The earliest records concerning Château Coufran appear at the end of the 18th century, when the estate was sold by the proprietors, the Brane family. The landlord was none other than Baron Hector de Brane (1746 – 1835), who owned an impressive vineyard portfolio including Château Brane-Mouton, today better known as Château Mouton-Rothschild. In 1791 Baron Hector had fled to Spain, more to escape angry creditors than the Revolution; following his return he was imprisoned, and considering his noble blood and his wealth, as evinced by the size of his estate, he was lucky to escape the guillotine. He was instead jailed for two years, after which he was released, to endure instead the heavy taxation of the new post-Revolution regime.
In 1795 Baron Hector married, and his new wife was Laure de Fumel (1775 – 1813), the wealthy proprietor of Château Margaux. Her wealth came from her uncle, the Comte de Fumel, who had been executed by guillotine in 1794. At about this time Baron Hector and Laure sold their land at Coufran, the buyer being Jean-Valère Cabarrus (1758 – 1829), an interesting character who seems to have worn many different hats. He was a local négociant and shipping magnate who also assumed the presidency of the Chamber of Commerce in Bordeaux, and he was apparently Napoleon’s finance minister for Spain. To wine drinkers, however, Cabarrus is perhaps best known for ordering the construction of the tower at Château Lagrange, which he acquired around this time, also from the Brane family.
The estate at Coufran was subsequently passed to Adolphe Cabarrus (1795 – 1862), presumably Jean-Valère’s son. From Adolphe the land then came to Comte Marie Louis Henri de Verthamon (1833 – 1870), a professional soldier. He must have acquired the vineyard some time before 1850 as he was listed as the estate’s proprietor in the first edition of Cocks et Féret, published that year. There was already active viticulture on the domaine, with an average 65 tonneaux of wine per annum leaving the cellar door, although according to Wilhelm Franck writing in Traité sur les vins du Médoc (third edition, Chaumas, 1853) the figure was much higher, somewhere between 100 and 110 tonneaux per annum. By 1868 this was up to 130 to 150 tonneaux per annum. Whatever the exact amount the estate was clearly prosperous, and Henri de Verthamon is generally credited with having built the fine château on the estate (pictured above).
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