Chateau Lagrange has had a 'roller-coaster' history. It has
been known since the early 1600s and by 1824 was producing approximately
12,000 cases of wine each year. In 1842, the current owner was Count
Duchatel who had been a minister in the French court. The Count
increased the size of Chateau Lagrange as well as the production
levels. Total production increased by 250% from the 1824 numbers.
To the Count's credit, as the quantity increased, the quality improved.
Chateau Lagrange was recognized at the time as one of the most progressive
and technologically advanced properties in the Medoc. A significant
improvement came from his decision to install drainage pipes in
many areas of the Chateau's vineyards. The drainage project had
a significant impact on the quality of the grapes that the property
produced. Count Duchatel's efforts were rewarded when Chateau Lagrange
was accorded a ranking as a 3rd Growth in the 1855 Classification
of the Medoc.
Unfortunately, the next 125 years marked a period of decline in
presige, quality and size for Chateau Lagrange. There were many
owners in that period and none of them were able to reverse the
march to mediocrity. During the time up until 1983, the loss of
quality caused loss of income and required the sale of outlying
vineyard plots. The balance of grape variety plantings became very
bad by the end of this time. The general conditions in the vineyards,
the winemaking facilities and living quarters became so poor that
only a massive effort could revive this very sick Chateau.
In 1983, Chateau Lagrange was purchased by Suntory of Japan. As
the largest drinks conglomerate in Japan, Suntory had the resources
to bring Lagrange back to the level of quality that it was capable
of producing. The revitalization of the property was put in the
hands of Marcel Ducasse. During the decade following the purchase
of the chateau by Suntory, Ducasse replanted most of the vineyards,
replaced all the barrels, repaired or rebuilt the buildings on the
property, brought the winemaking equipment and techniques up to
modern standards and created a new wine 'style' for Chateau Lagrange.
An entirely new winery was built and ready for the 1985 vintage.
Given that so many of the vineyards were replanted, the wines of
the early 21st century continue to improve and gain complexity as
the vines mature.
The rejuvinated Chateau Lagrange has a classic Medoc style that
is continuing to evolve as the vines mature. The wines are full
and rich with a strong tannic structure and accents of cherry, black
currants and cedar. The wines are accessible in thier youth but
the influence of the oak barrels may seem a bit heavy until the
wines have a few years of age. Depending on the vintage, you are
best advised to wait from 8 to 15 years before consuming these wines
(assuming proper storage).