“How do you guys make your Bordeaux selections?” We may have heard that question once or twice before. Our usual answer is that we buy the majority of our Bordeaux selections En Primeur, or as futures, shortly after the barrel samples for the wines are presented to the trade. Sometimes, we also buy additional stocks after bottling, either as a result of one of our suppliers shipping over sample bottles to choose from, or if I taste something too good to pass up when I meet with negociants while attending the tastings. It’s not often when we buy Bordeaux from another importer. But, just like all rules, there are (have been) exceptions.
We have demonstrated over the years that it pays to peruse close-out lists that different distributors send out periodically. To the trained eye, it doesn’t take very much time, and should something stick out to us, we are quick to respond and scoop up any berries worth scooping. My workstation is the only workstation next to Anya’s (I know, poor Anya), so as I was busy typing away one morning, Anya casually turned and asked me if I tasted the 2009 Château de Malleret. It is documented that I am a big fan of their 2010. What’s not documented, until now, is what happened after I tasted (and loved) the 2010.
After each En Primeurs trip to Bordeaux, it is customary to meet with David and discuss the vintage and talk about the wines I tasted, especially any stand-outs. When I returned from the trip in April of 2014, there was one wine that stood out from the rest, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc. There are so many producers in Bordeaux that it’s not unusual to taste wines that I’m unfamiliar with. Malleret was one of those producers. As I was tasting the wine, I asked the negociant where the chateau was located. He informed me it was in the southernmost part of the Haut-Médoc, south of La Lagune and a bit west of the D2 roadway. He then went on to say that his brother had his wedding reception there, as many do, because the grounds are so beautiful. I knew we would be buying good quantities of the 2010 after I returned, so I did a little more research when I arrived back in SF. I discovered that we actually had one bottle of the 2000 vintage in-stock for a ridiculously low price. I bought it and took it home. One word: stellar! Turns out that the bottle was from David’s private cellar and he had another bottle at home. In my world, to enjoy it fully, wine is meant to be shared. So rather than to be selfish, I recommended that David taste it himself, perhaps with one of his tasting groups. I’m still waiting for the report …
Now you’re all up to speed on where my head was when Anya asked me about the 2009. The answer was that I hadn’t tasted it, but considering the litany of emails/blog posts I composed regarding the 2009 Bordeaux vintage, and my recent experience with Malleret from two other outstanding Bordeaux vintages, this was about as risk-free as one can get. Factoring in the crazy closeout price makes the 2009 Malleret another sweet deal from our petits chateaux section. Château de Malleret definitely has a house style. One gets a sense of their terroir in every swirl, sniff, and taste. Their style suits my palate well, I love the old school aromas of tobacco, forest floor, and earthy mineral. The 2009 is a user-friendly vintage with excellent weight and fruit expression, and the Malleret has just the right amount of ripe fruit to sit atop the old school structure. Not overbearing nor clunky, the palate is full bodied, yet all in balance with a finish that combines the fruit, structure, and herbal profile.
Here’s what Neal Martin had to say about the 2009 Château de Malleret:
“Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The de Malleret 2009 has a well-defined cedar and briary-scented bouquet with crisp blackberry and dark plum fruit interlaced with cedar. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannins but a very edgy, vibrant finish with lively black fruits that are just slightly clipped on the finish. Otherwise, a very good effort. Tasted September 2011. 89 points”
If you enjoy a great deal on a red Bordeaux, or if you have enjoyed a bottle or two of the 2010 Château de Malleret, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of their 2009. It just makes sense! – Peter Zavialoff