To find this estate we must look to the fringes of the St Emilion plateau, to the north of the town. The land slopes gently downwards here, the famed limestone and clay ultimately giving way to more sandy soils, the region’s most famous names usurped by those perhaps slightly less regal, but surely no less intriguing. Here we find stalwarts of the St Emilion appellation led by Château Larmande and Château Fonroque, as well as Château Cóte de Baleau. And, right next-door, hiding in plain sight, sits Château Laniote.
Château Laniote is an estate with an intriguing history, one that ties it intrinsically to the town and the region. Having been in the possession of the same family for more than two centuries, largely passed down through the maternal line, the current proprietors also own some of St Emilion’s most revered historic monuments. These include the hermitage where Emilion (or Emilian, or indeed Aemilio if you prefer), the 8th-century monk after whom the town is named, is said to have resided. And they also own, close to this hermitage and the town’s famous troglodytic church, some of the town’s catacombs and an impressive 13th-century chapel, the latter of which today graces the Laniote label.
In this profile I provide an account of the history of this estate, as well as an examination of its vineyards and wines.
The story of Château Laniote begins with Pierre Lacoste (1794 – 1862), a local négociant who purchased some land with vines here in 1816, christening his new domaine La Niote, named for the lieu-dit. Presumably his viticultural venture was a success, as during the years that followed the vineyard grew to reach its modern-day size, and in 1844 he built a small château overlooking his vines. A few years later, in 1849, the property came into the hands of Pierre’s daughter, Marie Justine Lacoste (born 1830), who ran it alongside her husband Jacques Rouja (1826 – 1890).