Château Grand Puy Lacoste, the Crocodile Wine

Apparently the wine of Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste is nicknamed Crocodile Wine in China due to the name being the same as the famous French sports ware with the crocodile logo.

The Lacoste company takes the crocodile as its logo from its founder, the world-renowned tennis player, René Lacoste (1904–1996) who was nicknamed “The Crocodile” by the U.S. press.

However Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste is not linked to the family and began life in the Middle Ages as a larger estate known as Grand Puy, incorporating Château Grand Puy Ducasse, which was subsequently divided.

The Château takes its name from the Pauillac word for a hill or mound “Puy” is located only a couple of miles west from the town of Pauillac.

The vineyard neighbours Châteaux Batailley and Lynch Moussas and is unusual in that it is a single block on the plateau of Bages. This is one of the few châteaux where the vineyard remains unaltered, without addition or subtraction since the in the 1855 Classification.

There is some debate as to when the old estate of Grand Puy was divided but books written a hundred years ago trace the estate back to 1510 citing “Bordeaux et Ses Vins” by Cocks and Féret (first published in 1850).

According to this source at the end of the 15th century Grand Puy belonged to a Monsieur de Guiraud. One of this gentleman’s daughters married Monsieur de Jehan (or Dejean), a member of the Parliament of Bordeaux. De Jehan was a wealthy landowner and also owned Chateau Lynch Bages.

His son Bertrand de Jean is said to have sold off a parcel of vines to Pierre Ducasse in 1587, creating what was to become Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse. However Clive Coates cites Professor Pijassou as establishing that Bertrand de Jean sold Lynch Bages in 1728 and vines to Pierre Ducasse in 1750.

Lawyers and parliamentarians succeeded one another at the head of Grand Puy and eventually it was passed down the female line. One of the De Jehan daughters married Françoise Lacoste and he duly appended his name to the Château, creating Grand Puy Lacoste.

The chateau that we see today was built in 1850 and incorporates part of an earlier building dating from 1737. The stream that runs through the grounds was used to create water gardens and the 8 hectare park was planted with oaks, pines and maples that are huge trees today.

The chateau was classified as a Fifth Growth in 1855 and had a good reputation, winning a silver medal at Paris 1878 and a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of the Philomathic Society at Bordeaux in 1895.

By 1920 the wines were well-known among English connoisseurs of Claret. Today Grand Puy Lacoste is an example of where the 1855 Classification is out dated as its wines are considered to equal those of the Second Growths.

In 1932 the chateau was bought by Raymond Dupin, one of Bordeaux’s greatest gourmets and noted bon vivant. Despite the fact that Dupin did not reside at the estate he loved his wine, serving Grand Puy Lacoste at his many dinners and soirées.

Dupin did spend a lot of time at his vineyard and was closely involved in its management. In 1978 Dupin sold the château to Jean Eugene Borie, owner of Château Ducru Beaucaillou as he was without an heir and wanted a worthy successor to his legacy.

Jean-Eugène’s son Xavier (who also owns Châteaux La Couronne and Haut Batailley) took up residence at Grand Puy Lacoste in 1979 and began a remodelling program which completely modernized the ancient and dilapidated chateau and cellars.

Château Grand Puy Lacoste has reputation for consistently making big, durable, full bodied Pauillacs which should be in a higher classification.

These wines have a wonderful perfume of cinnamon, ripe redcurrants, blackberries,wood and tobacco. They are creamily smooth, age well and represent a top class Pauillac, regularly out performing their peers.

If you are interested in learning more check out Jeff Leve’s tasting notes at the Wine Cellar Insider and vintages can be purchased from Interest In Wine.

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