This Saint-Emilion estate is steeped in history. It gets its name from the Figeacus family who owned the land here in the second century AD. Some of its doors and window frames date back to the 11th century, and some of its features – including one of the ageing cellars – are from the château’s 16th-century restoration.
It passed through several families over the years, and was rebuilt as we know it today in the 18th century. Since 1892 it has been in the hands of the Manoncourt family.
Much of its more recent success has been down to Thierry Manoncourt, who began his winemaking career there in 1943, and helped develop the wine’s distinctive, elegant style. It was under his leadership that the wine attained its Premier Grand Cru Classé status in 1955, and he is also responsible for the vineyard’s unique configuration, with almost equal parts merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, unmatched in the right bank.
Thierry and his wife Marie-France ran the estate until his death in 2010, assisted from the 1980s by their daughter Laure and her husband Eric d’Aramon. They left the property in 2011 but Marie-France is still in charge to this day, alongside her daughters, with winemaking and vineyard management in the hands of Frédéric Faye since 2002.
The vineyard – 40 hectares in a single block – is to the west of Saint-Emilion near its border with Pomerol, and covers Figeac’s famous three mounds of sandy gravel. This gravel is more commonly found on the left bank and accounts for the higher than usual proportion of cabernet sauvignon for a right bank property. It provides good natural drainage, and both absorbs and reflects the heat well, helping the grapes to ripen smoothly and fully.
Thierry spent decades painstakingly separating the vineyard into several different plots, and the estate’s winemaking continues this attention to detail: grapes are vinified in a selection of both stainless-steel tanks in various sizes and in open-topped conical oak vats. The wine is then aged in 100% new French oak barrels, sourced from up to eight different coopers, for 15 to 18 months.
Vintages of Figeac age superbly well, proving that this is one of the great estates of Saint-Emilion.