Domaine de Lagravière, recognized since time immemorial for its excellent terroir, was purchased at the end of the eighteenth century by the family of Count Hippolyte de Maurès de Malartic. Serving the armies of the Kings of France, this Admiral fought against the English on the many seas of the world, showing special bravery in 1756 during the battle of Quebec.
The estate was then bought in 1850 by Madame Arnaud Ricard, who added the name Malartic to that of Lagravière as a tribute to the former owners.
After land reorganisation and the acquisition of some small plots, the estate took on the form which it was to keep until the 1950s. The Marly family were the last of the Ricard ancestry to run the Château. Of particular note, Jacques Marly was estate manager from 1947 to 1990. Having enjoyed an excellent reputation from the beginning of the nineteenth century, Château Malartic-Lagravière was one of only six properties in Bordeaux to enter the 1953 Graves classification for both its red and white wines.
At the end of 1996, the Château entered a new era with the arrival of the Bonnie family.
Today, the taste for adventure still runs through the veins of those that shape its destiny.After a brief period under the stewardship of champagne maker Laurent-Perrier, a new course was set in late 1996 when Alfred-Alexandre and Michèle Bonnie bought the estate. Beginning in 1997, this Belgian couple embarked on an extensive programme of changes. Assisted from 2003 by their son Jean-Jacques and his wife Séverine, and joined by their eldest daughter, Véronique and husband Bruno in 2008, the Château is in good hands!Their top priority is to instil quality at all levels: the care lavished on the vines is worthy of the estate’s superb viticultural heritage and the ultra efficient wine making facilities installed in 1997 are still among the most sophisticated in Bordeaux.The cellars, function rooms, Château and park provide a superb setting that reflects the high quality of the wines. As a result of all these efforts, Malartic-Lagravière has regained the splendour that earned its wines their international reputation…and the adventure is now a family affair!
Château Malartic-Lagravière is situated on a high terrace that has been deeply etched by the Eau Blanche stream and its tributaries. It sits on 8-meter-deep deposits of gravelly soil dating from the Quaternary period.The evocative name of ‘Lagravière’ underlines the great quality manifest in the soils of this vineyard, reputed for its location on the finest gravel hillock in Léognan.
Whilst the layer of gravel makes for excellent surface drainage, the shell-rich limestone sub-soil, made up of fossils from warm seas and veins of clay, store large amounts of water. This ensures an adequate supply for the vine, even during the most severe droughts.
The permeable soil, perfect amounts of sunshine and limited vulnerability to the vagaries of the weather are all favourable factors. These have been further enhanced by the ‘sur mesure’ – tailored approach to the management of the vines that has been pursued by the Bonnie family ever since their arrival.
Designed with architect Bernard Mazières in 1998, the winery was one of the first to adopt a grape transport system entirely by gravity: after manual harvests and double sorting on vibrating tables, grapes are transported to the vats and then to the barrels only by gravity. The vat room is also highly innovative. Its octagonal layout houses 20 stainless steel vats and 10 wooden ones, all conical and temperature-controlled. Being small, each one can accommodate the fruit from specific plots for individual vinification.
After blending, the wine is left to age in a 1200-barrel capacity air-conditioned cellar with controlled humidity levels. 25 to 35% of the barrels are replaced every year with new ones from the best coopers.
A smaller 200-barrel capacity cellar is reserved for the white wines.The tasting room is located between the two cellars and it is here, with the greatest of care, that the blending is carried out. With the advice of oenologist Michel Rolland, the owners and the cellar master create a blend that will give appropriate structure to the complexity and elegance that characterizes the wines of Malartic-Lagravière, thereby producing wines with a potential to age.