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Chateau Kirwan ~ Bordeaux, France

The estate was originally name La Terre Noble de Lasalle and was owned by the La Salle family since the 1600s. In 1710, Berdard de La Salle sold the property to an English wine merchant, Sir Collingwood. Collingwood was the first to seriously develop vineyards on the estate. In 1751, an Irishman name Mark Kirwan married one of Sir Collingwood's daughters and became the owner of the property. The property was renamed as Chateau Kirwan and a focus was placed on restoring the chateau and elevating the quality of the wines. Kirwan established a very good reputation for his estate, and his vineyard was one of many to be visited by Thomas Jefferson, onetime ambassador to France and subsequent US President. Jefferson had a passion for wine, and many Bordeaux estates played host and sold their wine to this travelling Xoenophile. His records from 1780 tell us that he was very impressed with the wine of Quirouen which, allowing for difficulties in pronunciation, must surely refer to Kirwan.

The history of all Bordeaux chateaux of note always include at least two difficult periods; the French Revolution of the late 18th Century, and the economic depression of the early 20th Century (not to mention oidium and phylloxera). Kirwan is no exception. In 1789 the estate was seized, although Kirwan, perhaps by virtue of his country of birth, escaped unharmed. Mark Kirwan lost the chateau in the French Revolution but was able to regain ownership soon after. He eventually died on the property in 1815. The Kirwan family sold the estate in 1858 to Camille Godard, a well-known figure in Bordeaux. In 1882, Godard bequethed Chateau Kirwan to the city of Bordeaux. During the period that the city owned the estate, the quality of the wines and the reputation of the chateau declined. In 1904, Chateau Kirwan was sold at auction to the Schyler family (of the Bordeaux merchants, Schroeder and Schyler) for the bargain price of 250,000 francs. The Schyler family has maintained ownership of Chateau Kirwan and has allowed members of successive generation to manage it.