Discovering Château Prieuré Lichine

Château Prieuré Lichine lies north of the village of Cantenac near the town of Margaux and is a Fourth Growth Grand Cru Classé neighbouring the Second Growths Châteaux Brane Cantenac and Palmer.

The château has ancient roots and was originally a Priory. The Priory of Saint-Didier de Cantenac was founded by the Saint Augustin canons of the Abbey of Vertheuil around the year 1000.

The monks cultivated grapes for service at dinner and at religious ceremonies and in 1399 there was an uproar as English sailors wrecked the vines as they sailed up the Gironde estuary by breaking off the young fruit bearing shoots to use as firewood!

In 1444, the wines produced at the Priory were considered to be of such quality that they were taxed at the same rate as the wines of Hermitage and Clos de Vougeot.  The chais at Prieuré still contain part of the Priory’s original structure dating from the 16th century.

The château was sold to Alexis Lichine in 1951. Nick named “the Pope of Wine” Lichine was an authority on wine, an entrepreneur, and an author – he wrote the Guide to the Wines and Vineyards of France and On The Wine Routes of France. He also played a key role in promoting the labelling of wine by its grape variety in the 1940s.

Back then New World wines were labelled after the type of wine they resembled so full bodied reds were called “Burgundy” and crisp whites were called “Chablis”.

Lichine set about restoring Château Prieuré Lichine, improving the vineyards, modernising the vinification techniques and rebuilding the ancient Priory. Lichine built the vineyards up to 143 acres by purchasing land from the neighbouring châteaux. His shipping organization, Lichine & Cie. in Margaux became a leading exporter of first quality wines and he also became part owner and manager of Château Lascombes.

Lichine revolutionised his château in more ways than one. In the 50s châteaux were often owned by absentee landlords with managers in place overseeing the vineyards in their stead.

Lichine was different – Prieuré Lichine was always a home and a hive of activity. He was one of the first to throw open his château doors to visitors and offer wines for tasting. Visitors could also wander round the château itself and in this way Lichine demystified wine making.

Lichine died in 1989 and now his château is owned by the Ballande Group but despite his château being sold, Lichine will forever be a part of it.

Thanks to a Government dispensation, he was buried on a little knoll in the centre of the vineyards – the perfect place for such an enlightened man who did so much for the world of wine.

The vineyards ofChâteau Prieuré Lichinecover 170 acres and the grapes planted are 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Château Prieuré Lichine has ahigh Merlot content which gives the wine suppleness and a smooth mouth feel.

The wine has flavours of blackcurrant, cranberry and liquorice. It is medium bodied with mineral and floral notes, is a deep purple in colour and is a dense, well balanced, rounded wine.

The wine ages well and can be kept up to 15 years or more.

PrieuréLichine is excellent with rich beef dishes such as daube of beef or beef wellington, game pies, duck a l’orange, coq au vin and cheeses.

Jancis Robinson MW OBE –

Briary and full and sleek and with a great mouthful of fresh fruit which completely disguises the fine tannins until the very, very end. Bravo! Real complete wine that expresses the vintage and commune.

Graceful. Very clean. Whisks over the palate – and actually you could probably drink this over a very long period and enjoy it. 2011-21 17.5/20

To me this wine has more to offer than many other Margaux wines at its price. It is rich and full with pure fresh cassis showing on the palate with a long and a very attractive finish. Overall a very nice wine and for those who enjoy wines from Margaux they will really appreciate this one!.

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