Château Beauséjour: The Division

Pierre-Paulin Ducarpe is a very significant figure in the history of Château Beauséjour, because it was he that divided the estate into the two halves that exist today, having taken the carving knife to the Beauséjour vineyards in 1869. This seems to have been prompted by the marriage of his son, on June 8th that year. Even so his daughter seems to have taken on the more impressive part of the domaine; Louise Caroline Ducarpe (some sources say she was named Madeleine Ducarpe) received half of the vineyard plus the château and associated buildings. Caroline (as it seems she was known) had taken the name Duffau-Lagarrosse, having married Doctor Calixte Duffau-Lagarosse, and thus Château Beauséjour-Duffau-Lagarosse was born. Pierre-Paulin’s son, Léopold Ducarpe (born 1839), took the other half, and it was this vineyard that was the nascent Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, although at the time it was known as Château Beauséjour-Ducarpe.

Château Beauséjour

In the ensuing years both halves of the Ducarpe family established independent reputations for their two new estates. Looking specifically at the half that remained with Louise Caroline, the 1883 Cocks et Féret lists this fourth among the premiers crus, directly behind Château Bel-Air, Château Ausone and her brother’s portion of the vineyard, which were listed first, second and third respectively. Both estates were, at this time, turning out 18 tonneaux of wine per annum; presumably each were still working with half the original estate, somewhere between 7 and 8 hectares apiece. Perhaps only naturally, this declined in the ensuing years as phylloxera took hold, production falling to 15 tonneaux on both estates in 1886, but by 1908 this had recovered, and was now up to 20 tonneaux per annum. Despite the two estates seemingly being on an equal footing, however, it is clear that the authors held a preference for Léopold’s section (that which would be Château Beau-Séjour Bécot), as it was the subject of a half-page missive including a note on all the medals the wines had won, rather than Louise Caroline’s section, which did not receive such handsome treatment. This preference was carried right through to the 1920s, when in 1922 the authors of Cocks et Féret once again ranked Louise Caroline’s portion lower that Léopold’s.

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