Marie Christine, the daughter of Henri Ducourt, purchased this prestigious left-bank property in 1979, which lies on the border of the Graves appellation. The 60-hectare vineyard was rapidly replanted and the château building, which dates from 1348, was restored. The family now produces three different-colored wines there: red, white and rosé.
In 1858, Ducourt family settled at Château des Combes in Ladaux, a small rural village in the south east of Bordeaux, in the heart of Entre-Deux-Mers area. Over time, new generations have followed in their footsteps; a passion for wine has become a profession, and their knowledge and the estate have grown ever greater as they have been passed down the line.
Pierre Ducourt, then his children and his grand-children farmed several hectares of vines that belonged to the estate. The arrival of the grandfather, Henri Ducourt, at the property marked an important turning point in the family business. He, with the help of his three children (Marie Christine, Philippe and Bernard), decided to drastically revitalize the company and turned the family vineyard into one of Bordeaux’s largest winemaking facilities, with 450 hectares of land and 14 chateaus in 6 different AOC's.
The crocodile is the emblem of Henri Ducourt’s vigorous business spirit, which lives on today, as strong as ever, in each family member. And what better ambassadors could exist to remind people that Entre-Deux-Mers is where this family adventure began?
In 1962, Henri Ducourt, a young winemaker, used to work 14 hours a day managing the 20 hectares of vines he had inherited from his father. He had a good friend, his neighbor, who owned 14 hectares and used to work with his two sons. At this time, suffice to say that running a vineyard was not the career that parents wished for their children, preferring instead to steer them towards more stable jobs. Some though, including Henri, were obstinate and unwilling to part from the vineyard. So, hard-working and hard-headed, Henri Ducourt slowly but surely bought the land and the vines of the neighboring producers and found himself by the mid-80’s at the head of almost 300 hectares of vineyards! One day, as much to poke fun as through admiration, the son of his friend drew a crocodile on a sign to represent the tenacity, lucidity and cold-blooded business spirit of Henri Ducourt, then planted this sign among the far-reaching vines of his neighbor.
Amused by the gesture, Henri Ducourt was inspired by the crocodile when he rebuilt the winery and asked that the new vats were decorated with this symbol. Today, Henri’s children and grandchildren manage 450 hectares of vineyards, always persistent, ready for new challenges, and faithful to what their parents have built. The crocodile has since become the emblem of the family.
Winery Acreage: 141 acres - 15-30 years old vines
Winery Production: 200,000 / 9L cases
Varietals Produced: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc.
Winemaker: Jérémy DUCOURT
Graduated as Oenologist in 2002 (University of Toulouse).
Before joining Ducourt in 2014, he worked for various estates :
- Domaine de l’Hortus in Pic Saint Loup
- Les caves de Sieur d’Arques in Limoux
- Chateau Carbonnieux, Grand Cru Classé in Pessac Léognan
The Ducourt's have always known that quality grapes are essential for making a good wine. Therefore they take the utmost care in the vineyards, to get the best from every plot of land. The size of the business also allows them to make numerous investments in the latest tools, which enable to unite traditional knowledge with the latest technologies, and therefore become ever more precise and respectful of the environment in their work.
The latest equipment
They regularly invest in new equipment for two main reasons : a desire to constantly evolve and improve quality while reducing the amount of strenuous and dangerous work undertaken by their co-workers.
With the development of the vineyard's surface, the harvests are now carried out with the help of the latest generation of harvesting machines, which make it possible to collect the grapes in the cool of the morning. Harvest is quicker offering more flexibility and quality improvement.
Among the latest acquisitions is a machine that allows to plant using a GPS guidance as well as an innovative and precise spraying system and flexible frames that allow to reduce waste and the amount of treatment products used.
A Grand-Cru-worthy setup
The family invests in equipment that is worthy of a Grand Cru, and therefore push further in the constant quest for quality, which applies to the entire range of wines.
The new pressing system allows them to press the grapes in a completely inert environment to prevent any oxygenation of the juice and to preserve the aromas of each varietal, to obtain more intense and fresher wines. The wineries and the stainless-steel vats are thermo-regulated in order to keep the juice in the best conditions possible and to maintain complete control over the entire fermentation process. They have also invested in a cross-flow filtration system for filtering wines before bottling, which ensures optimal quality and no waste. Finally, to improve safety for the co-workers they also regularly invest in new equipment such as carbon-monoxide detectors, helping to prevent accidents including asphyxiation during the cleaning of the vats. The most recent investment to date involves the bottling line that was set up with the collaboration of the employees in order to reduce their workload.
6 generations of shared experience
They have the good fortune to be able to build on several generations of winemaking experience and produce wines that respect their local typicity. They frequently organize tastings of two old vintages so as to improve their understanding of the wines’ evolution over time, and so as to be able to really tell people when is the best time to drink the wines.