Grafé Lecocq, the last winemaker in Belgium
Located in the heart of Namur, 150-year-old Grafé Lecocq is Belgium's last remaining winemaker. The story began in 1879, when 20-year-old Henry and his wife Léontine started their wine business. At the time, Belgium was home to a large number of companies involved in viticulture, trading, maturing and bottling.
Henry had the idea of putting his wife's name, "Lecocq", on the sign on their shop. They initially concentrated on Burgundy and Bordeaux wines. Subsequent generations developed relationships of trust with prestigious châteaux such as Pétrus, Cheval Blanc and Léoville-Las Cases, maturing and bottling their wines in Namur cellars until the 1960s-70s, when these châteaux decided to only dispatch bottles bearing their own labels.
Despite this change, Bernard Grafé maintains close relations with these châteaux and discreetly buys barrels of their wines, which are combined into a special range called "Florilège". The business's classic catalogue is made up exclusively of French wines.
Each year, Bernard travels to France for the buying campaign, taking part in the Hospices de Beaune sale in November and then making two prospecting trips to different wine-growing regions. He blind-tastes hundreds of wines to assess their vintage and select them according to a range of criteria.
During the ageing phase, each wine is treated individually, with specific care given to the choice of wood, ageing time, clarification, racking, collage, micro-oxygenation, filtration and bottling. The acquisition of oak barrels is essential for maturing wines for 6 to 12 months.
Grafé Lecocq's cellars are spread over two sites: the ageing cellars under the Citadelle of Namur and the conservation cellars under the Cathedral and the Palais de Justice. The wines are stored in optimal conditions, with constant humidity levels and stable temperatures.
The company preserves ancient traditions and the art of maturing, honouring its status as the last winemaker in Belgium.