The first known resident of Château Marjosse was a wine merchant called Bernard Chénier, born in 1758, who left the city of Bordeaux to move into the imposing XVIII Century “Chartreuse” with his wife Catherine Clémentine Fiton. According to historical records “Marjosse was a source of happiness for the family”. It was at that time that the first vines were planted, on no less than 56 different parcels – quite a few more than what exists today. The modest “chais”, or winemaking cellar, was adjacent to the beautifully symmetrical stone house and contained big wooden vats for fermenting the must (later lost to a big fire and re-built out of cement).
Jacques Clément, son of the couple, lived at Marjosse with wife Clémentine Vitrac, whose family was also in the wine business (in nearby Libourne). Eventually the couple sold the property and it fell into the hands of the Deleuze family. Wealthy magnate Alban Deleuze was also the director of the Magasins du Louvre in Paris and added a huge extension to the house filled with marble fireplaces and bathroom sinks that came from the Hotel de Crillon (they were removed during big renovations done in the 1940’s). When he passed away the property was inherited by his son Georges, a high-ranking general in the French army. At that time they delegated the winemaking to to the property’s caretakers.
It was only in 1990, once the General was already retired, that he decided to rent out some of the parcels to a young and ambitious winemaker called Pierre Lurton. Raised by his winemaking father Dominic in the neighbouring Château Reynier, Pierre had learned how to tend to vines and to make wine with his father and, later, with his uncles André and Lucien, who hired him to work at Clos Fourtet in Saint-Émilion.
Pierre vinified his first Marjosses entirely by hand and nearly without help, working through many nights. The following year he was hired as manager of the prestigious Château Cheval Blanc, but continued to work on his own property during his off hours. The entire 1991 vintage was lost due to frost, posing immense economic pressure on the budding entrepreneur but he took out some bank loans and forged ahead.
In 1992 Pierre moved into a manager’s house at Château Marjosse with his wife and first child. Over the years he slowly purchased bits and pieces of the property from the Deleuze family, all the while paying them “fermage” fees to harvest and vinify their grapes. In 2000 he built a state-of-the-art cellar more than 180 meters long, containing over 40 cement vats. It took another thirteen years before the Deleuze heirs (brothers François and Michel) reluctantly agreed to sell the remaining parts of the property to Pierre, including the magnificent stone Chartreuse.
In 2014 Pierre began an extensive restoration of the Chartreuse, carefully bringing floors, mouldings and fireplaces back to their original state. It is now his main residence. In 2017 he hired Jean-Marc Domme as winemaker and technical director and opened a new chapter in the winery’s history. In 2017, for the first time, parcels were vinified separately and they began plans to create small-batch cuvées made from the grapes in the most notable parcels, each with its own characteristics and micro-climate. The rest of the story is still being written, as Pierre and Jean-Marc delve deeper and deeper into the subtleties of this magnifcent terroir seeking to capture its essence in liquid form.