Third Growth Chateau La Lagune has purchased its neighbour, Chateau D’Arche, from Mahler Besse (who also own Second Growth Chateau Palmer). Patrick Moulin, director of La Lagune told Vitisphere:
“It is not every day that you can buy your neighbour! It only happens once in a lifetime, so do not pass up the opportunity.”
Both La Lagune and D;Arche lie in the commune of Ludon-Medoc (D’Arche’s 22 acre vineyard sits between La Lagune and the village Church). Chateau d’Arche is a Cru Bourgeois and was owned by the Duchesne family in 1890. A hundred years later the family sold D’Arche to Maher Besse, in whose care it remained until its recent sale.
The grapes grown in the vineyard are 40% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining 15% is made up from Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. D’Arche produces around 50,000 bottles a year. As its wines were made by the same winemaking team that produce Chateau Palmer it has attracted a good reputation (whilst being a fraction of Palmer’s price).
According to Patrick Moulin with the acquisition of D’Arche, La Lagune has recovered land that historically belonged to its estate in 1855. The earliest documented owners of La Lagune were the Seguineau family who built the chartreuse style chateau that now stands there in 1715.
During the early 20th century the chateau deteriorated under various different owners and nearly disappeared. However in 1958 Georges Brunet, an agricultural engineer, bought the estate. Brunet expanded the vineyards by buying a neighbouring plot named Petit La Lagune, replanted the vineyards and constructed a modern winery.
In 1961 La Lagune was sold to René Chayoux of Champagne Ayala, who invested heavily in the estate. The chateau was restored, and the chai was installed with state of the art equipment. 1964 Madame Boyrie became the first woman manager and cellar master in Bordeaux, when she was appointed to run the wine making at the chateau.
Today the estate is in the ownership of the Frey family, who acquired Champagne Ayala in 2000, subsequently selling the Champagne house to Bollinger in order to fund their acquisition of the Rhône négociant firm Jaboulet. Caroline Frey is one of the youngest winemakers – male or female – to take over a classed growth at the age of 26 in 2006. Caroline has introduced horse power to plough the best parcels of land – not surprisingly, as Caroline was a champion member of France’s competitive horse jumping team until the age of 22.
The wines of La Lagune are amongst the stars of the Haut Medoc and there are many who rate the chateau as having the quality that befits a Second Growth rather than a Third. La Lagune has an unusually high percentage of Petit Verdot in the vineyards (10%) and although I have seen no confirmation, as yet, I suspect that Chateau d’Arche will be absorbed into La Lagune rather than remain a separate entity.