Chateau Larroque is owned by Marie-Christine de la Giroday, the daughter of the enterprising vigneron Henri Ducourt. The Ducourts are an extremely well respected wine making family who pioneered the revival of several estates in this part of Bordeaux (and later beyond). Their name is synonymous with quality and their wines are characterised by finesse, elegance, precision and flavour.
Larroque sits in the little village of Coimeres, on the border of Graves between Sauternes and Saint Croix du Mont. You wouldn’t think that this tucked away part of Bordeaux had any secrets; but Coimeres is steeped in history, blood thirsty battles and romance. Larroque is a very old site – in feudal times Amanieu de Sescas built a fortified house there. It’s not recorded if this was the troubadour Amanieu de Sescas, (so famous for his love songs, he was nicknamed ‘the god of love’ in his day) but the land was granted by the King so it seems likely. In 1348, at the beginning of the Hundred Years War, the knight Etienne de La Roque built a medieval castle on the site and developed a vineyard. His castle, originally named the ‘Tower of Coimeres’ (Chateau de Latour de Coimeres), became known as ‘Larroque’ after him.
In 1651, during the Fronde (French civil wars), the castle was looted and burned. It was further damaged in the French Revolution during 1791. Legend has it that the looters were local peasants fired by tales of treasure. The story goes that it was believed that under the mound, on which Larroque’s ancient tower stood, lay an underground passage that lead to the vast network of wine cellars beneath the chateau. The peasants, lured by greed one night, tried to find the hidden entrance to the catacombs. All in vain; the mysterious passage remained undiscovered and Larroque’s wine cellar stayed untouched.
Larroque was partially rebuilt later in 1830 by Etienne de La Roque’s descendants, adding neoclassical architecture to the ancient walls. The chateau’s rebirth in 1830 lead to a golden age in its wine production – at this time Larroque had no less than 400 hectares under vine and was mentioned in the famous directory of Bordeaux wines Cocks and Feret as the Premier Cru of the commune. This was not to last however, thanks to war and disease, the chateau’s vineyards fell into crumbling decline until 1979 when Marie-Christine fell in love with the estate . . . then being run as a chicken farm. Speed forward in time and Larroque is now enjoying a successful renaissance and is an award winning, prestigious left bank property.
Larroque is a prime example of the quality on offer and the 2009 is an outstanding vintage. Being aged and fuller bodied, Larroque is a wine to be enjoyed with food – try it with braised beef recipes such as osso bucco, steak a la bordelaise or roast pork and poultry. It also accompanies lamb beautifully as well as lamb tagine or moussaka.
Learn more about Claret on Nick’s Blog: Bordeaux’s secret recipes – the Red Blends