The kirwan story
So, where does the strange-sounding name ‘Kirwan’ actually come from? It has a more northern ring to it than these vines growing on the Cantenac plateau. In fact, it is a relic from Bordeaux’s golden age, because the chateau bears the name of a long line of Irish wine merchants. Mark Kirwan inherited the estate in 1760, when he married one of the daughters of Sir John Collingwood, an English wine merchant in Bordeaux.
The wines of the property already had a sound reputation. Their fame grew as the reputation was confirmed. The new owner gave the estate his name, so that foreign merchants would better pick out his wines, because they sounded less French. Thomas Jefferson himself, a knowledgeable wine enthusiast, classified the estate’s wines as a second-rank growth, while he was U.S. Ambassador to France. He gave the name his own idiosyncratic pronunciation and spelling: “Quirouen”.