By: David Driscoll
K&L Staff Member
The documented history of Lanessan dates back to 1310 when records show that Dame Paironne la Montagne, the widow of Henry de Lanessan, sold the estate to Sieur de Blaignan. In 1793 it was purchased by Jean Delbos, a Bordeaux négociant, and it has remained in the family ever since. In 1855, Louis Delbos, who was the manager at the time, refused to submit samples for consideration in what is now the most famous classification in wine history – the decree from Emperor Napoleon himself that ranked the great wines of Bordeaux's Médoc into the five-tier growth system we still recognize today. While Delbos then regarded the procedure as "bureaucratic nonsense," Bordeaux author David Peppercorn called his disinterest "a piece of high-handedness that has cost Lanessan dearly." The 1855 Classification remains in place today. It has never been updated, despite a failed attempt to do so in 1960. Personal rankings from established Bordeaux critics are published from time to time, but they don't carry the weight of the original. Therefore, whenever enthusiasts peruse the one official ranking of top Bordeaux estates, Lanessan's name is nowhere to be found. So who is Lanessan, you ask? Why are they so important and why have we sold thousands upon thousands of bottles of their wine over the years? Lanessan is an old world Bordeaux producer that, due to a "high-handed" career decision, was kept out of the most important wine classification in history. A chateau that has always held true to its terroir-driven roots and made wine the old-fashioned way, regardless of who was handing out big points and fancy awards. I was talking to our own Clyde recently, who said to me: "Just think how much the owner’s refusal to submit samples in 1855 has cost the property over 150 plus years. It would have been rated at least a fourth growth - so many St Julien wines are rated 2nd growths. You figure the price would be double at least what it has been over the years!" Instead of fourth-growth status, however, Lanessan continues to fly under-the-radar, alluding the attention of most Bordeaux aficionados despite its quality. Take of sip of this 1999 and find out what the fuss is about. Clyde has had a soft spot for the Lanessan wines since 1996 when he first forged a relationship with the underrated chateau. That friendship has blossomed over time. Because of his support and enthusiasm for the wine, Lanessan has agreed to sell us back vintages like the 1999 directly, without distribution fees driving up the price. When we can buy wines directly from the chateau, not only can we keep the cost down, but we can also guarantee that they've been cellared in optimal conditions. When you're talking Bordeaux of that quality for $19.99, it's time to start talking case quantities.