Wines appellation Pessac-Leognan

The Château

A unique viticultural past

The Chateau de France was built on the foundations of an ancient manor house underneath which still remains its original arched cellars. The cellars and the house date to the end of the 17th century and were contructed by Philippe Decoud.

From feudal holding of Gardère to French heritage ?

The property has retained the name of the foundations on which it was built. It is likely that the lands surrounding the property belonged to the holding of Gardère. Prior to 1681, the property which today makes up the Chateau de France was a collection of small parcels of land whcih were joined to gether in the 16th century by Marceau Dubasque and Jean de Latreilles. This is in fact detailed in documents dating to 1648 in which it is stated that the said Marceau Dubasque bought these lands from André Dejean, barrel maker.

Taffard, Advisor to the Guyenne Parliament, developped the vineyards of Chateau de Francein the 18th century – just when the idea of the Grand Cru quality was beginning to take shape. The Pontacs, a family involved in politics in Haut-Brion, followed him in this task, accounting for the Chateau’s expension of territory in Graves to the south-west of Bordeaux in the 18th century.

Recognition in the 19th century

Jean-Henri Lacoste, a businessman involved in furniture industry, owned and managed the property for 32 years. It was he, in fact who created Chateau de France as it is today. Following its purchase in 1862, he spread the word about the 25 hectare property, as yet unknown as Chateau de France, amongst buyers of quality vintages including Feret, who included the property in his later works of the vineyards in Bordeaux. J.H. Lacoste also mentioned the property in his works, doing it a great deal of justice by including in it the surrounding properties of Noaillac belonging then to the Griffon family, and later to the Fieuzals and Haut Gardères !.

Restructuring Chateau de France

The 19th century also saw the property transformed as seemed to be the trend amongst the owners of manor houses and vineyards. With these extra efforts and refurbishments, several of the properties in the area began to be refered to as « Chateau ». Jean-Henri Lacoste affected a modest change to the Chateau de France, replacing its wings with independent pavillions and adding a second floor to the existing structure.

As with the majority of the Grand Cru « Chateaux » of Graves, the property remained slightly outside the traditionally recognised viticultural sector of Bordeaux. In the case of Chateau de France, this lasted from 1920 to 1975.

Bernard Thomassin

A patient man of the land

Although Bernard Thomassin was not born in Bordeaux, he has become as « Bordelais » as its native people. The Thomassin family, in fact, have a renown professional history in the area surrounding Paris in the cultivation of beetroots for distillation. In 1985 the distillation plant closed down due largely to the changes in the reglamentations of alcohol production and consumption in France. The result was the move of the family to Bordeaux.

This adventure actually began years prior, in 1971, when Bernard Thomassin was offered the opportunity to buy the property without having seen it. All he knew was that the property was in a state of neglect and that he would practically have to start buliling from scratch. In 1986, Enjalbert refered to the property in his book entitled « Histoire de la Vigne et du Vin » saying : [the lands alone of Chateau de France will allow the property to regain the glory that belonged to it in the 19th century, thereby entitling it to carry its rightful name in a manner that does it justice.

Bernard Thomassin acted as a visionary in every sense as, at the time that he invested in Chateau de France, the only recognised controlled production area was that of Graves. Commerce and investment in wines from other zones was relatively scarce. It was only later on that Pessac-Léognan achieved " appellation " status.

What started as an adventure of sorts turned out to be a real passion for Bernard Thomassin made it a unique objective to restore Chateau de France and to give its wines the quality for which they are currently recognised.

Benard Thomassin invested with exonerable patience and wisdom in order to achieve his objective of creating a « grand vin ». He did this first by investing in replanting the vineyard, then by improving and restoring the winemaking facilities and finally by rebuilding the offices and reception areas.

Arnaud Thomassin

Perfectionism

Brought up in the Paris area at the time the family lived there, Arnaud Thomassin is proud of his heritage.

Arnaud Thomassin studied for a BTS in oenology, after which he has run Chateau de France with his father. Since assuming his position in 1996, Arnaud has continued along the lines of Bernard Thomassin so that his viticultural, vinicultural and investment decisions maintain the company’s objectives. In his own words : " When I began to work at the winery, I paid particular attention to the vineyards as it is these which first have an effect on the wines we produce at Chateau de France."

Arnaud Thomassin travels extensively for Chateau de France both within France and abroad. He enjoys especially the close contacts he has developped with the winery’s network of distributors.