Chateau Pichon Longueville: Pauillac, France
In July of 2014, Carol and I traveled with a small group we brought with us to France to sail with Uniworld River Cruises in the Bordeaux wine region of France.
As you can see from my original photograph, the Chateau Pichon Longueville, just south of Pauillac in the famous Bordeaux wine region of France, possesses a charm that travel dreams are made of. And, as a travel photographer, I couldn’t get out of our Uniworld luxury touring coach fast enough to begin snapping photographs.
The Founders – 1686-1689
Pierre de Mazure de Rauzan, a wealthy bourgeois trader from Bordeaux, bought some vineyards near the Latour fiefdom and established a wine-growing estate, L’Enclos Rauzan.
A little later his daughter, Thérèse, received it as a dowry for her marriage to Jacques François de Pichon Longueville, President of the Bordeaux Parliament. And so began the history of one of the greatest Bordeaux vineyards, which stayed in the same family for over 250 years.
As early as the eighteenth century, this great wine was already benefiting from a significant feminine touch. The Pichon Longueville baronesses – Thérèse de Rauzan, Germaine de Lajus and Marie Branda de Terrefort – were a strong guiding influence, managing the vineyard until the eve of the French Revolution.
The young Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville inherited the vineyard from his mother, Marie de Terrefort, when he was just 19. He died at the age of 90, having lived through three revolutions, the reign of five kings, two republics and an empire. In spite of the difficult times he doggedly sought to improve the quality of the wine. His efforts were rewarded in 1855, in the rankings carried out under Napoleon III, when the château was classed as a Second Cru.
Just before his death in 1850, Joseph decided to divide the estate between his five children. Under this even-handed arrangement his two sons inherited two fifths of the vineyard and the wine-making facilities, and his three daughters the other three fifths.
One of his daughters, Virginie, who was married to the Count de Lalande, decided to become independent, managing her share of the vineyard and that of her two sisters. Since she wished to live on her property, at the heart of the Médoc region, the Countess commissioned the Bordeaux architect Duphot to build her a home, drawing inspiration from the Hôtel de Lalande in Bordeaux where her husband had spent his childhood.
Her love for the vineyard and her astute management made her an imposing figure who made her mark on the estate – and whose name is still associated with it.
Since she had no children, Virginie left her vineyard to Elisabeth, the wife of her nephew Count Charles de Lalande. Difficult times followed, during which the vineyard was ravaged by oidium, mildew, fraud, and finally the Great War, which dealt a fatal blow to the vine-growing economy. The price of wine fell relentlessly, so much so such that operating costs were barely covered. The Countess’ heirs had no choice but to sell the vineyard.
The estate has since passed through the hands of several families, and today’s owners are working hard to create wines that are representative and worthy of the long history of this fabulous estate.
It’s quite amazing to think that during the beginnings of this estate the United States was still small colonies under England with great problems brewing from the colonists in Boston.
The Bordeaux wine region is a spectacularly beautiful region. The countryside is dotted with beautiful chateaus with storied histories, and today boasts some of the world’s best wines, vineyards, and acclaimed brands.
I’ll be sprinkling in more stories from our river cruise in the Bordeaux region over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned…
If you’d like to read more about our experience with Uniworld River Cruises, CLICK HERE.
For help booking a river cruise in the fabulous Bordeaux region of France, call us at (480) 550-1235, or use our convenient online information request by CLICKING HERE.
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