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2012 Sociando Mallet

2012 Sociando Mallet

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From the critics:

90 RP

90 DEC

90 JS

Critic Reviews

Once again proprietor Jean Gautreau has hit pay dirt with a beautiful blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Wonderfully sweet, ripe tannins seem to be a rule of thumb from this great terroir just to the north of St.-Estèphe’s Château Montrose. A beautiful deep ruby/purple color, decent acidity, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and stunning fruit put this wine right in the midst of the best classified crus from the Médoc, yet it has never been classified. Go figure. Softer than I would have suspected (and I’ve been following and buying this wine since the mid-1970s), this wine will still age beautifully for 10-15+ years.

Robert Parker | 90 RP
Dense colour, striklingly pure Cabernet cassis nose, richness of fruit and firmness of ripe tannins, a wine of real class and as usual one of the very best Haut-Médoc. Drinking Window 2017 - 2025.

Decanter | 90 DEC
Intense aromas of red and black cherries with light floral notes. Full body, silky tannins, lovely acidity and long, fruity finish. Polished tannins. Needs to open. Better in 2018.

James Suckling | 90 JS

Wine Details for 2012 Sociando Mallet

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.


Region Bordeaux : Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Left Bank
Appellation Haut Medoc

Overview

Producer Chateau Sociando Mallet : There is an old adage that all the best vineyards in Bordeaux have a prime view of the Gironde. If this is true, Chateau Sociando-Mallet with its unobstructed view of the water from both directions has a privileged terroir. It was here, in the village of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne in the winegrowing appellation of Haut-Medoc where Jean Gautreau discovered Sociando-Mallet.

The 83-hectare Left Bank estate’s history can be traced back to 1633 when it was founded by a nobleman known as “Sossiondo” from the Basque region; phonetically renamed “Sociando.” During the French Revolution, the estate was seized and sold and for a time known as Sociando-Lamothe. In the 1850’s, it was sold to a navy captain (Mallet) who, following the customary naming at the time, renamed the estate Chateau Sociando-Mallet. This would mark the birth of the estate but it would lay in wait until 1969 for its true discovery…for its true potential to be unveiled.

When Jean Gautreau first saw the property of Sociando-Mallet, the estate was in poor condition; the chateau itself uninhabitable, cellars dilapidated and a mere 5 hectares under vine. Nevertheless, it was love at first sight. His selective vision of the dire situation at Sociando-Mallet turned into a love affair which propelled the estate towards greatness. His expansion and replanting of vines was his first order of business as he remodeled and renovated the winemaking facilities. He added temperature controlled stainless vats and repaired older concrete ones to modernize the facility and adding a tasting room with natural lighting, accentuating the natural view of the Gironde.

Gautreau was highly attuned to the fact that the property lay in prime real estate, being so far north in the Left Bank and enjoying the terroir found in both Pauillac and Saint Estephe. The vineyards enjoy a cooler climate, allowing them to excel in overly hot, dry years. The terroir consists of “Gunz” gravel with a subsoil of clay, sand and limestone and is remarkable for growing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and producing wines with wonderful freshness. The 83-hectares under vine are planted to 54% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. The vines are an average 35 years of age and are grown on the superb Baleyron gravelly hillock around the house and winery buildings. Sun exposure is optimum and breezes off the estuary keep the vines well aired and healthy. The huge mass of water in the estuary and nearby ocean accounts for a temperate micro-climate without wild swings in temperature.

The flagship, Sociando-Mallet has an annual production of close to 35,000 cases. The estate also makes a second wine from the property’s youngest vines, named La Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet. Interestingly, a third wine is produced but only in the greatest vintages, aged in the most remarkable barrels and is extremely limited. The “Jean Gautreau” label was first seen in 1995 and was supposed to be a onetime endeavor for private consumption; however, it has been put into production in only the best vintages and sometimes finds its way onto the secondary market. However quickly it lands on the market, it also finds its way off just as quickly.

Sadly, in 2019 at the age of 92 and after 50 years of managing Sociando-Mallet, Jean Gautreau passed away. His Daughter, Sylvie, who lives and breathes Sociando-Mallet and her son, Arthur are now operating the estate. They tend to it with love and care, continuing in the legacy of a man who discovered a truly beautiful property and from it produced truly beautiful wine.


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