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château de monluc

A place full of history

Château de Monluc is a place full of stories. There are several thousand years of cultures and civilisations to be found in the château and its surroundings…

The history of Saint-Puy

Saint-Puy is a little Gascon village perched on the top of hill.

Located in the department of the Gers, in the region of Occitanie, the village of Saint-Puy has been occupied since the Neolithic era. Its name originates from Summumpodium and then became Sempuy. Already, in the Neolithic period, men had chosen to settle on this promontory. Later, the Romans developed the culture of the vine. In the Middle Ages, the village saw changes with English possession, then French.

Saint-Puy, the vine and the Gascons

In the small Gascon village of Saint-Puy, perched on a hill, there is a château that dates back more than ten centuries. By the time of the neolithic era, several thousand years ago, man had already chosen to settle on this promontory covered in oaks. The polished stone axes and arrow tips which have been discovered here, are evidence of their activity here and their first tradings. More than ten centuries later, the Romans developed the cultivation of vines which, with the growth of communications, brought a new prosperity to the region that was to become Gascony. A little later the Saracens passed through and brought with them their ‘stills’. The English however, driven out of Gascony in the 14th Century, did not take kindly to the Dutch traders. Consequently the Dutch boats were not allowed to go any further than Bordeaux, still under English rule, until the Spring following the previous years’ harvest, when they were permitted to go back up the Garonneriver to load the Haut-pays wines. It was therefore already too late for a good number of the wines at this time as, even when well stored, they could not wait for the arrival of the Dutch merchants without being ruined. The Dutch had the idea to distil a part of these wines in order to mix the extracted alcohol with the remaining wines. The resulting blend guaranteed the perfect conservation of the wines.

They started to distil wine to produce a palatable alcohol. In the 15th Century, this was an unconventional and original practice as, up until then, alcohol was reserved for doctors, perfumers and alchemists.
While the centuries passed, the fame of Armagnac and the Gascons grew little by little, whereas the medieval villages like Saint-Puy, nestled high on the hilltops away from roads and rivers started to lose their influence, tumbling into dormancy. Today, the creative genius of the Gascons is alive and well, and continues to be passed on from generation to generation. It is therefore not surprising that the local wine growers, among them the great grandfather of René Lassus, naturally thought to send their wines outside of the region : simply following a centuries old tradition. The wine producers that, at the end of the last century, sold their wines to the Champagne region were not mistaken. The quality of the wines grown on the good soil of the Gascon hillsides lent itself perfectly to the fabrication of these pedigree wines.
It is then that René Lassus, on deepening the trading approach of his grandfather, had the idea to use the champagne method for his wines, still continuing to distil a part. The Château of Saint-Puy is in the Ténarèze, one of the better soil areas for Armagnac production in the region, and the distillation still plays an important role in the lives of the wine growers.

The juxtaposition of the inventive Gascon spirit and their excellent ‘eau-de-vie’, should, and does as one would imagine, lead to an abundance of original family recipes.

The idea for the Cocktail POUSSE-RAPIERE was no different, and René Lassus improved the family formula combining the Armagnac liqueur with BRUT sparkling wine that he produced in the traditional champagne method, creating the Cocktail POUSSE-RAPIERE that we all know.

The undeniable success of this Cocktail is due to the fact that its two components are combined together in order to produce a perfectly balanced blend. The wine and the liqueur are made for each other, grown on the same land, from the same vineyards and their marriage is the happiest, most harmonious and the most natural possible.

For more information on the history of Saint-Puy
http://patrimoines.midipyrenees.fr/fileadmin/DOC_LIE/IVD32/IA32ETUD/IA32100048_01.PDF

History of Blaise de Monluc

Blaise de Monluc : fervent defender of the french monarchy

Blaise de Lasseran de Massencome, known as Blaise de Monluc, born between 1500 and 1502 in Saint-Puy and died 26th July 1577, was a marshal of France and memorialist of the 17th century. He distinguished himself as a fervent defender of the monarchy during the wars of Italy and the wars of religion. He inherited the castle of his great grandfather Pierre de Lasseran de Massencome, Lord of Monluc, who had received the château and the surrounding lands of Saint-Puy – Gaure County – around 1470, from the hands of Charles d’Albret of which he was the « Hostel Maistre ».

Towards 1500, the MONLUC property had diminished considerably and the little « Blaizot », eldest son of four girls and six boys was obliged to leave his birthplace, even though he was only ten years old (approximately 1510-1511) to join the court of Lorraine where he had a position waiting for him as page boy for the Duchess Renée of LORRAINE. Like all the young people of his time, he aspired to be a young go-getter which gained him admiration from his elders. It was the period of the famous Italian wars for which they adopted the charming euphemism « trips to Italy ». As soon as he was old enough to carry a weapon Blaise left to ‘conquer the world’ or, less romantically, to fight on the battlefields of Italy.
Despite a disappointing start (he was defeated at Bicoque in 1522 and taken prisoner in Pavie in 1525 where, too poor to pay the ransom, he had to be released – a severe humiliation for a young, proud Gascon!) the fiery southern temperament of MONLUC with his strong leadership qualities and sense of initiative earned him rapid recognition from his superiors. During 40 years, Blaise of MONLUC faithfully served his kings following the army’s fortunes during the campaign of Piémont, Cérisoles, Boulogne, and the defence of Sienna against the troops of Charles Quint.

