A historyOf La Conseillante & The Nicolas family
“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).
Since 1871, the Nicolas family has taken extra special care of La Conseillante. With successive generations, vintage by vintage, they have added new chapters to its story.
Each line of vignerons has strived towards the same goal: to preserve this unique vineyard and pass it down to the next generation.
The name “La Conseillante” can be traced back 300 years, to when the influential Libourne merchant Catherine Conseillan purchased the estate and gave it the feminine version of her surname: La Conseillante. Nicknamed the “Iron Lady”, she undertook a programme of renovation at the estate and extended the surface area of the vineyard, taking the total to 12 hectares (nearly 30 acres). Five generations later, the vineyard’s layout, with its mosaic of plots, remains unchanged from that time.
The year 1871, when the estate was acquired by the Nicolas family, marked a turning-point in the history of La Conseillante. The brothers Louis Nicolas and Nicolas Nicolas set up their own wine merchant house Nicolas Frères and became the owners of La Conseillante. After they died a few years later, Louis Nicolas, Louis’s eldest son, took over the management of the estate.
Louis Nicolas endeavoured to give a new lease of life to La Conseillante, both technically and commercially. He introduced several innovations and drained the different vine plots. He was also confronted with a number of serious challenges, one of which was the outbreak of the terrible phylloxera epidemic. The expansion of his wine merchant business took him to new and distant markets, including Russia, where he was able to promote its wines. However, he was made acutely aware of the commercial difficulties facing Pomerol, which were caused by too small volumes of production. He advocated the creation of a union and thus became the co-founder in 1900 of the Syndicat Viticole de Pomerol (the Pomerol wine growers’ union) and subsequently became its first president. It was Louis who designed La Conseillante’s label with its cut-off corners, silver frame and ‘N’ initial for Nicolas in its centre. He also gave the bottle its violet-coloured capsule. These elements remain today elegantly modern.
& la Conseillante
In 1953, they modified the estate’s statutes to enable the running of the property to be carried out jointly by two General Managers. Two members of the Nicolas family were now able to share the management of the estate, working side-by-side in a perfectly compatible way, supporting each other and thus representing the Héritiers Nicolas in a more just manner, while reinforcing their attachment to La Conseillante and their concept of the place and its wines. The Héritiers Nicolas company was created on 20th April 1960.
In 1971, Francis and his cousin Bernard Nicolas became the next co-owners of the estate. Together, they represented both the “Louis” branch and the “Henri” branch. This merging of the two family branches resulted in a synergy, in which the one completed and supported the other and in which decisions were taken jointly for the good of the estate. In their constant search for excellence, they built new cellars, and with these more modern facilities, the vinification of the estate’s wines gained in precision. Outstanding wines were achieved by Francis and Bernard, and La Conseillante gained worldwide renown.
respect and passion
Since 2003, Bertrand and Jean-Valmy Nicolas, representing the fifth generation, have been writing a new chapter in the story of the estate. Faithful to the La Conseillante identity and philosophy, they have pursued the same policy of excellence undertaken by their ancestors. Sensitive and caring towards their surroundings, they manage the estate today in an ever-more eco-responsible and sustainable way. Their respect for terroir, detail and precision led them in 2012 to building a vat room that enabled plot-by-plot vinifications. Each member of the Nicolas family is driven by the same passion and inspired by a heritage passed down from generation to generation.
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