Thierry Manoncourt’s
century

Straddling the past and the future, Thierry Manoncourt, an agricultural engineer by training, made his mark on Château-Figeac as soon as he took over in 1947. With his high forehead and cheerfully furrowed eyes, for more than 60 vintages the man nicknamed the “Pharaoh of Saint-Émilion” imposed both a style and his vision of what a great wine should be. His wife joined the campaign at his side in 1956. His great loves were his family and Château-Figeac, which he brought into the select circle of the finest Bordeaux wines. He scrupulously laid the foundations for future generations, making progress as one vintage followed another, always willing to call into question and reappraise. An innovator in vinegrowing and winemaking, respected by his peers, it was he who brought a fresh eye to Figeac’s very distinctive terroir and established the subtle balance of one-third each of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
President of the Jurade de Saint-Émilion for 23 years and an Officer of the Legion of Honour, always ready to help others, he was one of the creators of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and did much to promote the reputation of Bordeaux wines all over the world. Like his wines, this true gentleman embodied an ideal of generosity and refinement, now perpetuated by his wife and children.
T. Manoncourt in his own words

Interview de Thierry Manoncourt par Fabian Cobb pour Fine Wine Magazine - approx. 30 minutes each

Creator of the label:
Robert Villepigue

Thierry Manoncourt’s uncle, Robert Villepigue was an agronomist with an artistic bent. The label he created for the 1906 vintage became the hallmark of the estate, made to stand the test of time. Rather than a conventional image of the château to show off the place, it boldly proclaims the handwritten name Château-Figeac, outlined with a slightly cheeky red and set off by a stylised shadow. The wax seal symbolises the guarantee of reliability and a commitment to the long term. Thierry Manoncourt demonstrated his attachment to Figeac by adding his family crest and, later, his signature. The Manoncourt family decided to keep it after his death in 2010 as a tribute to the man who, harvest after harvest, wrote over 60 years of the estate’s history.
Unlike any other, the label also evokes a happily mischievous unconcern for existing codes as well as quiet self-assurance.

Today

  • Marie-France Manoncourt

    Honorary Chair and co-manager

    Thierry Manoncourt’s wife, she has been a passionate and active participant in the redevelopment, enhancement and expansion of Château-Figeac since 1956. She continues to be actively involved in giving the estate new momentum and in the family’s day-to-day presence, together with Blandine and Hortense.

  • Hortense Idoine Manoncourt

    Chair of the Board of Directors and co-manager

    An engineer who graduated from Angers School of Agriculture, she chairs the Board and coordinates the estate’s management.

  • Blandine de Brier Manoncourt

    General Secretary

    A graduate of Sciences Po Bordeaux, she is particularly involved in Figeac’s built and natural heritage, communication, legal protection and family representation. She is a member of the Jurade de Saint-Émilion.

  • Frederic Faye

    Managing Director

    An agricultural engineer who graduated from Bordeaux Sciences Agro, he arrived at Château-Figeac as an intern in 2002, becoming vineyard manager in 2008 and technical manager in 2010. As Managing Director of Château-Figeac since 2013, he is responsible for the estate’s operational management.

  • Jean-Valmy Nicolas

    Co-manager

    A graduate of the elite HEC business school and a former consultant with McKinsey, he is from a family of winegrowers close to the Manoncourts and co-owner and co-manager of a family estate in Pomerol. He is also a private-equity professional and a director of several French and European companies.

  • The cohesion of a team

    Engineers, winemakers, craft workers or labourers, young or more experienced, they have different skills and profiles but show remarkable cohesion and commitment alongside the Manoncourt family. They are the guardians of an authentic Figeac culture.

    "We like to take on a number of interns because of their constant questioning and their energy. Their dissertations or theses are a source progress. Schools and universities often send us their best students."

    Romain Jean-Pierre, technical manager

Château-Figeac and eternity

  • 2021

    Official inauguration of the new winery and reopening of visits after works lasting two-and-a-half years.
    Appointment of a research and development manager.

  • 2020

    Château-Figeac hones its new, high-precision facility, which includes a gravity feed winery, a special vat¬ room for R&D, 40 truncated cone stainless steel vats for plot vinification, 8 custom made French oak vats and expanded reception capacity.
    The 5,000-m² facility is integrated into a discreet architectural whole which blends in perfectly with its surroundings.

