Château Marquis de Terme
I watched bemused as the military-green tank lurched around the corner in front of Château Marquis de Terme and advanced towards me. Or at least it initially looked like a tank; as it neared me I could see its true identity; it was in fact an aging Volkswagen Polo, its military appearance the result of a quick coat of green paint and the addition of a turret atop the roof, complete with a long gun barrel, all constructed from cardboard and painted the same green. So I hope you won’t blame me for thinking it a tank. And for being more than a little bemused.
Trundling to a halt right in front of me, on the edge of the vineyard, a young Frenchman popped his head out of the turret. He was, presumably, accessing it through the sunroof of the car. Turing towards me, and without a word with regard to his mode of transport, he spoke in a cheery voice.
“Pourriez-vous nous aider s’il vous plaît? Nous cherchons une croix”.
I figured the tank commander was looking for the cross at the end of the Rue Montesquieu, which sits just around the corner from Château Marquis de Terme. A very small and simple cross atop a stone pedestal, it sits in the centre of the road at the junction. It’s not that I am an expert in the crosses of viticultural France (now that would be an impressive Mastermind specialist subject); more that I had just driven past it, a few minutes before.
And with that this modern-day Pierre Billotte slid back into the command and control centre of his tank, otherwise known as the passenger seat, and off they went. To this day I have no certainty what they were up to, although I imagine they were strong contenders for the ‘best decorated vehicle’ prize in some sort of Jeune Viticulteurs de Margaux annual treasure hunt. But it is one visit to Château Marquis de Terme that I will certainly never forget.
The origins of Château Marquis de Terme can be traced by to the great Rauzan estate, which began life in 1661 when Pierre des Mesures de Rauzan (died 1692), purchased the seigneurie and all the associated land from Alexandre de Gascq. Under the direction of Pierre de Rauzan the estate went from strength to strength, and by the time of his death his family owned 40 hectares, of which 25 hectares were in Margaux, while the remainder was further north, in Pauillac. Upon his death the vineyards would be divided between his four offspring; his daughter Thérèse took the lands in Pauillac, this being the origin of both Château Pichon-Lalande and Château Pichon-Baron, while the Margaux vineyard was divided between his three sons, who were Jude Jean, Simon and Simon Jude.