I first visited the Château Lagrézette in Caillac in the Lot region in 1979. At that time it was like Sleeping Beauty's castle - surrounded by trees, and covered in Virginia creeper and brambles. Léon, a Basque caretaker was still living there.
The château is located on an incline, its architecture is perfectly balanced, symmetrical and 100% Renaissance. It was built in 1430 although other parts were added around 1500, notably a 23-metre stone spiral staircase in the hexagonal tower. I also discovered beautifully carved door and window frames. Even though it was in a terrible state of repair, I knew I wanted to own it.
The 93-year-old vendor warned me: “It needs four million old Francs spending on it.” My site manager whispered in my ear: “More like 40 million new Francs!” It took twelve years to carry out the very extensive renovations.
Mainly because I wanted it to be restored by the very best artisans. The work was fascinating. And the château became my family home. I’ve also organised many wine-themed functions here. As an art collector, I have been able to acquire paintings for the château from the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as contemporary artworks. The château is surrounded by 40 hectares of grapevines. Monsieur Pradel, one of the winemakers from the village, and the future mayor, informed me: “Your château is surrounded by land with an exceptional terroir.” So, I asked him to take charge.
Today, thanks to his help and that of wine expert Michel Rolland, we have developed incredible terroirs such as the ‘Pigeonnier’, one of the best ranked wines by Parker in France. In addition to the pride I feel for the wine produced from this land, which is known as the best Malbec (Cahors), my true happiness comes from having brought the Château Lagrézette back to life.
Renovating this estate has made it possible to indulge my combined love of architecture, art and wine.
Alain Dominique Perrin, Executive Director of the Compagnie Financière Richemont