The Prisoner of Beychevelle

With some time to kill before the en primeurs start in earnest tomorrow, we visited Chateau Beychevelle in Saint-Julien. At the end of the obligatory cellar tour, competently performed, we were taken past the owner’s private stash which includes vintages going back to 1852 – three years before the estate was declared a fourth growth. When one of our party attempted to pap the dark recesses, our guide shouted “no flash!”


Thanks to the miracle of the ultra-sensitive Canon G15 I was able to unmask the secret of Beychevelle – a prisoner in the private cellar (above). Could this be a mad member of the Suntory or Castel families who own the estate? For the boss, Philippe Blanc confirms the estate is very much family owned.

The estate, a Versailles on the river, runs like clockwork. So much so that the gardener even shouted at Suntory president Shin Torii for walking on the lawn next to the statue to a boat (below) when he visited last year. “We usually shoot people walking on the grass” said Philippe. And I don’t think he was joking. If Shin is locked in the cellar for grass offences, he should be released immediately.