Château de Pressac
Now and again I come across a hidden gem in Bordeaux, and in more recent years when I have done so it has tended to be in St Emilion that I made the discovery. Like many such ‘hidden’ gems, Château de Pressac can only be described as hiding in plain sight. The château occupies a prominent position on the edge of the limestone plateau, looking down onto the plain below. The very solid rectangular tower that stands proud at one corner is a truly imposing structure which, in reality, is difficult to overlook.
Château de Pressac is notable for many reasons, not least its striking position and appearance. This is the case even though the château today is a pale imitation of what it once was, as during the Medieval period this commanding fortified residence boasted 27 towers. It is also a historically significant château, because it was here in 1453 that the victorious French watched their English opponents sign away their claim to the region after their defeat at the Battle of Castillon. The armistice marked the end of the Hundred Years’ War and saw all Bordeaux return to French rule after three hundred years under the English yoke. This estate thus witnessed a turning point in French history, one that defined the shape of the nation as it exists today. No other château in the region can make such a claim.
It is not just historians that will find something to pique their interest at Château de Pressac though. The wine is also of particularly good quality, thanks to a modern-day revitalisation. Towards the end of the 20th century the estate lay in a state of near-dereliction, with many of the better plots of vineyards (which are always the hardest to work, of course) overgrown not with a few weeds but with trees. The estate needed a huge injection of enthusiasm and investment, and it received both following the arrival of the current proprietor, Jean-François Quenin, in 1997. This profile explores the story and revitalisation of this estate in full. I start with some history; to jump straight to the modern-day, head to page three, or to pages four and five for details of the vineyards and winemaking.