It was back in 1985 that Andrew Gordon, an English wine merchant, found himself seduced by the vineyards of the Côtes de Duras. Having visited the region back in 2012, I can understand the appeal; I found the combination of Bordeaux varieties, good soils and nice prices were hard to resist. It is a region with a huge amount of potential.
Andrew Gordon put his money where his mouth is, and bought an estate, the Domaine du Grand Mayne. More than 30 years later, he and his team have a 34-hectare vineyard, and they turn out a range of wines mainly following the Bordeaux model of blending Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
I recently tasted four wines from this interesting domaine.
Domaine du Grand Mayne Sauvignon Blanc (Côtes de Duras) 2016: Machine-picked, vinified in stainless steel after skin contact for a small proportion of the crop, then four months on the lees. Bottled under screw cap. A pale straw hue in the glass. A nose of sweet orchard fruit, pears, white peach, tangerine and chalk dust. There follows a sweetly ripe and substantial palate, with a deliciously citric and pithy energy, giving it a firm and savoury backbone, along with a tingly acidity to balance out the ripe pear juice sweetness. Good concentration and weight to it, and some charming length with a little bitter twist. Good. 15.5/20 • 91/100 (November 2017)
Domaine du Grand Mayne Sauvignon Semillon Réserve (Côtes de Duras) 2015: Picked a few days later, then skin contact and vinification in new oak barrel. Bottled under natural cork. A slightly richer but still pale straw hue here. Intensely sweet fruit on the nose, all lime and lemon curd, swirled with smoke and sweet new oak. It all feels very sweet, succulent and punchy. The palate matches up to the integrity and sweetness of the nose with ease, being crammed full of pithy citrus fruit, lemon curd and apricot skin, with a rather tannic frame of oak, giving the finish a rich but slightly drying character, long and pithy but grippy with oak tannin. An ambitious wine, one which I think needs another two or three years in bottle, in the hope the fruit absorbs some of that oak. 16.5/20 • 93/100 (November 2017)
Domaine du Grand Mayne Merlot Cabernet (Côtes de Duras) 2015: Machine-picked, vinified in stainless steel, with a short extraction for colour but not tannin. An oak-free élevage. Bottled under screw cap, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Wonderfully expressive fruit on the nose, crushed red cherry and red plum, with the succulent suggestion of cherry stone. The palate follows through on this initial promise, blending a vinous, slightly sinewy texture, with the succulent bite of cherry stone and some purely expressed red cherry fruit. Absolutely delicious, vibrant composition, very honest, not overdone, with loads of easy-drinking charm. 15/20 • 91/100 (November 2017)
Domaine du Grand Mayne Merlot Cabernet Réserve (Côtes de Duras) 2015: A selection, vinified slightly warmer, macerated for longer, and then élevage in oak including 25% new wood. Bottled under natural cork. A slightly dusty red hue, and a nose of slightly baked fruits, with scents of cooked wild strawberry, violet and pepper. This is matched by a rather velvety substance to the palate, veering towards a slightly oily substance, carrying the flavours of cooked fruits, strawberries and baked cherries, with a lightly sour acid wash on the finish. It feels ambitious and overdone, the fruit lacking in definition. I prefer the cleaner and keener lines of the entry-level cuvée. 13.5/20 • 87/100 (November 2017)
Disclosure: These wines were samples sent by Domaine du Grand Mayne.