In 1476, the parish of Léognan was almost entirely forest, overrun by savage wolf-packs, save for a spot baptized "La Lobeyra" (La Louvière), where men had hacked out a vast clearing and planted the first vines. In those days, production was small, a few dozen barrels at most, but the wine already possessed a reputation for quality. The Guilloche family, of bourgeois origins, having entered th... Read more
In 1476, the parish of Léognan was almost entirely forest, overrun by savage wolf-packs, save for a spot baptized "La Lobeyra" (La Louvière), where men had hacked out a vast clearing and planted the first vines. In those days, production was small, a few dozen barrels at most, but the wine already possessed a reputation for quality. The Guilloche family, of bourgeois origins, having entered the peerage as holders of royal office, had owned the land since 1398. For more than two centuries, they were also deeply involved in Bordeaux parliamentary politics.
From 1510 to 1550, Pierre de Guilloche, and later his son Jean, instigated a vast program of land acquisition, both purchasing and exchanging a large number of plots. This massive consolidation around La Louvière, then a modest turreted manor-house, was the first step toward the creation of the magnificent estate we know today.
In the first half of the 16th century, many Bordeaux statesmen, like the de Guilloches, were establishing what were to become today's Grands Crus. However, the de Guilloches were Protestants, and in the years around 1572 they suffered several waves of persecution, during which their estates at La Louvière were regularly pillaged.
In 1618, the heiress to the de Guilloche lands, the Lady of Roquetaillade, sold La Louvière to Arnaud de Gascq, commendatory abbot of the Abbey of Saint-Ferme. However, unable to carry out the necessary restoration work, the abbot donated it in 1620 to the Carthusian Order of Notre Dame de Miséricorde in Bordeaux, abandoning the work of restoring the estate and its lands to the monks. Their rigorous, highly meticulous management brought rapid results, and La Louvière was soon once again a working estate.
As the early years of the 17th century were particularly favorable to the development of wine-making, the monks devoted considerable attention to the vineyards. In the cellars at La Louvière, coopers and master vintners labored day and night to produce the fine reds and whites particularly prized by the wine-merchants of Picardy, England and Flanders. Every year, dozens of barrels of La Louvière red took ship for England, while the whites headed for Northern Europe. In the 18th century, the Carthusians' wines were heralded as "the most excellent in all of the kingdom."
Lords of La Louvière for almost two hundred years, the Carthusians lost their title to the lands during the Revolution, when, in November 1789, the Assemblée Nationale confiscated Church property. Declared "property of the Nation", the estate, then some forty hectares of vineyard, was sold at auction in the spring of 1791 to a Bordeaux wine-merchant, Jean-Baptiste Mareilhac. Head of one of Bordeaux' most prosperous firms, Jean-Baptiste was familiar with the wines of La Louvière, some of which he already exported to Saint-Petersburg, and therefore considered the estate an excellent investment.
But there was one cloud on the horizon: the lack of a house worthy of his young bride, Jeanne-Emilie. To remedy this, he called on a well-known architect, François Lhôte, a former pupil of Victor Louis, creator of the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux. The old house with its medieval remains was swept away, and in its place he built a magnificent example of neo-classical architecture. The interior design was entrusted to a friend, the talented Flemish painter François-Louis Lonsing. Lonsing painted the grisailles and the ceiling of the rotunda salon on the theme of Psyche's Lovers, but was poisoned by toxic pigments in the paint and died at La Louvière in the spring of 1799.
The new building aroused widespread admiration. Indeed, in 1946, the site was entered on the Roster of Historical Monuments, and listed in 1991.
The Mareilhac family owned the estates for the greater part of the 19th century. Jean Baptiste's grandson, Alfred, led the vineyards to new heights among the best-kept of the Department, even winning a Gold Medal awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1869.
In 1911, a Parisian, Alfred Bertrand-Taquet, part-owner of the "Revue Vinicole", acquired the estate, which he ran until 1944. Elected Mayor of Léognan in 1919, he remained in office until the outbreak of the Second World War. Victim of its absentee landlords, La Louvière was then to lie fallow for over fifteen years.
Finally, in 1965, André Lurton, a grower from the village of Grézillac, in the Entre-deux-Mers, fell in love with La Louvière and purchased the estate. In the years that followed, the chateau was renovated and the vineyard replanted, gradually restoring the estate to its former glory… Read less