Bordeaux Vineyard Chateaux Architecture.

With a wine history as long as Bordeaux’s there are a wide variety of architectural styles and influences. Vineyards evoke a feeling of grandeur and French lifestyle “par excellence” but for most of the 2000 year history of Bordeaux, vineyards we not unlike any other farm. Medieval chateaux were commonly located on high points over looking their estates. Noblemen in favour with their king were given ownership of all the land that they could see – so clearly there was an incentive to seek a location that had a good vantage point. The chateaux were therefore on elevated positions, often with walled courtyards offering fortification for food stores and animals, a tower that housed the stairway and very few windows for insulation reasons. These medieval chateaux remain today dotted around the Bordeaux landscape but they are quite stark and often feel more like a fortified castle than a vineyard.Renon – pls use your shot

It was in the 18th century that architectural style became notable in Bordeaux. Wealthy nobles purchased estates across the Bordeaux region, where they built magnificent chateaux. Some of the more famous names of course come from the Medoc, but the chateaux were expressions of the booming wine trade that dominated industry in the South West of France through the port of Bordeaux at that time. Perhaps one of the most talked about architectural influences of the 18th century was that of Victor Louis. Born on the 10th of May 1731 his influence was most clearly felt in the city centre of Bordeaux with the “Grand Theatre de Bordeaux” which was inaugurated on 17th April 1780. Such was the effect of this architectural statement that it triggered plagiarisms across the Bordeaux region.
As Bordeaux vineyard and Chateaux experts we have come across Victor Louis chateaux, suspected Victor Louis chateaux and chateaux that were inspired by his style. Recently rumoured to have sold to a Chinese investor is the famous Chateau Bouilh finished in 1786 – a historically listed Bordeaux Chateau with about 40 hectares of vines amongst an estate of 80 hectares. The property is remarkable in its scale and grandeur and borrows many cues from the Bordeaux Grand theatre – the entry stairway is almost identical although smaller in scale. Finished at an auspicious time in France’s history, the full extent of the chateau was never realized; nevertheless it is one of the most spectacular architectural masterpieces of the region.

In 2012 we sold Chateau Pabus a Bordeaux chateau located near Sadirac. Although we never had legal documentation to prove it, there is anecdotal historical evidence that it was the work of Victor Louis. Not far from Chateau Pabus in the “premières côtes” is Chateau Renon, also inspired by Victor Louis however, there is debate over whether it was designed by Louis himself or one of his students. Finally, and although there are many other examples, there is Chateau Aignan in St Loubes that is worthy of note as another likely example of his work.

The study of architecture is a vast subject even for one relatively small region such as Bordeaux. Function has inspired form in many cases as the practicalities of wine farming influence architect and client alike over the centuries. All across the Bordeaux landscape you will find simple rectangular nineteenth century houses – south facing, with a north facing Vat house attached to the rear. Known as “Girondines” this practical Bordeaux wine estate is the most common architectural style in the region and although it does not look like an archetypal “French chateau” that has a prestigious name associated with it such as Victor Louis, it nonetheless is a French chateau and probably the most distinctive representation of what we know to be a Bordeaux vineyard chateau today.