Château Cheval Blanc: Origins

Although the origin of the name Cheval Blanc is difficult to elucidate, the history behind more tangible components of the estate are not so reticent. It was in 1832 that the first beginnings of Château Cheval Blanc can be elucidated. The story begins with the proprietor of Château Figeac, Jacquette Aimée de Géres-Vacquey, Comtesse de Carle-Trajet, the widow of André de Carle-Trajet. She had been left with a very extensive estate, one that was spread across 200 hectares of the commune, but she was also fettered by considerable debt, all of which had been graciously passed on by her late husband (how kind!).

Château Cheval Blanc

Although her late husband perhaps deserves most of the blame, the Comtesse herself also seems to have contributed to her dire financial situation. Throughout a period of economic decline and even the Napoleonic Blockade (1806 – 1814), a trade dispute intended to destroy British commerce abroad, she had continued to live an incompatibly lavish lifestyle. And now, even though a debt-laden widow, she wasn’t going to bring this life-long party to a halt. There was of course one simple answer to how she could fund a continued life of luxury, and that was to sell off parts of her expansive estate. Her dominion was therefore gradually whittled down; much of what was sold off was arable land and woodland, but she also relinquished her hold on some prized vineyards with good, gravelly terroirs.

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