Château Haut-Marbuzet 2010, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux

Drunk@home December 2015

The winery

Château Haut-Marbuzet is a Bordeaux wine estate in the Saint-Estèphe appellation area of the Haut-Médoc. 

It was founded in the 18th century, taking its name from Marbuzet, the area where the property resides and  established by Alexander de Segur, who owned several Bordeaux wine properties including another, much better known St. Estephe vineyard, Calon Segur. At his death, the land was divided and sold and in 1825, the land was purchased by the MacCarthy family, who officially established the modern estate as it is known today.

In 1952 after Hervé Duboscq acquired Château Haut-Marbuzet, the focus and reputation of quality increased and his son Henri is now the current owner of the estate.  The Duboscq family also owns two other Bordeaux estates in the St. Estephe, appellation, Chateau Chambert Marbuzet and Tour de Marbuzet.

Initially listed among the Cru Bourgeois in 1932, and later promoted to Grand Bourgeois Exceptionnel in 1978, the estate was classified as one of 9 Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels in the 2003 official listing.  

Located between châteaux Cos d'Estournel and Montrose, the vineyard covers 65 hectares and is planted with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Overlooking the Gironde estuary, it is mainly located on the gravel ridge of Marbuzet and the plateau of Long Treytin with gravel, clay and limestone soils. On average, the vines are close to 30 years of age. 

On average, the estate produces about 30,000 cases of Haut Marbuzet per year. There is a second wine, MacCarthy. A second wine is produced from the vines under 12 years old, under the label Château MacCarthy, which bears the name of the Irish Jacobite family who created the vineyard.

The wine

This 2010 Château Haut-Marbuzet had a powerful blackcurrant nose which continued on the palate with a fruity dark fruit style. Quite high acidity and not the smoothest of finishes meant that a 35 euro price seems excessive. Despite this being a top vintage, pleasant enough but not outstanding. 

Trois Terres Cuvée Moderne 2012, Languedoc, France

Drunk July 2015


The winery

Trois Terres came about after London doctor, Graeme Angus gave up city life in 2000 aged 33, to go to Australia to learn winemaking and viticulture, and eventually settling in Octon in the French Languedoc, where he created the domaine in 2004, with his wife Alice.


Trois Terres first developed on a very small scale, growing little by little to reach its current and probably definitive size of just under 4 hectares. So still a very small operation.


Octon, with its red “ruffes” and basalt, is situated between the schist soils of Faugères and Cabrières in SW France west of Montpellier, and the limestone and chalk soils of the Larzac and its slopes. The winery is central in Octon, with the vineyards principally in Cabrières and Saint Jean de la Blaquière. The winery has been organic since the beginning, but only began the official certification process in 2009 with bottles having the organic logo (“Agriculture Biologique”) from 2012 onwards should they wish.


All but one of the current vineyards are AOC and Organic cultivation methods allow for a balanced mix of plant, insect and animal life (unlike the bare earth monoculture of traditional chemical viticulture still found in so much of the Languedoc).  Graeme and Alice accept slightly lower yields for a minimal impact on the environment.

After the grapes have fermented and macerated they are gently pressed in a traditional vertical wooden caged hydraulic press. The wines are then aged in 2-to-4 year-old French oak barrels, for 8 to 16 months, depending on the wine.


The wine

Cuvee Moderne 2012: contained 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache grapes. 1 week skin contact, 12 months' barrel ageing.Very cold February, warm end of spring and good August rains. To drink now or over the next 5 years.

The Trois Terres Cuvée Moderne 2012 was indeed powerful stuff with a big intensity of blackcurrant and plum fruit. As much as like the organic principles of the winery and Graeme's story is fantastic, the wine lacked a little finesse and the palate felt a little overpowered by fruit and even alcohol which may be a result of excessive ripening perhaps due to very hot weather. Pleasant to drink but only with food (meat or cheese) as in isolation the power of the wine was daunting. I shall continue my exploration of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of SW France.

REVISITED - The Good Doctor's Tonic 2010, McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills, Australia Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Tannat

good doctor

Originally reviewed September 2012, drunk July 2015

Three years on a chance to sample The Good Doctor's Tonic from McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills.

The Winery

The Good Doctor's Tonic comes courtesy of RedHeads Studios in Australia. RedHeads Studio was set up in McLaren Vale in 2002 by Tony Laithwaite of Laithwaite's.  Back in 2010 at the time The Good Doctor was made, the studio was comprised of young winemakers like Adam Hooper (La Curio), Andrew Pieri (Azzardo), growers like Nat McMurtrie (Pikkara) and the local GP Matt Brown who is responsible for the Good Doctor. They work for mainstream growers during their day jobs then come to RedHeads to experiment in their desire to make wines that are different to anything else on the market.


