[Wines & History] Léonce Bocquet - the emperor of Burgundy wines.
Considered as the emperor of wine, Léonce Bocquet (1839-1913) was the supplier of Burgundy wines to the great courts of Europe. Provocative and exuberant, this great lover of luxury gave the Château du Clos de Vougeot its letters of nobility.
The son of wine merchants and growers in Savigny-lès-Beaune, Léonce Bocquet took over and developed the family business. With a considerable fortune at his disposal and the acquisition of renowned plots of land, he quickly found himself at the head of a wine empire of nearly 20 hectares in the Côtes de Nuits and Beaune.
In 1880, he had new buildings built in Savigny-lès-Beaune for the vinification and maturing of his wines. Now owned by the Maison Henri de Villamont, the architecture and colours of the building stand out in the Burgundian landscape, making it one of the most beautiful wine-making buildings of its time.
Forerunner of the luxury market
Although the details of his business are not known, Léonce Bocquet recorded significant sales volumes given the phylloxera crisis that decimated the vineyards at the end of the 1870s and the reputation of the wines that followed. Playing on the prestige of his estate and the excellence of his wines, Léonce Bocquet sold his vintages on the luxury micro-market and on royal tables. Supplier to Queen Victoria, he is a friend of the lords, dukes and barons of the English court, but also of Russian dukes or William II in Germany.
In order to emphasise the exceptional character of his wines, his labels show his identity, the plot of land and his ownership status.
"Léonce Bocquet - Château du Clos de Vougeot. Sole owner of the Clos de Vougeot Jules Ouvrard brands and seals".
When one considers that the first law on appellations of origin was not published until 1919 and the labelling rules much later, there is no doubt that Léonce Bocquet was a visionary.
This valuable annotation opened the doors to the upper echelons of Europe. Indeed, beyond the historical heritage, Léonce Bocquet benefited from the respected image of the Clos de Vougeot under the aegis of the previous owners: the Rochechouart-Ouvard, one of the most respected families in the wealthy circles of the European bourgeoisie.
Bocquet and the Clos de Vougeot
In 1889, Léonce Bocquet acquired the Château du Clos de Vougeot and nearly 15 hectares of the grand cru, thus saving this emblematic monument of the history of Burgundy wines from ruin. In love with the château, he devoted the rest of his life to its restoration.
Extravagant, passionate and with a certain gift for public relations, Léonce Bocquet did not hesitate to spend exuberantly to welcome his distinguished guests, such as President Sadi Carnot or Sarah Bernhardt, to the Château du Clos de Vougeot,
When he died in 1913, he was buried in front of the Château du Clos de Vougeot that he had loved so much. Unfortunately, his success story was short-lived. The monetary crisis of 1910, followed by the Great War and its economic consequences, coupled with a multitude of expenses by his son-in-law, Henri Gauthey, far from any profitable investment, brought the family to the brink of ruin.