2012 Chateau Maurac Haut Medoc
Value and Bordeaux are two words that haven’t typically been linked together since the 1855 classification of the Grand Cru Classe wines at the Paris Exception that same year.
But one way to look at that classification (albeit a simple one) is that the guys who started out that fateful day to classify all of Bordeaux were just a little bit slouchy – they praised more chateaux that were close to Bordeaux. Those vineyards farther away were not only ranked less, but simply evaluated less as well. If you were in Margaux, good for you – you’re closest to Bordeaux and within crawling distance home. If you’re in Saint Estephe, a good couple of days’ hike (at that time) from the merchant houses of Bordeaux, well, not only did you not get counted, but the few that were counted got ranked lower.
To me, it’s a win because this gives us fertile hunting ground for bargains in Bordeaux, and I think I’ve got a dandy – Chateau Maurac.
Maurac is in the north of the Left Bank, up around Saint Estephe but farther north still, giving it the AOC designation of Haut-Medoc. For those of you concerned about this northern appellation, keep in mind Maurac’s neighbors are Sociando Mallet and Charmail, two top contenders.
I realize that Maurac isn’t a household name, but that’s because over the generations its been divided and reassembled many times. It is now in the hands of Claude Gaudin, winemaker for many of the famous chateaux in the region. Under his tutelage, Chateau Maurac is producing fantastic wine:
First stop, one thing you have to love on this wine is the vintage, 2012. Although ’09, ’10 and ’15 got “vintage of the century” in Bordeaux, ’12 was a classic balance – delivering fresh fruits, the structure for long-term aging, and good acidity to keep the wines fresh for the long haul. Exactly what a cellar needs from age-worthy Bordeaux. Not blockbusters, but great drinking wines that will reveal pleasure now, and in 10, 20 or many years beyond. Maurac is right there.
The wine opens with fruit elements – black fruits spiced with cinnamon, anise and clove, mixed with Bordeaux pencil lead and gravel character. But the fruit is perfectly balanced around those primary elements. The palate is exactly where I like Bordeaux to be. The tannins are still fresh, but are now also totally integrated with the back of the palate, showcasing the wine’s length and drinkability. It will work as a cocktail but fit in perfectly with heartier fare such as pain grille topped with caramelized onions, rashers of beef tenderloin and a hunk of Roquefort cheese.
How often do you get a discounted Bordeaux in the prime of its drinking window? Almost never, since at least 1855. But here is a gorgeous beauty. We don’t have much, so snap it up!