An elegant, expressive nose of pure black fruit and cedar spice.
A decade ago, Château Tronquoy-Lalande was at the epicenter of one of the Médoc’s most underreported bidding wars — which the sellers were only too happy to keep off the media’s radar. Had word spread too far and wide, there would have been overwhelming speculation about renovations, price hikes, and the prospect of the new owners challenging the winery’s Cru Bourgeois status.
The spires atop Tronquoy-Lalande’s steeply pitched roofs are visible from the grounds of the winery’s next-door neighbor, Château Montrose — the torchbearer of the Saint-Estèphe AOC. Shortly after billionaire telecommunications titans Martin and Olivier Bouygues purchased Château Montrose and started pumping millions into the vines and winery of their “Super Second” Grand Cru Classé, the brothers began the hunt to expand their Médoc portfolio. They couldn’t help but notice that buying Tronquoy-Lalande right down the street would more than double their vineyard holdings on the Left Bank.
Given Napoleonic laws, which require all land to be equally divided among one’s heirs, and family desires to hold onto coveted property, it’s quite rare for any Left Bank estate to come up for sale. So it was with a stroke of pure luck that Martin Bouygues, driving past Tronquoy-Lalande, noticed a “for sale” sign — he pulled over and called his brother immediately. The next call was to their real estate agent.
Bouygues wasn’t surprised to learn that a few of his blue-chip neighbors had already put in offers. Realizing what was at stake, Martin called a board meeting, and the brothers wasted no time in contacting the owners of Tronquoy-Lalande directly — with an offer, they figured, that couldn’t be refused.
The winds off the Gironde grew exceedingly cool over the next 24 hours, but when the call finally came in the next day that Tronquoy-Lalande was theirs — for an undisclosed sum — the winds warmed and the Bouygues brothers sprang into action. Though fairly neglected, the property and vineyards were perfectly intact and the brothers soon realized they’d bought one of Saint-Estèphe’s best-kept secrets.
The next call was to Jean-Bernard Delmas, Château Haut-Brion’s winemaker for more than four decades. Dangling the carrot of a £10 million renovation in front of Delmas, Bouygues managed to lure him out of retirement to help rebuild Tronquoy-Lalande’s reputation.
The first vintage Parker tasted under the Bouygues’ ownership was the 2006. He immediately noted the change in guard and hiring of Delmas. With the 2008 vintage, the praise began to roll in: of this historically “notorious under-performer,” Parker wrote that the 2008 was the “finest wine I have tasted from Tronquoy Lalande in thirty years.” In the 2010 vintage — which Decanter, Wine Spectator, and The Wine Advocate all scored the highest in Bordeaux history — Parker raved about “one of the finest wines I have ever tasted from Tronquoy-Lalande,” a “major sleeper of the vintage.”
While 2009 was a particularly hot growing season, making for high-alcohol Left Bank Cabernet Sauvignons of immense concentration and supple structure, 2010 was a Bordeaux collector’s Nirvana. As deeply concentrated and in many cases as high if not higher in alcohol, the top 2010s had the black-fruit intensity of 2009 with the age-worthy structure of 2005. Parker unleashed a 100-point barrage, alerting readers to a 2010 vintage that many believe to be the greatest harvest since 1961.
The 2010 Tronquoy-Lalande is deep ruby with an inky black core. An elegant, expressive nose of pure black fruit and cedar spice. The attack is fresh, with ripe, densely concentrated fruit, and beautifully polished tannins. The finish is lengthy and tinged with licorice spice. Drink now through 2036.
The Bouygues brothers’ 100-point Montrose, from right next door, goes for $350 a bottle. Direct from the pristine cellars of Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande, at the jaw-dropping price of $50/bottle. Only 480 bottles, exclusively for WineAccess members. Shipping included on 4.
Wow. I really enjoy this wine. Good acid so you can chew it and fruit forward with a beautiful cherry/blackberry nose. Great chewy finish. Delicious!
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