Let’s raise a glass to May-Eliane de Lencquesaing’s wonderful ...

Lifestyle

Let’s raise a glass to May-Eliane de Lencquesaing’s wonderful legacy

After years of toil in what was an unforgiving industry, wine’s grande dame has just enjoyed her 95th birthday

Michael Fridjhon

Recently, the grande dame of wine celebrated her 95th birthday. That May-Eliane de Lencquesaing’s anniversary took place in Stellenbosch is only partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Her connection with the Cape goes back to the mid-19th century, when her English great-great-grandfather, en route to London from the Philippines, stopped off in Table Bay. Her autobiography, now nearing completion, is structured on this symmetry: though her life in wine began in Bordeaux,  France, Glenelly, her estate in Stellenbosch, has become its destination.

Her father and uncle owned or had shares in several of the Médoc’s most prestigious estates, including Chateaux Pichon Lalande (which she inherited), Ducru-Beaucaillou, Palmer, Siran, Dauzac and Coufran. Unfortunately, her youth coincided with the worst possible time to own wine properties in France. Quoting a saying from that era, she once ruefully remarked that “the more chateaux you own, the poorer you are”...

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