Château Sociando-Mallet is one of those châteaux which makes a mockery of the 1855 classification of the Médoc. Never entered into the classification of cru classé châteaux, and subsequently classified as a cru bourgeois in 1932, this estate consistently turns out wines which outshine those produced by many of its more illustrious neighbours. This apparent error was further highlighted in 2003 when a revised Cru Bourgeois classification was drawn up, led by the nine Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. Château Sociando-Mallet was nowhere to be seen – the confident proprietor Jean Gautreau opting instead to remain outside of the system, perhaps feeling that participation would actually lower the standing of his château, but perhaps also discouraged by some of the petty politics that seemed to surround the process.
Today Jean Gautreau (pictured below) continues to fly solo, neither cru bourgeois nor cru classé. He remains firmly in charge here, until recently supported by Vincent Faure, who fulfilled the role not only of technical director, but also of son-in-law. Sadly Vincent left for pastures new in 2015, and the running of the domaine is now largely the responsibility of the new technical director François Huguenot. And there is no sign of progress on the domaine slowing down; with continued investment in both cellars and vineyard, Château Sociando-Mallet remains one of the must-visit estates in Bordeaux, producing one of its must-taste wines.
The history of Château Sociando-Mallet extends back at least as far as the early 17th century, as records reveal that the estate was the residence of a Basque nobleman named Sossiondo (the obvious origin of Sociando) in 1633. Otherwise the ancient history of the estate is sketchy, although the owner at the time of Revolution is known to have been a prominent lawyer named Guillaume de Brochon, an unfortunate individual who was prosecuted and stripped of his estate, which was then broken up for sale. The new proprietor was a gentleman named Lamothe, although it subsequently passed to a naval captain by the name of Achille Mallet, and thus the property was renamed Château Sociando-Mallet. From then on the estate was passed from pillar to post, through the hands of a sequence of owners, the cumulative effect being a gradual deterioration in its condition. Writing in Grands Vins (University of California Press, 1995), Clive Coates tells us that Captain Mallet’s widow sold the estate to man named Alaret, then it went to Léon Simon, the négociant firm Delor, a local mayor known by the name of Louis Roullet and lastly François Téreygéol, an official working for the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO). It was this latter proprietor who sold the estate to Jean Gautreau in 1969.