Carvings at Bordeaux Château Point to World War I Love Stories

Published: 19 March 2024

By Collin Dreizen
via the Wine Spectator website

quarry at Barbe Blanch

The quarry at Barbe Blanch was a known hangout for American soldiers and their French girlfriends during World War I. (Les Vignobles André Lurton)

The romance between U.S. soldiers and French women lives on thanks to graffiti in the limestone quarry of Château de Barbe Blanche

Wine is a natural match for date nights, and it has been throughout history. Don’t believe us? Look to France, the global capital of love: Earlier this month, the team at Bordeaux’s Château de Barbe Blanche announced it had deciphered historic inscriptions found on the estate, and they point to century-old romances.

In 2019, staff at the Lussac-St.-Emilion winery (which has been co-owned by the family of late vintner André Lurton since 2000) discovered graffiti carved into the walls of the limestone quarry where the château ages its reds in barrels. They set out to decode the carvings and, after months of examination, found them to be from primarily 1919 and 1918. So who left these petroglyphs?

Evidence of American Lovers Come and Gone

As you may have guessed, given those years, the inscriptions are linked to World War I. The United States deployed troops to France in 1917, and some of these soldiers (known as “Sammies” by French locals) wound up in a war hospital in Lussac, about half a mile from Barbe Blanche.

An American soldier inscribed his presumable hometown into a wall at Barbe Blanche during World War I. (Les Vignobles André Lurton)

As sometimes happens, a number of those men also found love during that time, and Barbe Blanche’s quarry proved a charming date spot for them and their local paramours. “The inscriptions are of American states where the soldiers came from, and the names of some of the soldiers,” Vignobles André Lurton chairman and head winemaker Jacques Lurton (son of André Lurton) told Wine Spectator via email; this includes inscriptions like “Tulsa, Okla,” and “U.S.A.”

Many of these relationships did not survive, but some did. According to a statement from Barbe Blanche, Lussac celebrated about 10 “Franco-American marriages” at this time. Will Barbe Blanche be able to identify any of the carvers? Per Lurton, “We are currently working on it, and have interviewed [a] neighbor whose grannie was one of the girls to marry and go to America.”

Read the entire article on the Wine Spectator website here:

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