Whilst reading about the recent purchase of Chateau Mauvesin by the Barton family the other day I came across another château for sale: Chateau Les Conseillans. The château initially caught my attention due to the similarity of its name to that of Chateau La Conseillante in Pomerol. There is no historical connection between the two estates. La Conseillante takes its name after an enterprising lady – Catherine Conseillan, a Libourne iron merchant, who inherited the property in 1734. She was known as the dame de fer (the Iron Lady) and she pioneered the development of monocultural vineyards. I presume Les Conseillans takes its name after conseiller (the French word for advisors or counselors) and this estate also has a pioneer in its past . . .
Chateau Les Conseillans was the home of Jean Ribéreau-Gayon for 53 years. Jean Ribéreau-Gayon founded the Bordeaux Institute of Oenology in 1949 and discovered malolactic fermentation together with Emile Peynaud. Together they are known as the founders of modern oenology. Jean’s father Ulysse Ribéreau-Gayon worked as Louis Pasteur’s assistant in the 1880s and Jean’s son, Pascal (who died earlier this year) is credited with pioneering research into phenolics and anthocyanins in grapes, and into the structural and qualitative differences between hybrid and vitis vinifera vines.
Les Conseillans lies in the commune of Saint-Caprais-de-Bordeaux and the vineyard can be dated back to the 17th century. The Directoire-style chateau was built at the end of the 18th century. The estate covers 20 hectares and is surrounded by streams, springs and woods that have been registered on the French list of classified sites due to the variety of species that make up the forest. The Premières Côtes de Bordeaux and Cadillac vineyard is currently planted with 6 hectares of vines. The grapes planted are 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc and Malbec (5.4 hectares). The remainder is planted white vines, 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.
Not surprisingly the estate has a big price tag (around 2, 650,000 million euros) but given its connections to Jean Ribéreau-Gayon and the correct marketing it could be well worth it.