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Château Giscours
Tainted by scandal, left to rack and ruin, a patchwork of uninterested owners, fined €200,000 for chaptalisation … the gossip that surrounds Château Giscours is worthy of any good soap opera. One of the largest (and oldest) estates in Margaux, a 3ème Cru Classé to boot, Château Giscours has the fine wine world’s tongues wagging.
A quiet start
The domaine was first written about in 1330, and there are references to winemaking on the estate as far back as 1552. Prior to the French Revolution in 1789, the estate belonged to the Saint-Simon family, who unfortunately lost their heads during the uprising. It was then sold to two Americans, who quickly sold it on. The estate changed hands in rapid succession until 1845 when Count de Pescatore bought it and installed winemaker and manager Pierre Skawinski. The timing of the sale was excellent; under the de Pescatore/Skawinski duo the wine was recognised in the 1855 classification. Things were finally on the up for Giscours. And they stayed that way for 50 years.
All good things come to an end
However, Skawinski retired, de Pescatore sold the estate and Château Giscours went from owner to owner, losing quality and reputation every time it changed hands. The estate was in a pitiful state by the 1950s and had it not been for Nicolas Tari, who knows what would have become of it? Tari invested heavily and improved quality tremendously. He sold the property to Dutch millionaire Eric Albada Jelgersma in 1995.
Scandal strikes
And that’s where the scandal began. Albada Jelgersma and Château Giscours were accused of chapitalising (adding sugar or other illegal substances to increase the alcohol content) their wines. The claim was strongly denied and the estate is appealing against the suspended prison sentences and the €200,000 fine. The Bordeaux tribunal also ordered that the wine affected (around 39,700 litres), must be destroyed. The fine wine estate does, however, admit some sugar was added to “Vat 7” in error, rather than on purpose.
A silver lining for fine wine investors
The positive note among all the scandal is that Château Giscours has significantly upped its game and the typical blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc is both beautiful and successful. There is a certain “car crash” effect since the court ruling (June 2018), ergo a sharp price hike for nearly all recent vintages since that date. Younger vintages look likely to offer a better ROI than those that are pre-1950.
Notable facts and vintages
  • Antonio Galloni noted 2018 Château Giscours “...is certainly the best recent vintage I have tasted” earning 93-96 points from both Vinous and Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth; Decanter’s Jane Anson suggested a drinking window between 2027 and 2042 and awarded the vintage 95 points.
  • A variance of almost -14% between global prices for 2016 versus 2015 vintages points to interesting investment opportunity in Q3 2019, given both share the same attractive 93 point aggregate score. Alleged chapitalised vats under seal aside, 2016 Château Giscours looks quite promising, considering performances for vintages 2009 and 2010 with their aggregate scores of 92 and global prices trading as much as +48% over, and all rising year on year since 2016’s release in Q2 2017.
  • Giscours’ 407 acres spread beyond Margaux into a small plot in Haut-Medoc, from where fruit is selected for the production of Le Haut-Medoc de Giscours, Château Duthil, and Le Rosé de Giscours.