The nineteenth century was dedicated to the re-establishment of quality and renown thanks to Pierre-François Guestier, a Bordeaux merchant and mayor of Saint-Julien, and to Armand Heine (cousin of the German poet Heinrich Heine) and his wife, Marie-Amélie Kohn, who restored this vineyard to greatness. Three generations of the Achille-Fould family succeeded each other at Beychevelle over the next century until it was acquired in 1986 by GMF, the French civil servants’ pension fund. In 1989 GMF established a partnership with the Japanese group Suntory to create the company, Grands Millésimes de France, which is the current owner.
Legend has it that ships passing the château lowered their sails to pay homage to the all- powerful Duc d’Épernonhence the name Beychevelle, from the phrase baisse-voile (lower sail), and the origin of the château’s arms.
Château Beychevelle, classified a Fourth Growth in 1855, produces 500 tonneaux of wine with the Saint-Julien AOC. Very delicate, with complex aromas, its wines have won great respect in France and abroad.
Blaye, Côtes de Blayer Premières Côtes de Blaye (A.O.C.)
The origins of the city of Blaye go back to earliest antiquity. Around 25 B.C., the Romans established a fort here to act as a shield for Bordeaux. Later, Blaye became part of the defense system for Bordeaux designed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the marshal in charge of fortifications during the seventeenth century. Today this perfectly preserved citadel is a popular tourist attraction. The region is lush and pleasant. In the south, steep vine-covered slopes overlook the Gironde, while in the north the river is bordered by marshes. On the eastern extremity, the forest seems to be gradually gaining ground.
Most of the vineyards in this region have belonged to the same family for three or four generations, sometimes more. The size of the vineyards is quite variable. Good value for money, Blaye wines are following the lead of neighboring Bourg in finding a respected name for themselves among wine-growing regions.
Because of stricter production conditions, wines with the Premières Côtes de Blaye AOC— including Château Peyrère, Château Mondésir Gazin, and Château l’Escadre are generally better quality than those with the labels Blaye, Blayais, or Côtes de Blaye AOC.
The red wines have an attractive color and pronounced fruitiness, and are supple with a pleasant bouquet. As they age, the color changes to brick and, depending on the grape varieties, aromas of musk or spices develop. Supple and fresh, the white wines are distinctive for the quality and diversity of their aromas.