A Harvest Visit to Château Sociando-Mallet, 2012

I spent the first week of October 2012 in Bordeaux, and happily I managed to catch some harvest activity (unlike 2011 when I visited later in the month – and the harvest had finished, even in Sauternes). I have posted a few comments already, but I decided that I should post some more structured reports, especially as many of my visits involved not only an assessment of progress with the 2012 harvest, but were often accompanied by a tour and general update on the estate in question. Not only that, but most visits were capped by a tasting of recent vintages, usually 2010 and 2009, once I had finished tasting fruit from the vines, and the musts and embryonic wines of the 2012 vintage of course. Some of the domaines I visited were very familiar, and some entirely new to me. These latter visits were frequently real eye-openers, and I may have to change my opinion of what can be achieved not only on the sandy palus of St Emilion, but also in the unloved satellites of the same appellation, specifically Montagne St Emilion, and even reconsider the evils of machine harvesting. I start here, however, with one of the domaines with which I am most familiar; Château Sociando Mallet.

Sociando-Mallet, 2012

It was clear to see upon arrival that the Sociando-Mallet team, led by proprietor Jean Gautreau – who has single-handedly established the reputation of this unclassified estate since his purchase of it in 1969 – and technical director (and son-in-law) Vincent Faure were no longer in a mood for watching and waiting. In the distance, among the vines directly in front of the tasting room, parallel with the Gironde, was a small battalion of pickers.

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