Margaux - The Schÿler family
Château Kirwan is a winery in the Margaux appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. The wine produced here was classified as one of fourteen Troisièmes Crus (Third Growths) in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
So, where does the strange-sounding name ‘Kirwan’ actually come from? It has a more northern ring to it than these vines growing on the Cantenac plateau. In fact, it is a relic from Bordeaux’s golden age, because the chateau bears the name of a long line of Irish wine merchants. Mark Kirwan inherited the estate in 1760, when he married one of the daughters of Sir John Collingwood, an English wine merchant in Bordeaux.
The wines of the property already had a sound reputation. Their fame grew as the reputation was confirmed. The new owner gave the estate his name, so that foreign merchants would better pick out his wines, because they sounded less French. Thomas Jefferson himself, a knowledgeable wine enthusiast, classified the estate’s wines as a second-rank growth, while he was U.S. Ambassador to France. He gave the name his own idiosyncratic pronunciation and spelling: “Quirouen”.
He did much to enhance the wine’s reputation, and the book “Thomas Jefferson on Wine” tells us that the third American president praised the wine greatly during a trip to Bordeaux in 1787, noting that “Château de Quirouen” was in the 2nd category, along with “Ségur”, “Lynch”, etc.
Château Kirwan has 40 hectares of vineyards, planted to 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.
Château Kirwan is a wine that is produced from the best parcels of the vineyard that have mainly gravel soils, but some are also clay. The fruit is picked and sorted twice by hand, then vinified in separate batches corresponding to individual vineyard parcels. Half the oak barrels used to age the wine for eighteen months are renewed every year.
Les Charmes de Kirwan is the second wine of the property, launched in 1993. It is the main wine’s “little brother” and is generally made from the fruit of the youngest vines and parcels of the vineyard that are less gravelly, but sandier. The wine is made highlighting its fruit and maximising suppleness. It can therefore be enjoyed younger.