The wine

I love the quirky text on the back of the bottle, "Understand the heart of the Good Doctor. By day, the curer of ills. By night, wine-head. The creator of hedonistic liquid delight. This bold elixir is not for the faint hearted. Enticed by the most intense parcels of fruit. It is smooth yet robust, with longevity to reward the brave. It is sure to enliven the senses and invigorate the soul. Enjoy your measure of the Good Doctor's tonic."

I originally wrote in 2012, "The Good Doctor, Dr. Brown, has delivered indeed in producing a special red wine. its an unusual blend that it includes Tannat, best known for being grown in South West France and Uruguay. Tannat's thick skin produces very tannic wines and in warm climates produces good fruit flavours while still retaining lots of natural acid, a good counterbalance to cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. As the description on the bottle points out, is it long lived with layer after layer of fruity flavours. Black berry on top but with something unusual underneath, almost savoury/bitter. "

Now in July 2015, the tannins have softened further and the wine had extra layers of complexity with the fruit balanced by spicy and savoury notes with the length reassuringly long and pleasant.

Château Fombrauge Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2009, Bordeaux, France

The Winery

Château Fombrauge is the largest Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Emilion with a 58.6 hectare vineyard.The first written mentions of Fombrauge date back to about six centuries ago. In 1466, a medieval squire, named Jacques de Canolle, declares himself Lord of Fombrauge after having acquired the property.

According to historians, his family was descended from Sir Robert Knowles,an  illustrious English Captain. His grand-son, Peter Canolle, succeeded him in 1575 who became burgher of the city of Bordeaux. He rapidly started working to grow his land by planting the first vines. In the late 16th century the Fombrauge Estate formed an alliance with the Dumas family. 

In 1794, the descendant of Jacques Dumas was guillotined and the area became state owned until 1808, until when the children were able to assert their rights on the property. More than a century later, in 1987, Château Fombrauge was sold to a large Danish trading house for 12 years, which limited the sales to the Scandinavian markets.

Bernard Magrez

Bernard Magrez

In 1999 the entrepreneur Bernard Magrez, acquired the Château, developing the vineyard, the cellar, the reception facilities, the house and gardens. to enhance the quality of the estate. Magrez also owns Château La Tour Carnet Grand Cru Classé Haut Médoc, Château Pape Clément Grand Cru Classé  in Graves and Clos Haut-Peyraguey Premier Gran Cru Classé in Sauternes.

In September 2012, the Château received the highest award for the Saint Emilion appellation when it was officially classified as a Grand Cru Classé.

Blending of the grapes varieties is implemented in close collaboration between the teams of Château Fombrauge and the renowned oenologist Michel Rolland.

Michael Rolland

Michael Rolland

The wine

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2009 as well as 2010 are seen as top notch Bordeaux vintages and this 2009 Château Fombrauge is a nice illustration of what was achieved in that vintage with a very nice if not exceptional wine.  It was produced from a blend of a blend of 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The nose was not exceptional but had hints of blackcurrant and cherry and after a few hours the wine exhibited some very pronounced fruit notes on the palate, with tannins firmly in check and a nice overall balance making it very drinkable. Plenty of raspberry and blackcurrant with hints of vanilla.

At £27 this 2009 Fombrauge was not outrageously priced given its Grand Cru Classé status and good vintage and was a very pleasant Bordeaux which would be wonderful on a cold winters night with a good casserole.

La Curio The Nubile Grenache Shiraz 2010, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Drunk November 2013

The winery

Redheads Studio was established in 2003 is about an hour south of Adelaide, with the philosophy being Artisanship. The name was originally from a curry house restaurant which was the former occupier of the site. Redheads is a place where winemakers can go and experiment with their own ideas and make small batches of wine. The winemakers involved usually have a day job and go to Redheads to be free of their own winery's restrictions. A "Garagiste" approach which has produced some great wines. 

See earlier reviews on RedHeada wines:

Pieri Azzardo

The Good Doctor's Tonic

La Curio was produced by Elena Golakova Adam Hooper, making their wines at Redheads. The two young producers are passionate about the wine they make, the region they live in and the lifestyle it provides. Golakova describes her passion as "winemaking is art". Adam has worked for such notable companies as Penfolds, Geoff Merrill Wines, Tatachilla Winery and Maxwell Wines. 

Wine is fermented in rain water tanks cut in half to allow open fermentation. Relationships are fostered with the regions' best growers and fruit is crushed and fermented in small batches. Experimentation seems the norm, wild yeasts are trialled. 'Taking risks can be scary but ultimately rewarding,' Hooper said.

One of his techniques involves freezing fermenting fruit with dry ice (a lot of it) to drop the temperature of the must. This smashes the cell walls in the skins and facilitates the extraction of colour and a subtle tannin profile. But Hooper says while this method is labour intensive, not to mention all the plunging involved with the open fermenters, the results are worth it.


The wine

The La Curio The Nubile is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Shiraz, the classic combination of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Deep crimson in the glass with strong aromas of cedar and vanilla. The palate is full of cherry and plums with a hint of spice. A long finish with balanced soft grainy tannins and acidity.  Another very nice and interesting wine from the RedHeads folk!