Often called the Versailles of Bordeaux because of its architectural splendor and incredible gardens, Château Beychevelle has a history that extends much farther back than the 17th century royal residence. First owned by the Foix Candale family in the mid-15th century, Beychevelle is one of the few châteaux in the region that has experienced an almost dizzying track record of ownership. Upkeep of the high-maintenance estate was often financially prohibitive, and the property felt the impact. Thankfully, this ended in 1757 when the estate was purchased by Marquis François-Etienne de Brassier, who renovated and repaired Beychevelle back to its elegant past. This period was followed by the 50-year reign of Saint- Julien Mayor Pierre-Francois Guestier, who bought the estate in 1825; its 1875 purchase by Heine family, who grew the estate’s size and replanted the vineyard after the notorious phylloxera epidemic; and finally, the Achille-Fould family, who managed the estate from 1970 to 1986. In 1984, Achille-Fould took on a partner in the GMF Group who in turn partnered with the Japanese Suntory in 1988. Today, Château Beychevelle is owned by Grands Millesimes de France, which is a part of the Castel and Suntory Groups.
Beychevelle produces three wines: Château Beychevelle, the most gracious, elegant, and representative of the Saint-Julien terroir; second wine Admiral de Beychevelle, blended to be enjoyed at a much younger age; and a third, Les Bruliéres de Beychevelle, exclusively grown organically since 2008. All the wines carry similar characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, although Les Bruliéres de Beychevelle, while popular, affordable and generally highly scored, is the least complex.
Finally, the château’s name is derived from Baisse Voile, which means “lower the sails.” This is represented not only by the emblematic boat sculpture that sits on the property, but also the wine’s iconic label which features a dragon ship. Perhaps this image is appropriate, given how often Beychevelle has had to fiercely steer its course throughout its history.