Log In / Join Now

Fire Destroys Château de France's Cellar

Quantities of the Bordeaux estate's wine were damaged by the sheer heat of the blaze

Diana Macle
Posted: July 21, 2011

A fire has inflicted heavy damage on the cellars at Château de France in Pessac-Leognan, ruining a portion of its 2010 wines. The fast-moving blaze started on the evening of July 18 for reasons yet to be determined.

Established during the 18th century, Château de France is currently planted with 89 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as six acres of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. It has been owned by the Thomassin family since 1971. Consultant Michel Rolland assists in the winemaking.

According to local authorities, the fire began in the garage and spread to the roof of the cellar, rapidly destroying the three-story structure. Some 50 firefighters battled the blaze, managing to keep it from spreading to other parts of the property.

Many of the cellar's stainless steel vats are still intact, but they contained the château's second wine, which was subjected to an extremely high temperature. "Part of the 2010 vintage of our second wine appears to have been affected by the disaster, but we have to wait to evaluate the full extent of the damage," said owner Arnaud Thomassin. "Our first wine was entirely saved, as the blaze didn't extend to our barrel cellar or our bottled wine storage area, thanks to the tremendous work of local firefighters."

The fire will also complicate the 2011 vintage, as Château de France has been robbed of its winemaking facilities and now has to find a new temporary location to vinify its grape harvest.

Despite this unforeseen setback, the Thomassins are continuing business as usual and plan to reconstruct the destroyed cellar as soon as possible.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.