Château de Tracy
In researching the histories behind the most famous châteaux of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, it is not unusual to find that just a couple of hundred years ago, prior to the Revolution at the end of the 18th century, many of these estates were in the hands of nobility. This is especially true with the grandest estates of the Médoc of course, where ancient and Medieval celebrities frequently crop up. Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur, widely referred to as the Prince des Vignes is one such character; a frequent presence at the court of Louis XV, he reputedly had stones from his vineyard cut and polished in order to make buttons for his coat. There are bankers (the Rothschilds of Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Mouton-Rothschild, of course), popes (Clément V, of Château Pape-Clement) and royalty (Prince Robert of Luxembourg at Château Haut-Brion, for example). Grand though these histories may be, none are as well documented and as complex as that of Château de Tracy, in the commune of Tracy-sur-Loire, which sits on the banks of France’s grandest river.
There is written evidence that there was viticulture at Château de Tracy as early as the 14th century, although during the centuries that followed it seems to have petered out, and its revival was, considering the estate’s lengthy history, surprisingly recent. This vinous renaissance came in the 1950s, when the estate was under the direction of Comte Alain d’Estutt d’Assay and his spouse, Jacqueline de Tracy. Thus, it could be said that this is when the modern chapter, the true viticultural chapter in Château de Tracy’s history, really begins. Both sides of this union, however, have brought to Château de Tracy their own unique histories; there are no princes or popes, but their stories are no less remarkable for that. On one side there is a documented family history that stretches back, unbroken, to barons living in Laggan, in the Scottish Highlands, in the 14th century. On the other there is a family tree that flirts with celebrity, with peripheral appearances from the Marquis de Lafayette, the celebrated French aristocrat and military officer, and the most famous physicist of all, Sir Isaac Newton.
Of course, much of this history long precedes the time when vines were planted, or rather replanted, at Château de Tracy (pictured above). Nevertheless, I have explored these stories as fully as I can manage. If it is purely the vines and the wines that interests you, fast-forward to pages four and five of this profile. But if you wish to look beyond what is in the glass, continue on as I explore the lengthy and noble history of this estate. I begin first with the ancestors of the current proprietor, Comte Henry d’Estutt d’Assay, in 14th-century Scotland.