Château Larcis Ducasse 1er Grand Cru Classé (B), St-Emilion
Château Larcis Ducasse, situated on the Right Bank of the Gironde, is ranked 1er Grand Cru Classé B in the 2012 Classification of Saint-Émilion wine.
Long before there was a Château Larcis Ducasse, vines were tended on the land by the Romans. Through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the wine was highly regarded and premiums were paid even then. The most recent chapter in the story of Château Larcis Ducasse begins in the late 19th century when Henri Raba purchased the vineyard. Since then, ownership has passed through several generations and today is in the control of the Gratiot Alphandéry family.
While the underlying quality and potential remained, the Château had somewhat fallen out of favour in the latter part of the 20th century. Since 2002, there has been something of a reversal of fortunes with the winery being under the management of Nicolas Thienpont. After 10 years under his watchful eye, the Château was promoted to 1er Grand Cru Classé B in the 2012 Saint-Émilion classification.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.