Château Lascombes, 1928 – 2011

The appellation of Margaux is rich in classed-growth properties, and is one of only two appellations on the Médoc peninsula which can boast a premier grand cru classé estate (the other being Pauillac, of course). Château Margaux leads a cohort of 21 classified growths, the appellation accounting for approximately one-third of all the properties currently listed in the 1855 classification.

Margaux also arguably has more properties ranked as deuxième grand cru classé than any other Médoc appellation, or at least it did historically. When the 1855 classification was drawn up there were just three such estates in St Julien (as the great vineyard of Château Léoville had not at that time been divided), but there were four properties in Margaux. These were (sticking with their names as used in 1855) Château Brane, Château Lascombe (pictured below), Château Vivens-Durfort and Château Rauzan, and even at this stage it was noted that the last of this quartet was shared between two owners, a Monsieur Ségla and a Monsieur Gassies, and was clearly ripe for division.

Château Lascombes, 1928 - 2011

These second-growth châteaux have long interested me, not least because it could be argued that, despite their illustrious status, a number of them have underperformed in the past. Controversy has also circled the group, particularly Château Lascombes. After this property was sold in 2001 the new owners fired the manager, and new Parker-friendly faces were drafted in. They were led by Alain Raynaud, who oversaw the estate’s rebirth, along with manager Dominique Befve, and Michel Rolland who came on board as a consultant, one of a small number of consultancies he maintained on the left bank.

While opinions on the wines of this new era vary, there can be no doubt that the estate has seen a significant revitalisation. This is evidenced by the construction of a new winemaking facility, completed in time for the 2021 vintage. Standing directly behind the château, these capacious new cellars are filled with 44 double-walled and temperature-regulated stainless steel vats, allowing for a parcel-by-parcel approach during the vinification. It was a shame that La Dame Nature did not bless the team with a more favourable inaugural vintage, 2021 having been a very challenging year, nevertheless it seems clear that this is a major step forward for Dominique Befve and his team.

To inaugurate the new cellars Dominique and his team invited me to the estate to taste a few vintages over dinner. Naturally I obliged, and I report on these wines here. The oldest wine on the night hailed from the lauded 1928 vintage, and so I begin my report on these wines with the Ginestet family, proprietors during the early years of the 20th century. I could recount the estate’s earlier history, of course, but the history from its origins through to modern-day is fully documented in my profile of the property.

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