Wouldn’t it be interesting to take a snapshot of the past? On a recent trip to Bordeaux, I visited many of the same Chateaus as our third president, Thomas Jefferson. It was so interesting to see the same topography, taste the “same” wines, and read his experiences of over 200 years ago.
The region is visually virtually the same. Drive through Cotes de Bourg and you will see rolling limestone hills, wineries off the side of a winding road, and an austere dense forest. Merlot grows well here on the limestone soils. Today, winemaking is both an art and a science, rendering even a modest $10 wine from this region an incredible value.
Why so affordable? Perhaps it’s because the Cotes de Bourg, being outside the Medoc, was not part of the 1855 classification of wine. This classification structured wines of the Medoc into five growths, or categories, and the new vintages of wines from the best First Growth Chateaux today sell for as much as $10,000 a case.
Bourg is understandably proud of their wine. To discover more about this under-rated appellation, I visited some wineries here. One was Chateau Haut Maco, founded by the brothers Jean and Bernard Mallet.
Why this Chateau? Perhaps I was channeling Thomas Jefferson when I performed a Google search on the Internet about wineries in Bourg and came across the winery’s blog. The topic was the harvest of 2007: ”Everything goes well, clusters bloom despite a completely abnormal weather, but a micro climate protects us from a fall in temperatures which would be disastrous for the smooth functioning of this phase if important to the lives of our vines.”
What drama! The lives of the vines were at stake! I had to see this blog entry in real life.
At the Chateau I was met by Jean-Clad Hugues Mallet, who very proudly showed me around his family’s extensive vineyards and modern winery. The property includes 49 hectares including 60 percent Merlot, 35 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and five percent Cabernet Franc.
The son of Jean Mallet, Hugues worked a harvest in Sonoma, California, spoke great English, and seemed keen on taking over the winery. After describing his 74 blocks of vines, pointing out that the best soil and grapes is found on the hillside, we tasted his wines.
The tasting room of Chateau Maco is quite modern and beautiful, glamorous enough to be the site of many catered dinners for groups and clients. It overlooks the barrels of aging Bordeaux in the cave below. I watched as he opened a flight of the 2003 vintage. First to taste was the Cuvee Jean Bernard, a spicy wine with notes of cherry. Next was Chateau Haut Maco, with bright, spicy red berry aromas. As a treat we tried the 2000 Haut Maco, with similar flavors, but smoother and silkier from age.
Bourg wines are quite a value. Ask about them at your local wine store. When in Bourg, make a reservation to visit this Chateau. It is quite an experience.