Renaissance of an ‘English’ Château
The history of Château Loudenne is inextricably linked with the British wine trade. Built in the 17th century, Loudenne had many owners until 1875 when it was sold to two English brothers, Walter and Alfred Gilbey. The Gilbeys were already well known wine and spirit merchants in London and producers of the gin of the same name. The wines of Loudenne prospered in the British trade, surviving two world wars and underwent a renovation programme in the 1960s and 70s. Under the energetic and experienced management of Martin Bamford MW Château Loudenne remained part of Gilbey’s despite successive take-overs. Finally owned by Diageo, who eventually sold the Château after more than a century of English ownership.
THE LAFRAGETTE FAMILY
In March 2000 the château was bought by the Lafragette family who had established their reputation in the Cognac industry. They have done much work in the vineyardand the winery, improved the cellars and opened up the château to receive visitors including a wonderful wine museum. Today their daughter Florence runs the château with her youthful energy and a modern approach to Bordeaux wine marketing. She belongs to a new generation of young Bordelais proprietors who are determined to change some of the old fashioned perceptions of Bordeaux and reinvigorate the market for the region’s wines.
THE PINK CHÂTEAU
There is a saying that “great Médoc terroir overlooks the river” so the position of Loudenne’s vineyards is ideal. With 60 hectares of gravelly ridges that slope gently towards the Gironde estuary, the situation is perfect for grape growing. The vineyards extend virtually to the water’s edge where the only private harbour in the Médoc exists. 48 hectares are planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. A further 12 hectares have Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. The soils are predominantly clay-limestone and Garonne gravel. The unique situation is matched by a pretty château painted a distinctive ‘Suffolk’ pink colour complemented by the summer blooms of the delightful rose garden that extends in front of the main château building.
The grand vin, Château Loudenne, a Médoc Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, is a blend of 48% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec. Vinified in stainless steel or concrete vats with the malolactic fermentation in new French oak casks. The élevage lasts 16 months in casks of which 30% are renewed every year. Michel Rolland is the consultant oenologist. A new second wine called Rives de Loudenne has just been released. A delightful white, Loudenne Blanc and a rosé, Pink de Loudenne complete the range. The wines have the classic elegance and weight of the wines of nearby St Estèphe but without any austere characteristics. With rounded flavours and judicious new oak, Loudenne produces very consistent and attractive claret.
Visit the web site for Château Loudenne