    Château-Figeac 2019 is acclaimed by critics as one of the three best Bordeaux wines, with an average score of 98.38/100 (source: Global Wine Score).
    In the ranking of the 100 most powerful brands in the fine wine market, Château-Figeac keeps its place in the top 50 for the third year running (source: Liv ex Power 100 ranking).
    Château-Figeac 2017 is included in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100, among the world’s finest wines.

    Expansion of horse-drawn ploughing to 50% of the surface area of the Château Figeac vineyard. This traditional method is extremely respectful of the soil and the vines.

    First steps towards obtaining individual ISO 14001 certification in order to go beyond regulatory requirements relating to the environment.

  • 2019

    2,000 wine professionals from all over the world come to Château-Figeac during En Primeur Week.

  • 2018

    Start of major works on the winery and vat-house with preference being given, like-for-like, to local and regional firms. Qualification for the Level 3 HVE High Environmental Value label, renewed each year, a certification that focuses on the preservation of biodiversity.

  • 2017

    An exceptional auction at Christie’s devoted entirely to Château-Figeac, including rare vintages, to mark 125 years of ownership by the Manoncourt family. A jeroboam of 1949 goes for £8,225.

  • 2016

    With students from École Polytechnique, Château-Figeac co-creates the first edition of the “X-Wine Contest”, an annual blind-tasting competition in which students from leading French and international schools compete before a panel of wine professionals (AgroParisTech, Copenhagen Business School, École Hôtelière de Lausanne, EM Lyon, ENS Ulm, ESSEC, ESTP, Oxford University, Science Po Paris, ENSTA Paris Tech, Cambridge University, etc.).
    Figeac creates Instagram and Twitter accounts to get closer to its followers via digital media.

  • 2015

    Château-Figeac obtains ISO 14001 certification, an international environmental standard, under the Environmental Management System instituted by CIVB, the Bordeaux Wine Council. As well as recognising the Manoncourt family’s efforts, it reflects a renewed commitment to preserve, enhance and pass on a natural heritage and a unique terroir.

    From 2015, during En Primeur Week each year Château-Figeac welcomes between 1,800 and 2,000 wine professionals from all over the world to taste the most recent vintage before it is released. All Château-Figeac wine has been sold to Bordeaux negociants en primeur for many years now.

  • 2014

    15 June 2014: The Spring Festival is one of the most important events in the calendar of the Jurade de Saint-Émilion. It celebrates the induction of 10 new members into the assembly, men and women, winegrowers and merchants. Among them, Blandine de Brier Manoncourt, like her father before her, dons the red cloak of a Jurat for the first time and swears a solemn oath of loyalty to Saint-Émilion.

  • 2013

    The Manoncourt family appoints Frédéric Faye as Managing Director of Château-Figeac, adds Jean-Valmy Nicolas to the management team and gives fresh impetus to the estate.
    Michel Rolland succeeds Gilles Pauquet as consultant winemaker. The reorganisation and the additions to the estate’s teams echo the new momentum imparted at all levels of the business.

    Château-Figeac’s second wine is renamed Petit-Figeac as of the 2012 vintage. In 1945, following a decision by Thierry Manoncourt, Château-Figeac became one of the first estates to produce a second wine, sold until 2011 as La Grange Neuve de Figeac. An initiation into the Figeac style and produced entirely from Figeac plots, it is harvested, vinified and bottled to the same exacting standards as the senior wine.

    Long-standing plots are given five years’ rest for replanting.

    The estate protects its natural areas by becoming a “wildlife reserve”, with a commitment to protect populations of migratory birds and endangered species that nest there.

  • 2010

    Death of Thierry Manoncourt on the eve of his 65th vintage. His wife Marie-France and their children continue his work.

  • 2009

    Completion of a map showing the geo-resistivity of the soil and measurement of vine vigour using infrared radiation.

  • 1995

    Creation of a special label on the occasion of Thierry Manoncourt’s 50th vintage.

  • 1993

    Creation of a special label to celebrate the family’s 100th vintage.

  • 1990

    Château-Figeac is one of the first Bordeaux estates to create a website.

  • 1988-2013

    Count Eric d’Aramon and his wife Laure, Thierry and Marie-France Manoncourt’s daughter, leave Paris in the late 1980s to settle in Figeac and take over the running of the estate. They travel widely to promote Château-Figeac and devote their energy to it for 25 years, taking proactive measures to defend the brand. Eric d’Aramon, Managing Director, becomes a member of the Jurade de Saint-Émilion and serves for a number of years as president of the association of Saint-Émilion First Growths.

