BACK TO THE FUTURE
The visitors' centre at Chateau Kirwan is a striking blend of the traditional and the modern.
Nathalie SCHYLER is a member of the owning family of both Chateau Kirwan and the negociant Schroder & Schyler (in business since 1739 and, today, run by her brother Yann).
In 2007, the talented Philippe DELFAUT (pictured), former Technical Directeur of Chateau Palmer, was recruited.
New and old labels of Chateau Kirwan.
At the beginning of 2007, Chateau Kirwan parted ways with wine consultant Michel ROLLAND who, unfortunately, used to unnecessarily over-extract and produced wines that tended to dryness and austerity.
Chateau Kirwan engaged the services of the talented Philippe DELFAUT. Overall in charge of the winemaking at Kirwan since 2007, Delfaut was the previous Technical Directeur of highly acclaimed Chateau Palmer.
Chateau Kirwan has a history going back more than 300 years. In 1710, it was sold to a wine merchant by the name of John COLLINGWOOD. Later, Collingwood’s daughter married an Irishman who was to give the estate the name by which we now know it. Mark KIRWAN spread the fame of the wine which admirers included then America’s Ambassador to France and future third president, Thomas JEFFERSON.
Chateau Kirwan, like so many other properties, was seized by the state following the French Revolution (1789 – 1799). Although a member of the landed gentry, Mark Kirwan escaped retribution perhaps because of his Irish ancestry. Indeed, he regained his property under Napoleon and actually died on his beloved estate in 1815.
Two changes of ownership later, at the beginning of the 20th Century, the wine merchant Schroder & Schyler acquired the Margaux Third Growth. The Schyler family are still proprietors. Indeed, Jean-Henri SCHYLER continues to live at Chateau Kirwan. (His late wife, Christine KRUG-SCHYLER, was a member of the Krug family of Champagne).
Responsibility for the wine is in the hands of their children Yann, Nathalie and Sophie.
Chateau Kirwan is situated in the village of Cantenac. Driving along the D2, you take a left turn before the church. After crossing a railway line, you turn right to reach the charming chateau. Over the last five years or so, improvements have been made to the winery, cellar, garage for harvesting vehicles, cellar door facilities, greenhouse and two guest-rooms.
The 37-hectare vineyards are planted to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. The soils are sandy and gravelly. The average age of the vines is 30 years. Following fermentation in small, temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, Chateau Kirwan is aged about 18 months in 225-litre oak barriques, about one-third of which is new. Since the 1993 vintage, apart from the Grand Vin, a second wine by the name of Les Charmes de Kirwan is also produced. Since the arrival of Philippe Delfaut, both wines have become even more charming.