2005 Chateau Haut-Maurac Medoc

Chateau Haut-Maurac Medoc We knew all about Olivier Decelle, the guy who had awakened his neighbors in St. Emilion by purchasing the dilapidated Chateau Jean Faure and quickly turning it into one of the prizes of the Right Bank. Why? Because the likes of Michel Rolland and Stephen Derenoncourt had said that Decelle's Haut-Maurac bore an eerie resemblance to Sociando Mallet. When we got to Haut-Maurac, we quickly understood why.

It's long been said that the best property in the Haut Medoc borders the Gironde. You want soil that's light, full of sandy gravel. The poster child of the Haut Medoc is Jean Gautreau's Sociando Mallet. The original parcel slopes gently towards the river. We first tasted Sociando in the 1978 vintage, but it was the 1982 that captured our attention, as well as that of most of the Bordeaux buying world. Now, Olivier Decelle seems to have taken a page out of Gautreau's book, having poured a small fortune into the vineyards at Haut-Maurac. When we saw the immaculately tended Cabernet Sauvignon sloping gently towards the bottom of the hillside where the Gironde was in full, blustery view, we wondered out loud, "Is Haut-Maurac the next Sociando Mallet?"

Olivier Decelle
Olivier Decelle
It's a bit early to make the call, but with Decelle's vision, and the advice of Bordeaux's top consultants -- Rolland and Derenoncourt -- it's well on its way. We conducted a vertical tasting of Haut-Maurac beginning in 2002 (a tough vintage). The 2002 was superbly made, perfectly integrated. The 2003 was surprisingly fresh, given the inferno of the growing season. The 2004? Classically structured, rich, beautifully constructed, long on the palate. But, if the 1982 vintage really put Sociando on the map, it will be the magnificent 2005 Haut-Maurac that, a decade from now, people will point to as Haut-Maurac's coming out party.

The 2005 Chateau Haut-Maurac is packed. Rich and concentrated, with big Medoc shoulders and superb length, this is one of the secret beauties of what is arguably the greatest vintage in Bordeaux since 1982. Like all the great 2005s, the wine was sweet and lush out of barrel, then went into hiding. We've been studying this wine for a year and now that it's beginning to open up again, it's time to let you in on the secret.

Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"Deep purple color. Tightly bound, intense aromas of cassis and pure dark fruit. Deeply concentrated on the palate with great definition and broad shoulders. The sweet lush fruit we found in barrel now starting to emerge again, balanced by big Medoc shoulders and muscle. Drink now if you have to, but the patient will be rewarded. Age for a decade or two."