Château Magrez Fombrauge
It is perhaps too easy to think of Bordeaux as a static and unchanging entity. There will always be a Château Latour, a Château Ausone, a Château d’Yquem and a Château Haut-Brion, even if the latter seems constantly under threat from the advance of the suburban jungle. The appointment of a new manager or technical director is often the most exciting news to come out of the region for months at a time.
Of course, this is rather a blinkered view. While it is today very unlikely that we will see more of the great divisions that once carved up expansive domaines to create Château Pichon-Baron and Château Pichon-Lalande, the trio of Léoville estates or Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Rauzan-Gassies, on occasion new domaines do appear or, sadly, disappear. While from time to time we might see this on the left bank (usually as giant cru classé estates absorb their microscopic cru bourgeois neighbours), over the past decade St Emilion seems to have been particularly afflicted by absorption or break-up fever.
There are any number of examples. The Moueix property of Château La Tour du Pin Figeac (reborn as Château La Tour du Pin) flickered bright for a few vintages (five to be precise), then it was extinguished, a tiny part absorbed into the vineyard of Château Cheval Blanc, the rest replanted to white. Château Faugères gave birth to Péby-Faugères, a more successful and long-lived creation. There are other examples, but the one I shall focus on here is Château Magrez Fombrauge. Its story begins with Château Fombrauge, a full history of which I present in the relevant profile. For the purposes of this profile, however, I pick up the story with the acquisition of this estate by Bernard Magrez, as the 20th century drew to a close.