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. 

Baron Edmond De Rothschild Chateau Clarke Listrac-Medoc 2009, Bordeaux, France

Drunk @ home October 2015

The winery

The origins of the Château Clarke estate date back to the 12th century when the Cistercian monks of the Vertheuil Abbey first planted vines. In 1818  the knight Tobie Clarke purchased the land that would permanently bear his name. The Château is rare since it is known for the quality of its great red wine but also for its white wine and whose production began around 1890 under the name "Merle Blanc Château Clarke" 

After being repeatedly handed down and finally sold, the property was bought in 1973 by the Baron Edmond de Rothschild. 

He decided to redraw the vineyard: existing vines are uprooted and replanted in full. Started in 1974, the process ended in 1979, with the first vintage of Château Clarke being bottled in 1978.

In 1998, Benjamin de Rothschild took over the running of the Château together with the ooenologist Michel Rolland.

The estate of Château Clarke is in the south of the Médoc on the Listrac-Médoc, in the centre of the limestone plateau and West of the Gironde estuary. The area has limestone clay soil providing outstanding resistance to drought and the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean provides maritime influences typical of the Bordeaux region.  The soil is particularly suitable for the cultivation of Merlot in a region where traditionally the Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant. 

The vast majority of land is dedicated to the cultivation of red grapes on 55 hectares and Merlot represents 70% of the plantings. This is supplemented by Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, which make up the assemblage of Merle Blanc, are grown on just 3 hectares, for a limited production.

The wine

  • Hand picking, hand selection of the grapes (before and after destemming)
  • Merlot : 6th to 16th of October 2009
  • Cabernet Sauvignon : 20th to 23rd of October 2009
  • Vating by gravity, cold maceration, vinification in wooden vat and stainless steel tanks. Pumping over and pigeage. Automatic thermoregulation system. Micro oxygenation in tank. Malo-lactic fermentation in new french oak barrels.
  • Ageing 70% in new barrels, rest in second fill barrels. Duration : 16 months
  • 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol 13.5 %

Fermented Grape tasting notes

2009 was a very good year in Bordeaux (together with 2010) with very expressive, fruity wines and this Château Clarke 2009 is no exception. A powerful silky wine with strong blackcurrant and black cherry on the nose and palate with herby notes in evidence and a long satisfying finish. This was easy drinking wine with tannins and acidity nicely in balance with the fruit. Very enjoyable, though on the expensive side (£30). 

Château Lucas Lussac Saint-Emilion 2010, Bordeaux, France

Drunk September 2015 @ home

The winery

Château Lucas is located in  Lussac Saint Emilion in Gironde fifty kilometers northeast of Bordeaux and has been run and owned by Frédéric Vauthier, for the last 20 years.  The AOC "Lussac Saint-Émilion" is close to the town of Lussac.

The estate is named after the place called "Lucas" with links to the English presence in the region, between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries following the marriage (in 1152) of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry Plantagenet King of England from 1154.

Lucas Castle was owned by the same family who owned the Abbey of Faize in recognition of loyal service to the king and ownership ceded to an ancestor of Vauthier in the late sixteenth century.

The estate is around 20 hectares, and the average age of vines is 35 years. Soils are clay loam and limestone, with rock outcropping averaging 40 cm. The blue clay is Montmorillonite and is the characteristic terroir of Saint-Emilion.

The wine

  • Area: 8-10 hectares, Annual production: 40 000 to 70 000 bottles
  • Soil: clay loam calcareous
  • Average age of vines: 25 years
  • Crop mode: reasoned fight without insecticides or weedkiller
  • Grape harvest machine and manual
  • Winemaking: reassembly and shedding at 28-30 ° C / 15-21 days maceration
  • Ageing 80% vats, 20% old barrels
  • Grapes: 50% Merlot - 50% Cabernet Franc

Fermented Grape tasting notes

This was an easy drinking Bordeaux from a good vintage 2010 and for the price very enjoyable at around £11 a bottle. Lacking harsh tannins or excess acidity, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc were expressed as plenty of plum,  and blackcurrant silky tannins with a nice long finish. Of course not the most sophisticated, but I can't see anyone complaining if you served this at a dinner party. It shows even value Bordeaux can be good when the vintage helps the fruit.

Château Pédesclaux 2010 5ème Cru Classé , Pauillac, Bordeaux, France

Drunk August 2015 @ home (Brittany holiday Larmor Plage)

Château Pédesclaux


The winery

Château Pédesclaux is now a 50 hectare estate located in Pauillac, Bordeaux in Western France with its vines growing next to Lafite and Mouton, with the average age of the vines being 35 years. As part of the 1855 Bordeaux classification is was made a fifth growth.

Château Pédesclaux 2010 map

The Château  has quite a history. In 1821 Pierre Urbain Pédesclaux, a wine broker activity buys parcels of land from a Mousieur Lacoste, owner of Chateau Grand Puy Pauillac. In 1841 a cellar is constructed in the centre of Pauillac with the vineyard covers 7.80 hectares. By 1849 poor investment decisions by Pierre Urbain Pédesclaux forced him to transfer ownership to his son Pierre-Edmond. In 1872 following the death of Pierre-Edmond Pédesclaux, his widow, Gabriel Gastebois, took control and in 1883, she bought land from the Cruse family, owner of Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac.

In 1930 the heirs of Gabriel Gastebois entrusted the management of the domain to Lucien Jugla, a family associated with the Medoc from the Middle Ages. By this time the cellars had become obsolete and were in a bad way.

In 1965 following the death of Lucien Jugla, he property passed to his five children.The eldest, Bernard Jugla, became manager. In 1970 he bought another castle located close to Pédesclaux, Colombier-Monpelou. In 1996 he handed over to his son and his brother's wife. Colombier-Monpelou was sold in 2007 to Mouton-Rothschild

In 2009 the owners of Château Lilian Ladouys (Saint-Estèphe) since 2008, Jacky Lorenzetti and Françoise acquired Pédesclaux by which time was very neglected. They began to invest heavily in infrastructure and people to develop the quality of the wines and acquired vineyard area from Château Haut-Milon, neighbour Mouton and Lafite, and Château and vineyards Béhèré.



Lorenzetti  is trying to move production from merlot dominance to the more classic Pauillac Cabernet Sauvignon with current planting 47% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine

Château Pédesclaux building

The 2010 growing season was extremely dry so the grapes were small with thick skins concentrating fruit and tannins. The summer was also warm, so sugar levels reached quite high levels, especially in the Médoc. Cool nights in August and September helped to maintain a high level of acidity in the grapes, ensuring that the best Bordeaux wines from 2010 were extremely well balanced.

55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alcohol. tasting notes

Dark crimson in the glass. Medium to full body with a fruity, juicy palate with a green undercurrent and a nice smooth texture as you drink it -blackcurrant, raspberries and strawberries with a hint of sweetness. Herby and spicy notes with a long and smooth finish.  For 33 euros at E-Leclerc, good value (I see BBR in the UK are selling this wine for £33). 

The 2010 was the first of the Château Pédesclaux turnaround wines and in the best vintage years the estate will be one to watch. I understand that 2015 looks a very promising Bordeaux vintage. Not the best in class by any means but for less than £25 this was good wine given the high prices from Pauillac.

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.