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Friday, 18 November 2016

Sociando-Mallet Vertical Tasting

Vertical tasting of Sociando-Mallet at 67 Pall Mall with Richard Bampfield MW

Ni classé, ni bourgeois .. Sociando-Mallet tout simplement.
- Sociando-Mallet twitter biog

Neither a classed growth nor even a Cru Bourgeois, Sociando-Mallet is something of an anomaly. Based in the Haut-Medoc just north of St Estephe, it did not exist at the time of the 1855 classification and has opted not to enter the Cru Bourgeois system.
But, as Richard Bampfield notes, the terroir of Sociando-Mallet looks like Cru Classe, but the pricing is definitely in Cru Bourgeois territory - so a bargain for the consumer, then.

Before and during a dinner at 67 Pall Mall, we tasted  a vertical of both the grand vin and La Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet going back to 1998.

Two things struck me about all the wines; quality and consistency. Not only are they excellent in the good years, they are also very well made in the less-good times.

This is no mean feat; in the cooler, damper years of 2011 - 2013, I tasted many over-extracted, unbalanced Grands Crus that had been marred by too heavy a hand in the cellar. By contrast, the wines of Sociando-Mallet achieve a balance and elegance in every year, regardless of the conditions of the vintage.

As Pascale Thiel and Sybile Marquet explained; the harvest date is the key determinant of the character of the wines which are intended to reflect the vintage.
It will be no surprise to learn, then, that the wines I thought best were from the best years - 2010 and 2005, according to Jancis Robinson's "rule of 5".

Demoiselle 2014 bramble, cherry, coffee and spices; balanced, fresh and harmonious with very fine tannins. Very Good.

Demoiselle 2013 leaner and thinner, but still very elegant. Good.

2012 denser, longer and darker-fruited with a more muscular core. Very Good. 

2011 more opened-up and drinking nicely now; a good light claret. Good.

2010 earthy truffleyness, kirsch and black fruit; assured, muscular and dense, but still closed-up. Very long and adept with fine, supple tannins. Will repay aging; leave for 5+ years. Very Good Indeed.

2009 from a warmer year, more alcoholic, fruited and hedonistic; drinking nicely now but without the aging potential of 2010. Very Good.
2008 lots of primary bramble fruit; supple, fresh and elegant. Very Good.

2006 soft, supple and harmonious; lovely mature Bordeaux. Very Good.

2005 truffles, bramble fruit and freshness; classic aged Medoc showing beautifully now, but with further to go; harmonious and supple with lovely, fine tannins. Very Good Indeed.

2001 tarry, fresh, complex and aged, the red-plum fruit slightly drying out. Very Good.

Cuvée Jean Gautreau 1998 a selection of the best barrels of the year evolved and complex with truffles, tarriness, some rosehip and dried bell pepper - classic aged Medoc character. Very Good Indeed.

Other related articles
David Way's assessment
Douglas Blyde's highlights

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