Chateau L’IF is part of Jacques Thienpont’s growing portfolio of Bordeaux estates. Thienpont is a member of the influential Thienpont family of Bordeaux negociants and estate owners. Originally from Belgium, the family has been highly successful in Bordeaux since the 1920s. Jacques Thienpont purchased the twelve-acre Château Le Haut-Plantey in 2010 and renamed it Château L’IF, which roughly translates to Estate of the Yew Tree. The new name was a nod to Thienpont’s famous Pomerol estate Château Le Pin, which means Estate of the Pine Tree. Thienpont is considered an iconoclast who was on the vanguard of the “garagiste” movement in Bordeaux when, in 1979, he acquired Château Le Pin and turned it into a cult Right Bank Bordeaux, known for its outstanding reviews and limited availability. Château L’IF is adjacent to Château Troplong Mondot and has been enlarged by several acres since 2010. Depending on the vintage, the wine is 70 to 90 percent Merlot.
Saint-Émilion is on the east side of the Dordogne River. At 13,400 acres it is one of Bordeaux’s largest appellations, and perhaps its most picturesque. It is also home to what has been called “the garagiste” movement of upstart, tradition-defying winemakers who produce artisanal wines in styles that are unconventional for the appellation. The village of Saint-Émilion dates from the middle ages and it sits on low hills, surrounded by ancient walls. Like its neighbor Pomerol, Saint-Émilion was not included in the famous Bordeaux classification system of 1855. But a century later a ranking system was put in place, and unlike the classification system for the Medoc, the Saint-Émilion system is reviewed every ten years, meaning that estates can be upgraded or downgraded. There are three rankings: Grand Cru Classé, Premier Grand Cru Classé B and Premier Grand Cru Classé A, with the final ranking being the best. Such legendary Saint-Émilion estates as Châteaux Ausone and Cheval-Blanc are Premier Grand Cru Classé A, along with Châteaux Pavie and Angélus, both added to the classification in 2012. Wines in this appellation are primarily Merlot, mixed with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.