The story of Bordeaux through the early years of the 20th century is littered with failing châteaux, any suggestion of success always punctuated and tempered by the twin insults of war and economic depression. Towards the end of the century, however, the region was most certainly making an about turn. From St Estèphe down to Sauternes, and in Pomerol and St Emilion, all the major communes saw once-great châteaux returned to their former glory, bolstered in almost every case by outside investment, usually backed by big business although on occasion by independently wealthy individuals. It was a time of great recovery for the region. A time of healing, reassessment, reassertion perhaps.
Now in the early years of the 21st century we see this wind of change sweeping further across Bordeaux, pervading nooks and crannies once rarely explored. This is now not a case of restoring lost grandeur, bringing great but faded names back into the fold, as we have seen with – to choose just a few examples – Château Margaux, Château Pontet-Canet or Château Angélus. What we are seeing today is something different, a recognition that some properties have never really had their turn in the limelight, but that with appropriate investment and attention to detail these long-ignored châteaux could turn out wines of merit, perhaps even wines that excite. If there is one sign that Bordeaux is entering a new golden age, then surely it is the rebirth of estates such as these?
One such property is Château Tronquoy-Lalande, until recently an estate of which you would hear absolutely nothing. In truth its distant past is not quite as ignoble as my introduction suggests; if we delve deeply into its history we can see it was once classified alongside today’s grand cru classé châteaux, and the imposing château and parkland that forms the heart of the domaine hints at wealthy and influential origins. Nevertheless, as the 21st century arrived, this estate needed massive investment and refurbishment if it were to ever lift itself above the general Bordeaux melee. Happily for us drinkers, that is exactly what has happened.