Château SiauracThree Centuries of History
The estate is located on the plateau of Néac, which is a continuation of the famous plateau of Pomerol, and its vineyard is in a single, contiguous plot. It is the largest estate of the appellation and is comprised of 46 hectares of planted vine, a nineteenth-century château and 15 hectares of romantic rolling parkland, home to centuries-old trees, an orangery and eighteenth-century landscaped woods. Château Siaurac is one of the most iconic estates of its appellation. Indeed, as remarked upon in Férét’s 1893 edition of Bordeaux et ses vins: “Château Siaurac is only separated by the first growths of Pomerol by a small trickle of water called the Barbane.”
From the bookkeeping records kept by Etienne Rabion from 1753 until 1759 we know that the winegrowing origins of Siaurac go back to the eighteenth century. “Etienne Rabion sold 6 casks of red wine and 4 of white wine from the Domaine of Siorac to Mr. Lacaze, eldest son of a wine merchant in Libourne”. Pierre Brisson, a Libourne notary and Saint-Emilion town councillor bought the estate in 1832. When his son, Benjamin Brisson, inherited the estate and married Elise Chaperon, daughter of a local wine merchant and Commercial Court President Joseph Chaperon, the Siaurac estate was mentioned in their marriage contract. Their only son, Joseph, was town councillor then Mayor of Néac and was also elected Member of Parliament for the Gironde region in 1902. He managed the Siaurac holdings and spent 50 years of his life fighting for recognition of the quality of wines from Néac. President of the Winegrower’s Association from 1919, he tried to merge the appellation of Néac with that of Pomerol. He married Marthe Boiteau, the daughter of a Cognac merchant in 1919.
Their daughter Madeleine married Louis Guichard, son of Edmond Baron Guichard, a graduate of France’s prestigious university Ecole Polytechnique. He pursued a career as a maritime and naval construction engineer and became director of the Saint Nazaire shipyard. Their son Oliver inherited the land and vineyards in 1978 and was a driving force behind the creation of the Baillis de Lalande, a brotherhood which met for the first time at Siaurac in 1985. From 2004 Paul Goldschmidt and Aline Guichard managed the estate.
Château SiauracThree Centuries of History
In 2014 Artémis Domaines became co-manager of Château Siaurac and used the group’s experience to further enhance the standing of this historic estate. The turning point came with the technical management agreement: Pénélope Godefroy joined the team from Château Latour to become Technical Director and Jean-Claude Berrouet, formerly oenologist at Pétrus, brought his advice and experience from the Right Bank as consultant-oenologist. Furthermore, organic and biodynamic cultivation techniques were introduced to the vineyard and the cellars also underwent renovation work. At the end of 2017, Artémis Domaines, led by Frédéric Engerer, took over management responsibility for the entire estate. Mr. Engerer is also in charge of the other Artémis Domaines estates; Château Latour in Pauillac, Château Le Prieuré in Saint-Emilion, Château Vray Croix de Gay in Pomerol, Château Grillet in the Rhône Valley, Domaine d’Eugénie and Clos de Tart in Burgundy and Eisele Vineyard in Napa Valley, California.
The château is understated yet elegant in style and exhibits many references to the classical architecture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The wings which frame the courtyard and operational buildings are all that that remain from the eighteenth century and are used today for the vat room and barrel cellar. Between 1853 and 1856 Benjamin Brisson modernised the buildings, constructing a rectangular-shaped corps de logis with a square first floor.
The corps de logis on the courtyard-side has five rectangular bays with the three central ones forming an impressive façade. Window frames of the ground floor bays are outlined by a decorative trim and the central French windows are topped by an entablature flanked by two consoles which hold up the cornice. On the roof, dormer windows on both sides open up the central section.
On the garden-side the façade has nine bays and four chimney stacks on the roof. The entrance porch linking the French windows to the central bay is in a horseshoe shape. To complement these architectural changes, Benjamin Brisson also created landscaped gardens. They were designed by LB Fischer, a landscape architect known for his work redesigning the Jardin Public in Bordeaux at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1950 the rooms of the château were renovated.
The gardens at Château Siaurac are on a list of over 300 exceptional gardens of France classified as "Jardins remarquables" by the French Ministry of Culture. The Allée d’honneur (main driveway) goes down a steady slope and creates a sense of perspective as it cuts through the woods. These woods were designed in the eighteenth century (and appear on a map by Pierre de Belleyme in 1766) in the formal French style and are comprised of a series of paths with parterres at regular, symmetrical intervals. The tree range is extensive and includes Common Oak, Northern Red Oak, Lime, Norwegian Maple, Sycamore, Robinia, Hornbeams, Ash, Sweet Chestnut and Plane trees.
The French and English gardens meet at the river which curves and twists like a snake. This serpentine shape is naturalist in style and is a nineteenth-century redesign meant to symbolise a ribbon or the “S” of Siaurac.
Fischer also designed the English Garden and planted it with some extraordinary trees: a 350-year-old Evergreen Oak, 250-year-old Pyramidal English Oak, Virginian Tulip Tree, Cedar, a giant Redwood… From the steps on the château, elegant pathways meander to the grove of trees which marks the garden’s limits and includes species such as Sweetgum, Chestnut, Birch, Bay Tree, Alexandrian Laurel and Box plants. From the entrance porch, the view of the Collegiate Church of Saint Emilion is unsurpassable.