At the very beginning, there was a fortress in the seigneury of La Mothe-Cantenac. The 12th century building was demolished five hundred years later by Baron d’Essenault when he inherited the estate.
In its place he had the present property built, which today still has some beautiful medieval features, such as its imposing gateway, its towers and its moat, relics of its former defences. A wall built in 1644 still surrounds the vineyard. The chateau is lived in today, having undergone several phases of renovation. In 1970, after the Cruse family undertook refurbishment work, the chateau was included on the French complementary list of historical buildings.
That old manor, whose connected towers,
their pointed spires, Whose slated mass are like a dark giant,
Overlooking the plateau from the foot
of the hill, It’s Château d’Issan. M. P. Biarnez
Château d’Issan is in the middle of the Margaux appellation, a truly privileged location, which explains the outstanding quality of its wines. The mild weather, regulated by being close to the sea and the Gironde Estuary, provides ideal conditions for vine growth.
52 hectares (109 acres) Margaux
5 hectares (7.5 acres) Haut-Médoc
10 hectares (24.5 acres) Bordeaux Supérieur
The soil is made up of mounds of gravel and 15-metre (50-foot) high alluvial hills, rounded by erosion. This ground drains well, forcing the vines to develop deep root systems in search of the special ingredients that make Château d’Issan wines so distinctive.
Nothing much remains of the pre-Revolution estate: bad weather, wars and phylloxera outbreaks took a heavy toll over the centuries. Today’s vines are 35 years old on average and result mainly from the Cruse family’s restoration efforts after 1945.
The estate now has a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, the Medoc’s prime grape variety, which endows wines with its structure, its bouquet and its ageing potential. The rest of the vines are Merlot, which contributes a round suppleness to the blends it is involved in.
65 % Cabernet Sauvignon / 35 % Merlot
Since the 18th century, the grounds of Château d'Issan have provided perfect agricultural balance. The 52ha of AOC Margaux vineyards lying to the west - the historic part of which is located in the center of the famous stonewalled “Clos”, built in 1644 – are matched by 50ha of unspoiled nature to the east, along the banks of the estuary, used for polyculture.
Four original zones of nature on the estate play a major role in contributing to the health of its vines: water, polyculture, trees, and the clos. Respecting this ecosystem and its biodiversity ensures the future quality and balance of the château's wines.
Château d’Issan’ s location on the 45th parallel north (a latitude equidistant between the North Pole and the Equator) awards it natural balance and unique geographical advantages, namely stable weather conditions, with temperate winters and long, warm summers. This positioning combined with the estate’s nature reserve provides the perfect recipe for biological balance, and thus optimal vine growth.