Thierry Manoncourt, the owner of Château Figeac in St Emilion, has died aged 92.
Manoncourt died peacefully at home on Friday (27 August). He had run the family property for 63 years.
After serving in the French army during World War II, he studied agriculture and took control of the estate in 1947.
Although he delegated the running of Figeac to his son-in-law Comte Eric d’Aramon over 20 years ago, he and his wife Marie-France remained highly visible at Figeac itself and at dinners and other events during Vinexpo and the en primeur tastings.
To many, Manoncourt personified all that is best about Bordeaux: acting as a steward of the historic estate, opening its doors to interested visitors, and participating in the communal life of the region. At a dinner in St Emilion in 2007, the oldest wine poured was the 1950 Figeac. The wine prompted the guests to give the Manoncourts a spontaneous ovation.
It was a disappointment to him in recent years that he failed to win promotion of Figeac to Premier Grand Cru Classé (A), alongside Ausone and Cheval Blanc.
His petition was rejected not on grounds of quality but of price, and he felt acutely the irony that Figeac was penalized for its lack of greed.
Tim Hartley, one of the British chancellors of the Jurade de St Emilion, said, ‘I know that everybody who loves Saint-Émilion is going to miss him. He was in many ways the embodiment of all that is best there: the warmth of welcome, and the combination of tradition and pride in history, with the modern world.’
Written by Stephen Brook