Château Desmirail: Robert Mendelssohn

They would appear to have continued on with the estate for more than two decades, but ultimately they sold it, in 1903, to a German banker named Georg Alexander Robert Mendelssohn (1857 – 1917), who went by the name of Robert. It is often written that he was the nephew of the composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847), but in fact the blood tie between them was a little more tenuous than that. They had a common ancestor, Robert’s great great grandfather Moses Mendelssohn (1729 – 1786), the famed philosopher, who was also Felix Mendelssohn’s grandfather. Technically this makes them first cousins, twice removed (I looked it up), so it is perhaps unsurprising that many authors simply stick to ‘nephew’. Of note (just to make it even more complicated) Robert was also the grandson of Pierre Biarnez (1798 – 1874), the poet quoted on the previous page of this profile, whose daughter Enole Biarnez (1827 – 1889) married into the Mendelssohn family.

Château Desmirail

Sadly, being in German ownership resulted in the property being seized by the French government in 1914, following the outbreak of the Great War. In the 1922 Cocks et Féret (which also tells us production had climbed to 80 tonneaux per annum) there was no proprietor listed (nor any detailed write-up or image), the estate simply described as sous séquestre, indicating it had been confiscated by the state. It was It was sold at auction in 1923, the buyer Martial Michel, who had made his money in the textile industry, more specifically making gloves.

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