Clos du Marquis
The vast majority of the vineyards in St Julien are today in the hands of the proprietors of the eleven classed growths, leaving little room for smaller cru bourgeois properties and family-run domaines. Even many of the unclassified growths, including Château Moulin Riche and Château Lalande-Borie among others, at first glance little beacons of small-scale independence, are in fact in the ownership of the classified growths, in the case of the two mentioned the Cuvelier family of Château Léoville-Poyferré and the Borie family of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou.
Of all these unclassified labels surely the best known is Clos du Marquis. It is a wine derived from a certain section of the vineyards owned by the Delon family, although it is not unknown for even Bordeaux-knowledgeable scribes to mistake it for the second wine of Château Léoville-Las-Cases. After all, we would expect a leading cru classé château such as Château Léoville-Las-Cases to have a second wine and it was only natural that many would assume this was the role of Clos du Marquis, the grand vin’s eternal companion. Indeed, when it started out in life in the early 20th century it was a second wine, and it was only during the 1980s its raison d’être shifted to being a site-specific cuvée, so the misunderstanding is perhaps understandable. All the same, I can only imagine that the appearance in the 2007 vintage of Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases, a genuine second wine, turned the world upside-down for this misinformed multitude.
Perhaps bolstered by the appearance of Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases in 2007, and then by its own second wine La Petite Marquise du Clos du Marquis in the 2015 vintage, today it seems more widely acknowledged that Clos du Marquis originates from a separate and distinct terroir, and thus to consider it as a second wine is certainly no longer appropriate. For this reason I have decided to provide it with a separate profile here, distinct from my profile of Château Léoville-Las-Cases.