Between each campaign he came back to Gascony to heal his serious wounds, but was always ‘chomping at the bit’ with impatience to return to the fray, as his courage was handsomely rewarded. Meanwhile, his family responsibilities grew with his first marriage in 1526 producing 4 boys and 3 girls. A second union in 1564 gave him another 3 daughters. At this point he acquired both royal favour and disgrace, one due to his merits and the other because of his fiery disposition. By his own admission he was quick-tempered, a trait moderated on occasion by his diplomatic brother Jean, bishop of Valence (Department of the Drome) altogether a brilliant and more subtle man.
After several false starts, the first religious revolts in Aquitaine broke out in 1561, and on the King’s orders – in reality, those of the Queen Mother, Catherine of MEDICIS – MONLUC energetically led the restoration of royal authority. He was accorded the governorship of Guyenne, until the country’s peace was regained, at which time his title was removed. This saddened him greatly, once again confirming, at his expense, the many deceptions of man.
After ten years of civil war, overshadowed on both sides by bloody episodes, MONLUC was left disillusioned and ageing. By then, he was 70 and had suffered a terrible injury in the siege of Rabastens. However, still ardent in spirit, he wrote his ‘commentaries’ which, rich in concrete detail and practical advice, was hailed as the « Soldiers Bible » by Henry IV.
An abundance of his own correspondence, and that of friends and enemies, illustrates another side of this character, often let down by his contemporaries and by the 19th Century. Later on, he was even compared unfairly to Agrippa of Aubigné, the terrible baron of the Adrets.
MONLUC received the title of Field Marshall of France in 1574, a late reward for a life spent in service to his Kings. He died in 1577.

Château Monluc

Chateau de Monluc : a place full of stories

The Château of Monluc is an exceptional site located on the dominant part of Saint-Puy. It was built on the remains of a 13th century castle. It was the paternal house of Marshal Blaise de Monluc. This castle has endured time and invasions whether at the heart of the reign of the Merovingians and Carolingians, or during the campaign of the King of England.

Brief History of Château de Monluc

The place where the château is located has been frequented since the Neolithic period. Several tools of polished stone fashioned at that time have been found under the terrace which was later to become the « High court » of the castle.

The Gauls made it an oppidum. The name of their tribe: the Garites, would later give its name to the County that would have Saint-Puy as its capital : the County of Gaure.
As to the house, it is one of the oldest in Gascony. Indeed, it is mentioned in the History of the Gauls before 929 and since then has always been inhabited.
The barbarian invasions, during the reign of the Merovingians and Carolingians, a first donjon was built in wood, then in stone. Gradually, a town grew around the château and on the side of the hill. Saint-Puy (or Sempuy) became the capital of Gaure County.

Before 929, Saint Puy belonged to the Duke of Gascony. In 929, a division was made between his 3 grandsons: the 1st had the County of Armagnac with Lectoure, the 2nd had the Fezensac with Vic-Fezensac and the 3rd, the Count Frédelon had the County of Gaure with Saint-Puy.

In 1272, under the reign of Géraud de Casaubon, Count of Gaure, the château and the town were besieged and burned in part by the Count of Armagnac (Lectoure), and then restored by the order of the King of France, Philip the Bold (Philippe le Hardi). At this time there was an English garrison at Saint-Puy as from the 12th to 15th centuries, the country was under the influence of the King of England.

In 1425, King Charles 7th gave the County of Gaure to his cousin, Charles d’Albret. Around 1470, he in turn offered the castle with some land to his faithful « Hostel Maistre » : Pierre de Lasseran-Massencome, Lord of Monluc, great grandfather of Blaise de Monluc.

Blaise de Monluc (1500-1577), great warrior was appointed Marshal of France. Charged by the King to pacify Gascony during the religious wars, he dictated his memoires that he called the « Commentaries », in the same way that Julius Caesar wrote the « Commentaries of the Gallic Wars»

In the 17th century, the fortifications of the town and the castle were dismantled, certainly on the orders of Louis XIV.

In 1720, Monluc’s heirs sold the estate to the Count of Morlan, whose granddaughter, Gabrielle-Minette married Victor Lassus, a member of the current owner’s family, at the end of the 18th century.

The estate, having been sold in 1900, René Lassus bought it back in 1961 to develop his own winegrowing estate.

The revival of wines from the Gascon highlands

The tradition of excellence of wines from the highlands of Gascony is reborn at Monluc

The Monluc vineyard is in full revival today: before our eyes we see the recreation of the ancient vineyard of the Gascon highlands. Ici, vous verrez moins que dans d’autres vignobles plus tempérés des rangs ciselés au cordeau : notre vigne garde sa sauvagerie apparente et son fouillis végétal pour mieux nourrir et abriter ses raisins.

Renowned since the end of the 1st century AD, as recent archaeological finds can attest, it reached its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries thanks to the flourishing trade with northern Europe.
Secondly, trade relations quickly disappeared with the rupture of relations with England, but also the distance of the Gascon highlands from the Atlantic ports and the poor state of the land routes.
onluc sits in the centre of its vines in the highlands, planted on the jagged hillsides with clay limestone soils and exposed to the sun during Gascon summers and to the rains of a hybrid climate.
Westerly winds that fight the Autan gusts, it is more often than not good weather in the Gascon highlands.
Gallo-Roman archaeological sites reveal to us the incredible savoir-faire of the Gascons in the first centuries : nothing has been lost and today we are witnessing the revival of the vineyard.
he genius of the place is that several centuries after its decline, this vineyard shows its full potential in the very place where the Roman veterans and the people of Gascony had planted their beautiful vines.
There is no coincidence in all this, as the lands of the highlands are made of stony soil that dries quickly after the showers and that give the plants the necessary heat and nourishment that suit them.
Also, it is no surprise to discover how the plants of red or white vines acclimatise to such an environment and produce ripe, perfumed grapes that give them the charm, strength, longevity and fruit of the Monluc wines.
The cultivation of vines in high trellises is an old tradition here and best adapted to excellence giving the plant both a better exposure throughout the season, but also provides good protection against the burning afternoon heat at the end of July.