Fine Art Meets Fine Wine at Château Thénac

Fine Art Meets Fine Wine at Château Thénac

The historic estate is marking a major anniversary with a limited-edition cuvée, and a collaboration with celebrated artist Kathryn Maple
The historic estate is marking a major anniversary with a limited-edition cuvée, and a collaboration with celebrated artist Kathryn Maple

W inemaking has been essential to Château Thénac for more than nine centuries. This history dates to precisely 1109, when Benedictine monks chose to plant vineyards on this exceptional site, located in the rolling countryside of the Dordogne, east of Bordeaux. A key turning point came in 1621, when the priory was swept away by the Huguenot rebellion. A new castle, erected on the site’s ruins, was passed on from generation to generation, until current owners the Shvidler family settled in, in 2001.

House and vineyard with lake in the foreground
A view of the Château Thénac estate Photo: Château Thénac
Wine barrels with a crest and Château Thénac written on them
A view inside the barrel store at Château Thénac Photo: Château Thénac

To mark the first 20 years of the family’s ownership and to celebrate its 400 years as a private estate, the château is launching a new cuvée. Named 1621 and only available in magnum format, this unique vintage draws from two emblematic plots – Blanquine, for the merlot, and Pigniers, for the cabernet sauvignon. “Both can produce wines that combine the power of tannins with a great finesse, which is highlighted by the purity of the aromas, says the château’s wine director, Stéphane Guillot. “Even before the harvest, when we taste the grapes, we can already imagine [the potential of] this combination”.

The merlot and cabernet sauvignon were harvested at their optimal maturity. Respectful of the quality of the grapes, the vinification process consisted of gentle pumping over – a process used to increase the amount of tannins and colours drawn from the skins. After three weeks of maceration came the devatting, and then maturing stage in new barrels of French oak, which took 18 months. The bottling was carried out without any filtration or fining – a method used to help further clarify wine – so as not to alter the tannin structure. Guillot proudly adds that 1621, which is a 2019 vintage, has a great capacity for aging – at least 20 years.

Bottle of wine featuring a label depicting a landscape with a house, trees, ducks and more
Château Thénac's 1621 bottle with artwork created by Kathryn Maple Photo: Château Thénac

As part of the celebration the château has commissioned London-based artist Kathryn Maple to design a label and a box for the magnums, of which only 900 will be produced. Maple was the first prize winner of the 2020 John Moores Painting Prize, following in the footsteps of masters such as David Hockey and Peter Doig; she also won the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in 2014 and 2016. “Kathryn’s style and individuality resonated with us and we were delighted to produce her work,” says managing director Oliver Lister. “We are extremely proud of the end result.”

Woman sitting in studio with artworks and paint behind her
Karthyn Maple Courtesy: the artist

Maple, whose initial visits to the site were virtual due to Covid restrictions, describes her final watercolour as “a tapestry or a collage of different views across the lake, hills and vineyards leading up to the château.” She adds: “With fluid paint strokes I hope the eye keeps searching across the painting – like Thénac, [it is] a landscape that does not give you all at once but keeps you discovering.” This is the first time Château Thénac has worked with an artist, but Lister confirms that if the project is a success, such collaborations could start to take place on an annual basis.

The 1621 Magnums can be pre-ordered now from the Château by emailing

LEAD IMAGE: A view of the Château Thénac estate. Photo: Château Thénac

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