The commune of Arcins sits just to the north of the Margaux appellation, separated from the vineyards of Château Palmer, Château Margaux and Château Labégorce by the Estey de Tayac, a vital drainage channel which carries groundwater away from the gravel beds of the Médoc peninsula and into the Gironde. It is undoubtedly a wine village, the road that traverses it flanked on both sides by the stone walls of vat rooms barrel cellars. The local wines are no doubt popular with the patrons of Le Lion d’Or, the bistro which enjoys a prominent roadside position near the heart of the village, drawing in passing buyers, négociants and wine hacks with the promise of lapin à la moutarde and rognons de veau.
Close to this well-known bistro is the rather grand Château d’Arcins, a château with an imposing roadside position which, with its stone walls and cast iron railings, projects a certain sense of grandeur. For many years it overshadowed its neighbour, the less grand Château Arnauld, which is set well back from the road and out of sight, its entrance low-key and easily overlooked. The wines were not a significant draw either. In recent years, however, all this has changed. There is now no mistaking the sculpted and landscaped entrance to Château Arnauld, improvements which reflect a significant step up in the quality of the wines. This is now an estate we should know about.
It seems that the vineyard has truly ancient origins, vines having been planted around Arcins as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. The modern-day village was at this time the site of a Templar priory, the Commanderie of Saint Jean de Jerusalem d’Arcins, its inhabitants taking in pilgrims who were en route to Santiago de Compostela. A good supply of wine was surely essential, not only for their religious ceremonies but as a source of income, the thirsty and road-weary travellers providing an ever-renewing market. Sadly, the old Templar church which once stood here was demolished in 1820, so no hard evidence of this Templar outpost remains.