Benchmark Bordeaux? Chateau Sociando – Mallet, Mystere Wine Club tasting, Cardiff.

I know you have all being clamouring for a booze post (J positively begs me to put up more booze posts – generally by saying “Not f’ffing reading that“), with none so far this month. I have, therefore, bowed to the mob (with literally no one asking for such a post) and given you all what you subconciously want (I confidently expect views to soar like a brick thown off a building).

Chateau Sociando – Mallet is oft regarded as one of those wines that really punches above its weight. A classic rendition of claret without the wallet shredding price. Classy, without being brassy!

Personally I can’t understand how (on quality) it doesn’t feature in any of the Bordeaux growth classifications. It certain bested many of the more vaunted producers (and classed producers) at a tasting late last year of 2000 clarets.

Located in the Haut Medoc, north of St. Estephe, close to the left bank of the Gironde riverit consists of 57 hectares made up of a mix of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot.

As ever with the Mystere Wine Club in Cardiff,  the tasting was an impressive vertical tasting.

All the wines were from the club’s extensive cellar,

with 8 bottle starting off back in 1995 and going up to 2016.The well oiled Mystere Wine Club’s distribution system delivered the goodies to the door, with a bonus being that we had the benefit of the wisdom of François Huguenot from the Chateau.

Always good to get someone in from the actual wine maker and that is one of the benefits of online tasting that I hope we can extend to in person tastings with a hybrid solution – us in the room and the producer online.  I am sure the younguns on the committee will be able to sort that – certainly beyond my meagre IT skill (limited to shouting at it and if that fails hitting it and if that doesn’t work hitting it harder and shouting some more – oddly ineffective have to say).

Anyhow, back to the actually wines.

2016Pretty much a universally lauded vintage in Bordeaux, with Jancis Robinson describing the wine as being:

“…marked by high tannin and acidity, with superb aromatic fragrance.

With this being a “to hold” vintage, it was interesting to taste this wine at this stage of its development.

Rich perfumed nose, with graphite, dark fruit and chocolate. On the palate there were robust tannins, quite tart red fruit and a refreshing acidity, with spice as it lingered.

Still a total baby, I have bought some of this from Viader Vintners ( sadly now having shut up shop – happy retirement Gilbert) and will be cellaring it for 10 years +. Lovely now, but needs bottle time. I think this will be glorious when it grows up.

Price: Around £33-35 mark ( bargain).

2015Another highly regarded vintage, this had a lighter, less intense, nose. Touch of smoke and toasted wood, but not the intense perfumed fragrance of the 2016.

On the palate there was tart red fruit and spice, but it all felt a bit green on the finish. Nice, but I know which of the two out of this and the 2016 I will be buying.

Price: Around £38-£33 mark

2010Really nice minerally nose wafted up from the glass, with sandelwood, blueberries and a distinct earthiness.

On the palate, there were rich dark fruits and a distinct spicy finish, with a touch of mint on the mid palate.

Tannins were still quite grippy, but certainly starting to soften, with a refreshing acidity. Really nice, precise wine and exactly how I like a claret. Scored highly on the night from both me and the rest of the tasters.

Price: Around the £40 mark.

2002Another one with quite a minerally nose, follow by blackcurrant, pencil shavings, leather and a sort of loamy earthiness.

On the palate, it didn’t really live up to the promise of the nose. Not much fruit and what there was had a touch of sourness to it. As it lingered more teritary notes of meatiness came through, but this was not my favourite by a long shot.

Price: Around the £38 mark.

2001The nose here was quite muted, I thought. Touch of minerality, cedar and earthiness, as well as blackberry, but all sort of veiled as if I had a bit of a cold.

On the palate it was quite dry, with the tannins still quite grippy and a peppery finish. Just felt like it had not quite melded together over the years. Bit lacking was my final note on this wine.

Price: £85+

2000Back on form with the 2000, which was every bit as good as when it faired very well as against more vaunted (and expensive) opposition at a Mystere Wine Club tasting of 2000 clarets we had at the back end of 2020.

Lovely fresh nose of ripe blackcurrant, pencil shavings and perfumed notes wafted up as the glass was agitated.

On the palate its freshness belied is age, with the cab sauv in the blend really standing out.

The fruit was still there, with silky tannins and the mouth paved with blackcurrant. In a word – luscious, but at a price.

Price: Around the £120 mark.

1996Lovely nose dominated by teritary aromas in the form of tobacco leaf, cedar, pencil shaving, coffee, mocha and a distinct perfumed character.

On the palate, the fruit was still there will cassis to the fore, followed by liquorice notes. Great length to this wine, which lingered on the palate for a age. Absolutely glorious stuff and more in my price bracket.

Price: Around the £70 – £75 mark.

1995First wine that was really showing its age, I thought. More muted on the nose than the 1996. There was red fruit and a touch of cedar, but it was nothing like as expressive on the nose as the 1996.

On the palate it was all a bit austere. Touch of liqourice and spice (ginger maybe), but seemed to me to be on the slide.

Price: Around the £68-£70 mark.

The verdict

As ever a great tasting, with the added benefit of the charming Francois from the Chateau to impart his knowledge of the wines into proceeding. Big thank you to François for his time and insight – really made the tasting.

Chateau Sociando – Mallet produce great quality and (comparitively speaking) good value claret. They rarely fail to please and I immediately after the tasting snapped up some 2016s from Viader Vintner.

Food wise, the 1996 and 2000 were fabulous with a Hills Brecon burger (the night after the tasting).A properly dry aged rare steak or a game bird (grouse or woodcock) would also work a treat in my book.

My top three (echoing the wider top three on a vote of all participating club member) were a follows :

  • 2010;
  • 2000;
  • 1996.

1996 clear winner of wine of the night for me.

Best value on night was a toss up between the 2010 and 2016. As I scored the 2010 higher that takes the value crown for me

Next up, for our April tasting, is a look at the wines of Domaine Tempier – a real powerhouse of the Bandol appellation.
Looking forward to that.

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