  • 1971-1972

    Thierry Manoncourt gives Château-Figeac an ambitious and innovative 1,800-m² facility including stainless-steel vats (the third estate in Bordeaux to do so) and six large vaulted underground cellars. Marie-France Manoncourt turns Figeac hospitality into an art of living.

  • 1970

    Décision de vinifier 100% en barriques neuves et de mettre en bouteilles 100% au château.

  • 1967

    Thierry Manoncourt is a member of the first delegation of Bordeaux winegrowers, led by the city’s legendary mayor Jacques Chaban-Delmas, to visit the United States. It is the first of countless trips for him and his wife Marie-France to “sing the praises of Figeac”. They are also among the first Bordeaux winegrowers to go to Asia, visiting Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as Germany, the United States, Chile and Canada. Now, Figeac travels all over the world.

  • 1964-1988

    Thierry Manoncourt, President of the Jurade de Saint-Émilion for 23 years, gives the brotherhood fresh impetus and an international reputation.
    In devoted service to numerous wine industry and winegrower bodies in the region, throughout his entire life he contributes to the progress and reputation of Bordeaux wines around the world.

  • 1956

    Thierry Manoncourt marries Marie-France Duboÿs de Labarre. Both of them share a passion for Figeac. The estate expands, acquires new facilities, continues to innovate and enhances its reputation around the world. The couple also serve the Bordeaux region as a whole, in various ways. They define the Figeac style.

  • 1955

    Château-Figeac is ranked a First Growth on the creation of the Saint-Émilion classification.

  • 1947

    Thierry Manoncourt, an agronomy engineer, comes to Figeac “for a year” to help out his parents and ensure a smooth transition. He realises the vast potential of the terroir, develops a passion for it and ultimately devotes his entire life to it. He brings a number of striking innovations to vinegrowing and winemaking. In particular, he is responsible for deciding the distinctive mix of grape varieties that is at the heart of the Figeac style.

  • 1920

    Château-Figeac is a vinegrowing apprentice training centre for wards of the nation.

  • 1917

    Birth of Thierry Manoncourt

  • 1906

    Creation of the famous Château-Figeac label by Robert Villepigue, great-uncle of the current owners.

  • 1892

    Château-Figeac comes into the family.
    Henriette de Chèvremont and her husband André Villepigue, Thierry Manoncourt’s grandparents, acquire the estate, prompted by their friend Albert Macquin, an outstanding agricultural engineer celebrated for his role in combating phylloxera. He then runs Château-Figeac for 10 years, restructures the vineyard, re-equips the vat-house and introduces unusual plant species into the park.
    From the moment they acquire the estate, the Manoncourts make innovation the mainspring of their action.
    It marks the start of a passion.

  • 1876

    Château-Figeac is the only representative of Saint-Émilion to present its wines at the first Universal Exhibition at Philadelphia in the United States.

  • 1832

    Countess Félicité de Carle-Trajet sells the first parcels of the great Figeac estate following a reversal of fortune. The current estate occupies the heart of the former property, around the three gravel hills and the château.

  • 1654

    Through the marriage of Marie Decazes, the vast, aristocratic Figeac estate becomes the property of the Carles, a highly influential family in the region. They play an active part in the beginnings of “modern” vinegrowing in the Libourne region and develop a clientele in Paris and northern Europe. They enhance the architecture of the château, the most remarkable features of which are an elegant late 18th-century façade, the pillars of the great courtyard linked by a wooden gate and topped by a fire-pot finial, and a pediment whose waves evoke overseas exports of Figeac wines.

  • 1586

    Raymond Decazes rebuilds the château, burnt down during the Wars of Religion. Many Renaissance features remain, such as the imposing pillars of the great courtyard, the tower and the elements of mullioned windows.

  • XV-XIX ème siècle

    The seigniory of Figeac belongs to the same Decazes family then, by marriage, to the Carles.

  • II ème siècle – XV ème

    A large Gallo-Roman villa belonging to the Figeacus family is located on the site of the present-day château.
    Vines are planted there, accompanying the spread of Christianity. The estate becomes a seigniory in the Middle Ages.