Château Quinault L’Enclos
Although it seems de rigueur in St Emilion to claim Gallo-Roman origins, and it is entirely plausible that there were vines planted here two millennia ago, I am not at all sure that there is any real evidence for such a statement to be made in the case of Château Quinault L’Enclos. In truth, I think it would be more honest to say the origins of this estate, known until just a few years ago as Château Quinault, are uncertain. I presume that Quinault was the name of a long-forgotten proprietor; it is not a common surname in France, and it has no particular association with Bordeaux, during the last century cropping up most frequently in Deux-Sèvres (south of the Anjou vineyards), Allier (again, more the Loire Valley than Bordeaux) and Seine-et-Marne. Nevertheless it seems reasonable to conclude that a vigneron named Quinault probably once owned this land. Just to the northwest of the vineyards runs the Boulevard de Quinault, another nod to this ancien propriétaire. But the identity of the individual concerned otherwise remains a mystery.
The Aubert Era
It is not really until the latter years of the 18th century that we begin to have some idea of the domaine’s history. At this time the land here was in the possession of Jean Aubert (1775 – 1857), and subsequently it came into the hands of Jean-Baptiste Aubert (1807 – 1876), presumably his son. Despite their work here the property is not listed in the very earliest editions of the Bordeaux bible Cocks et Féret, remaining hidden until its first appearance in the 1874 edition. At this time the vineyard was a mix of not only Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but also Malbec.
The property remained in the hands of the Aubert family through to the early years of the 20th century, over one hundred years of ownership. Evidence that this was so largely comes from Cocks et Féret, continuing with the 1883 edition when the estate was listed in the Sables section among a list of largely unfamiliar names. It was still in the hands of a Monsieur Aubert, presumably the son of Jean-Baptiste, and therefore at least the third generation of the family to take the reins. At this time, the production amounted to an average of 20 tonneaux per annum. There was no change in the 1886 edition, with production holding steady and subsequently increasing, suggesting the estate escaped the blight of phylloxera. By the time the 1908 Cocks et Féret was published the production had rocketed to 75 tonneaux per annum, an almost four-fold increase on the figures from a decade or two before. This must reflect new post-phylloxera planting, or the acquisition of new vineyards.