Château de Suronde
Château de Suronde is one of the longest-established estates on the Quarts de Chaume appellation, alongside equally noble Château Belle-Rive and Château de L’Écharderie. These grand estates appeared when the slopes of this prestigious vineyards were first planted, long before the rules and regulations that define the Quarts de Chaume appellation were signed off in 1954.
The exact origins of the estate seem quite sketchy, but I know that during the early years of the 20th century the château and vineyards here were in the hands of Marcel and Roger Breyer. As described above their tenure predated the creation of the Quarts de Chaume appellation, and they thus bottled and sold their wines as Anjou, under the name of Château de Suronde, and Clos des Quarts de Chaume. The Breyer brothers were very significant proprietors in the region, although sadly I have been unable to uncover much information about them. Documents from the era, including advertising posters and even postcards, tell us that they owned not only Château de Suronde but were also responsible for harvesting and vinifying the fruit from Château Belle-Rive on behalf of its proprietor Louis Mignot. They were also the proprietors of Château de Plaisance, which sits just above the Quarts de Chaume vineyards, in Chaume, so they were apparently active and successful.
The Laffourcade Era
During the decades that followed Château de Suronde passed through the hands of several notable proprietors. The first was André Laffourcade, who purchased it 1958, after which he went on to buy nearby Château de L’Écharderie, in 1961. Both properties first came into the possession of André’s son Pascal Laffourcade, who held on to them until the 1990s, when he decided to sell Château de Suronde and focus solely on Château de L’Écharderie, which at the time remained in the hands of the Laffourcade family (although much of the vineyard was sold in 2018 to Domaine Belargus).
The buyer was a name which has since come to be closely associated with the property, none other than Francis Poirel, who crops up in a number of other profiles on this site. Although born into a winemaking family in the little-known Côtes de Toul appellation (a long-lost vineyard between Champagne and Alsace), Francis Poirel left to develop a more maritime career. During the 1990s was working for the European Union on deep-sea fishing projects, but he was ready to quit and return to wine, and preferably to own his own vineyards. His quest lead him, like so many vignerons just starting out, to the Loire Valley, perhaps influenced by friends made along the way, who include among their number Jo Pithon, Philippe Alliet and Charles Joguet. He studied in Blanquefort, in Bordeaux, and afterwards began the hunt for a domaine. After one-and-a-half years of searching he found an unloved estate in Quarts de Chaume; it was none other than Château de Suronde, which under the direction of the Laffourcade family seems to have been in decline. He bought the estate in 1995.