At some point in your life, you might have entertained the fantasy of living your life in the most elegant of French Chateaux. Of course, the chateau would look like Cinderella’s castle and would be located on a small hill, high above the village, where people could gaze upon it and wonder about those privileged enough to live there.
See the picture? Here’s more: add a swimming pool, a private pond (with its own bridge), an enormous limestone cave, vineyards, and a family who turned a faded winery into a dynamic enterprise, and you have the story of Chateau Lamothe. Anne Neel, her daughter Maria, and son-in-law Damien are the current owners of this chateau in the Cote de Bordeaux managing three different properties.
Anne enjoyed living in this gorgeous chateau when she was a child, but it wasn’t until 1972 that she and her husband began to produce wine. They started with six hectares of vineyard and now the property covers 85. The three properties are on the slopes of Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux, about five kilometers from one another.
Over a glass of Chateau Manos Cadillac 2003 Reserve, a delicious sweet wine made from 100% Semillion grapes affected by Botrytis Cinerea, we talk about Chateau Manos and their two other wines, Chateau Lamothe de Haux and Chateau Le Giron. Chateau Manos has a golden-yellow color and a subtle bouquet of vanilla, pear, candied apricot, and cinnamon.
Produced only in outstanding years, I discover this 100% Semillion Réserve is sweet but not cloying, as so many botrytised Semillions can be. What is the secret? If I understand Damien correctly, the wine’s bright acidity is a result of some non-botrytised grapes added to the blend. As you can imagine, it takes many passes through the vineyard to select only the ripest grapes from the 60-year-old vines. Fermentation and aging take place in new oak barrels at Château Lamothe's underground cellars for 24 months.
Darien and Anne are proud to tell me that the very excellent 2005 Chateau Manos Cadillac (Bayfield Imports) has been chosen as one of the “100 Top Bordeaux,” as judged by a most esteemed panel of judges, including Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn from Chanterelle right here in New York City, and many distinguished others.
In November 2007, the jury tasted all entries grouped by price in a blind panel. Wines were selected in the top 100 that were an excellent representation of Bordeaux within the given price range of $8 - $35 retail. The “100 Top Bordeaux” program is designed to let the world know that wines from Bordeaux are delicious and reasonably priced for every day drinking, as the wines selected for the program are priced.