Monday, February 16, 2015

Bordeaux's Best Wine Buy--Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere by Philip S. Kampe



                                        Historic Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere


                    Severine Bonnie travels the world to market the Bonnie Family wines


Severine Bonnie, whose in-laws, Alfred-Alexandre and Michele Bonnie, purchased and renovated the historic 18th century Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere  in 1996. Today, the Bonnie family reaps the rewards of their purchase. With foresight and a large pocketbook in-hand, the Bonnie family took over the realms of the oldest wine producing terroir in Bordeaux.

By executing the plans of total renovation, gravity fed technology and sustainability, Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere is once, again, high on the charts of both wine critics and consumers. Add family members, son Jean-Jacques, daughter, Veronique and their spouses, Severine and Bruno to the mix and you have a well run, skilled operation, both on the marketing side, as well as the day to day operations of this 130 acre vineyard.

The wines, both red and white, have once again, regained their favored position worldwide. Sixty per cent of the two-hundred and thirty thousand bottles (200k red and 30k white) that are produced are exported to buyers from around the world, including the top markets, Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom Germany, Japan and the U.S.  One-hundred ten acres are planted for red Bordeaux. The grapes planted are Merlot (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Cabernet Franc (8%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Twenty acres are planted with white Bordeaux grapes, of which 80% are Sauvignon Blanc and 20% are Semillon. The vines average twenty-five years old.

The vineyards are situated on well drained gravel and clay soils with limestone, rich in shells and clay as the sub-strata. The vines are densely planted and follow organic and sustainable practices. Ploughing, using horses for difficult zones of the vineyard is the accepted practice. The vineyard was certified ‘Sustainable’ in 2008. The young Bonnie family members, with their new world ideas, are turning one of world’s best vineyards into an operation that is once, again, considered a leader in its category.

The Grand Cru Classe de Graves, Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere, according to material from the winery‘ is on a new course since late 1996, when Alfred-Alexandre and Michle Bonnie bought the estate. Beginning in 1997, this Belgium couple embarked on an extensive program of changes. Assisted from 2003 by their son Jean-Jacques and his wife Severine, and joined by their eldest daughter, Veronique and husband Bruno in 2008, their top priority was to install quality at all levels of the winery, the core lavished on the wines is worthy of the estate’s superb viticultural heritage. And the ultra efficient wine making facilities, installed in 1997, are still among the most sophisticated in Bordeaux. The cellars, function rooms, Chateau and park provide a superb setting that reflects the high quality of the wines. As a result, these efforts have regained the splendor that earned its wines their international reputation. The new adventure is now a family affair’.

My host, Severin Bonnie, at a recent lunch in Manhattan, explained her families mission, as I have pointed out, regarding the rebirth of Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere. The proof is in the pudding, said one of the other wine critics, in attendance. Why don’t we try the wines? And that,we did.

Without exception, all of the wines we sampled showed beautifully. That left no doubt in my mind that what the Bonnie family has done with Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere since 1996 is without doubt, amazing.  The wines that we sampled, 2010, 2012 & 2013 were rich in flavor, silky, elegant, full-bodied and generally in a category that few wines reach.

The Chateau is one of the sixteen chateaus of the Graves region with classified growths. It is one of the few with classified growths in both red and white wine. The chateau is located in Leognan. Most of the vines are planted in the Pessac-Leognan appellation. The vineyard is carbon footprint assessed, has  a heating and refrigeration system that reduces environmental impact and a water treatment station that collects and recycles waste water.
                          The schooner on the label of this red Bordeaux is hard to forget

Isn’t it time that you tried the wines from Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere? Dollar for dollar, to me, they are the best value from Bordeaux.

Philip S. Kampe

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