the château became a true family home, with its traditions and celebrations, and ceremonies in its chapel. Emeline, Laurence and Pierre-Antoine were born here, grew up at the property, attended school in Pauillac, and participated in the village's daily life. As adults, when studies and careers carried them far from home, they were always delighted to return to Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Today, François-Xavier and Marie-Hélène's eldest daughter Emeline is in charge of communication and public relations at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. She travelled widely as a student and received valuable international experience during two years with an importer of wines in Vietnam.

So far three generations of Bories have shared their destiny with that of Grand-Puy-Lacoste. With a passion for Médoc winemaking spanning 100 years, the family has developed an ancestral attachment to fundamental values like humility in the face of nature, a search for harmony in the smallest details, a sense of sharing, and a generous hospitality. This has been a long-term project using technical innovation to improve quality and develop a more refined expression of terroir with each passing vintage. Today, Grand-Puy-Lacoste does not look to increase its production in terms of quantity but more importantly to increase the quality of its production, with greater control, precision, and consistency of style from one vintage to the next.

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