Updated on November 7, 2022

Cheers to Chateau la Marzelle!

By Shana Devleschoudere
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With seventeen hectares in a single block on the Upper Terrace of Saint-Émilion, Château La Marzelle has exceptional natural assets.

From this naturally privileged terroir comes a renowned wine, distinguished before its time by the mention "premier cru classé". From 1998 onwards, the Sioen family gave the estate a dynamic transformation, with major work on the buildings, a renewal of the equipment and a qualitative restructuring of the vineyard, along with its conversion to organic farming. Cultivation practices that respect the vines and work on the maturing process worthy of goldsmiths have brought the desired results: Château La Marzelle has risen to the level of the first of the Saint-Émilion Grands Crus Classés.

An exceptional natural capital

From this naturally privileged terroir comes a renowned wine, distinguished before its time by the mention "premier cru classé". From 1998 onwards, the Sioen family gave the estate a dynamic transformation, with major work on the buildings, a renewal of the equipment and a qualitative restructuring of the vineyard, along with its conversion to organic farming. Cultivation practices that respect the vines and work on the maturing process worthy of goldsmiths have brought the desired results: Château La Marzelle has risen to the level of the first of the Saint-Émilion Grands Crus Classés.

A long history of fame

From winegrowing abbots to Grand Cru Classé

The Cistercian abbey of La Faise was founded in 1137, in the present-day commune of Artigues-de-Lussac, in the Gironde. The monks, large landowners, perpetuated the cultivation of the vine initiated more than a thousand years earlier. The Roman poet Ausonius was already enthusiastic about the wine: "Hail, O my country, famous for your wines...". In 1199, the Duke of Aquitaine Jean sans Terre authorised the bourgeois of Saint-Emilion to form a Jurade. The jurats imposed draconian rules to ensure the quality of the "fine wines" that contributed to the reputation of their city.

It was not until the 18th century that the religious winegrowers relinquished their estate of La Marzelle to the Largeteau family. A trace of this "recognition" can be found in a report by Master Isambert, dated 12 March 1741. In this report, Mr Largeteau refers to "a border land which he owns in the parish of Saint-Martin de Mazerat, now Saint-Émilion, at a place called La Marzelle". A marriage contract signed in 1734 referring to this property suggests that the origin of the property is even earlier than this date. The estate remained in the hands of this family until 1891.

Just as the neighbouring property "Domaine Noble Figeac" gave its name to the place called Figeac, it is likely that the place called La Marzelle borrowed its name from the early fame of the estate. In 1821, La Marzelle is mentioned for the first time on the Belleyme map. The reputation of the estate's wines was great, since as early as 1925, when the classification of Saint-Émilion wines did not yet exist, the words "premier cru classé" appeared on the bottle label. The very first official classification, which came into being in 1954, established Château La Marzelle as one of the most remarkable wines of Saint-Émilion.

Excellence, the watchword of today and tomorrow

The latest classification in 2012 confirms La Marzelle as one of the 64 Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Émilion. Château La Marzelle has become a member of the Association de Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Émilion, which promotes the wines of the medieval town throughout the world. Château La Marzelle is also a member of the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux, which has 195 properties and 29 appellations, and is a gathering of talents whose key word is excellence.

21st century, a time of transformation

A big dream for a spectacular renaissance

The acquisition in 1998 by the Sioen family of the thirteen hectares of Grand Cru Classé La Marzelle marked the beginning of a new era for the château. For Jacqueline Sioen, "There is nothing that gives more satisfaction than realising one's life's dream: to produce a great wine in Saint-Émilion, one of the best terroirs in the world. The great dream of this Belgian couple of industrial entrepreneurs became a reality through major investments. The barrel cellar was doubled in 1999, in order to age two vintages in barrels. One vintage no longer displaces the other and each one can now be matured in fourteen months or more. In 2008, the estate was extended by four additional hectares of vines, bringing its surface area to seventeen hectares.

 

Until 2014, major works transformed the appearance of the estate: restoration of the house, creation of a reception room of 100m2 overlooking the vineyard, renovation of the winery with new thermo-regulated stainless steel vats, and a completely redesigned harvest reception line. The same ambitious policy applies to the vineyard and the renewal of cultivation practices. The vineyard is converted to the principles of organic farming, leading to the ISO 14001 environmental standard. The vinification and maturation of the wine are subject to new rules, with the aim of reaching the heights of excellence. At the beginning of the 21st century, Château La Marzelle has regained its aura and is now part of a new transgenerational cycle, as the grandchildren of the Sioen family are now writing the next chapter of its history.

Grape varieties, the permanent evolution

Grouped in a single block around the farm buildings, the vineyard of Château La Marzelle is composed of 75% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot, the king grape variety of the right bank of the Dordogne, is perfectly adapted to the Libourne region, where it occupies the majority of the vineyard. It gives the wines of Saint-Emilion the roundness, silkiness and velvety texture so much appreciated by wine lovers. The Cabernet Franc, very aromatic, brings structure and fruitiness to the blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon, more tannic, gives the wine a solid backbone and longevity.

 

The vineyard restructuring plan, undertaken with the aim of improving the existing plant material, has made it possible to increase the density of the vines from 5600 vines/ha to 7150 vines/ha. This densification reduces the grape production of each vine while increasing its quality, for an unchanged yield per hectare. Between 2003 and 2018, four phases of uprooting / replanting of plots have taken place at regular intervals in order to regenerate the vineyard. Two plots of Merlot were replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Tasting notes

"It is with great It is with great enthusiasm that I follow very closely the evolution of the estate; and I am proud to present to you the fruit of our passionate work: a great wine for ageing, full, well-balanced, elegant, endowed with a beautiful silky finish, worthy of the best Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion.


Route de Libourne ed 243, 33330 Saint-Emilion, France // Tel: +33 (0)557 55 10 55 // info@lamarzelle.com // www.chateaulamarzelle.com