Le Dôme, 2011 – 2018
The bright spring sunshine flooded in through the window, the beams of dust-swirled sunlight illuminating a room filled with traditional French furniture and all the trappings of provincial French life. The year was 1997, and just three years had passed since Jonathan Maltus had purchased this property, Château Teyssier. During those three short years Jonathan had been too busy building up his portfolio of vineyards to pay much attention to his domestic environment; he simply had not the time nor the necessary finances to remodel or redecorate, or to fill his new home with all the rock-themed paraphernalia that you would find if you visited the property today, twenty-five years later.
Jonathan perched uneasily in one corner of the room. Near the far corner, standing by the window, his form an inky silhouette against the sunlight, was a lone visitor. His name was Hew Blair, of the London wine merchant Justerini & Brooks, and he had just finished tasting Jonathan’s small but growing portfolio of wines, in the 1996 vintage. They had begun with the wine of Château Teyssier, from vines gathered close around Jonathan’s new home, but they had finished with a newly introduced cuvée, a wine that could only be described as something of a gamble.
Keen to up his viticultural game, only a year-or-so earlier Jonathan had rolled the dice on a small parcel of vines right next to Château Angélus. Having visited and inspected the site in the dead of winter, he purchased the parcel – barely a few hectares of vines – almost on the spot. After all, how could he go wrong? A small cuvée of Merlot from the slopes of the prestigious limestone plateau, to complement the more affordable wine made from the low-lying sandy soils around Château Teyssier, would certainly help to balance the books. But there was a twist to this tale; come summertime, it became apparent that the parcel was planted not solely to Merlot, but also Cabernet Franc. Indeed, it was mostly Cabernet Franc, with very little Merlot at all. Jonathan had little choice but to go with the flow; he picked and made a Cabernet-dominant cuvée, a misfit in a Merlot world.
Who would buy this curious cuvée? Jonathan really didn’t know, and weighing heavily on his mind were thoughts of the not inconsiderable loan he had taken out to buy the vines. But all he could do was wait, and see what other people thought of the wine. And at least now someone had – finally – come to taste it. The air hung heavy with anticipation.
Breaking the silence, Hew’s voice rang out across the room. “I will buy all of it, but I want exclusivity”.
And in that moment, Le Dôme was born.