Château Micalet 2015
Winegrowers: Anne-Marie and Denis Fédieu
Region: Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux
Grape: Merlot 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Petit Verdot 7%
Available: June 2018
“It is obvious that someone passionate is behind the winemaking. Lovely, full bodied, sensuous.”
Clive Coates, MW, Wines of Bordeaux
The Changing Face of Bordeaux: Bordeaux has lagged behind other French winegrowing regions in regard to emphasizing terroir and sustainable viticulture. For over a generation too much emphasis has been placed on modern winemaking techniques, superstar ‘travelling’ consultants and 100-point ratings. Like Champagne, Bordeaux became better known for slickly marketed ultra-luxury brands than home to some of the world’s greatest terroirs. And again, like Champagne, Bordeaux has had a serious problem with the excessive use of pesticides and herbicides. But a long overdue change is occurring as organic and biodynamic farming grows and the use of technological manipulation in the cellar is minimized allowing the great terroirs of the region to more clearly shine through.
Today’s offer is the first of several that Cellar Direct will send you this year from small, terroir-driven estates that practice organic or biodynamic farming. While they will have much in common each will come from distinct terroirs, use varied winemaking techniques and taste different from one another. They will all be delicious now but can develop and improve for 10 to 15 years or more, and they will be well priced and represent excellent value.
For lovers of left bank Bordeaux looking for tradition and quality at a drinkable price we offer Chateau Micalet 2015. This outstanding wine is a delightful blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It displays a potpourri of aromas of dark cherry, cassis, menthol, cedar, tobacco, leather and savoury spices. On the palate there is a beautiful balance between fruit, oak, fine tannins and bright acidity. This wine is all framed by a weighty backbone of minerality from the organically farmed, gravelly vineyards from which it was born. Complex and elegant, with a long, satisfying finish, this wine comes from the excellent – stellar in the Medoc -- 2015 Vintage (RP 95 pts). This is a cellar-worthy wine with the structure and intensity that will allow it to develop and age well for ten to fifteen years. Total production is around 3,000 cases but only about 400 are exported - mostly to the United States, Germany, England and Japan. This wine is not offered elsewhere in Canada and our allotment is small. This wine sells for close to $34 in the United States; at $31 there’s much more to appreciate here than just its great price. You do not want to pass this up.
Until the 17th century the Haut-Medoc was a region of salt marshes used for animal grazing. Ambitious Dutch merchants drained the marshlands and converted them to vineyards for wine production to sell into the British market that was then dominated by wines from Graves and Portugal. It was not long before the great regions of Margaux, Pauillac, St.-Estèphe and St.-Julien were carved out and by the 19th century the wine region of the Haut-Medoc was one of the most prosperous in France.
Jean Péraud, a pastry baker and occasional winegrower in the latter half of the 19th century, established chateau Micalet. The chateau was first mentioned as a Cru Artisan in the 1893 edition of Édouard Féret’s classic tome “Bordeaux et ses Vins” (Bordeaux and its Wines) and the excellence of the Chateau’s wines was recognized in 1900 when it received the Medal of Honour from the City of Paris for its 1887 and 1889 vintages. Denis Fédieu bought the property from the estate of Jean Péraud’s daughter Madeleine upon her death in 1972. At the time the wine produced was sold to négociants. Since then Denis and his wife AnneMarie have painstakingly restored the vineyards, cellars and Chateau to its previous glory. Their focus has been on their vineyards; they’ve never used herbicides and in the early 2000s eliminated to use all synthetic chemicals. In 2004 they started the process to become formally certified organic which they were in 2006. The estate now has 7 hectares of vineyards and is managed by their sons Damien and Dominique.
“Cru Artisan AOC” – a Forgotten Cru Revived: Cru Artisans are small (usually less than 5 hectares,) family estates that manage all aspects of farming their vineyards, cellar-work and the marketing of their wines. Cru families were originally known in the 19th century as an unofficial ranking in Bordeaux. Brokers and négociants chose to distinguish the wines in relation to the social status of the property owner. This way, the peasants produced a peasant cru, the artisans, an artisan cru, the bourgeois, a bourgeois cru and finally the aristocracy and the wealthy families, a classified cru. Therefore, social hierarchy and the hierarchy of prices became merged. Although not part of the 1855 classification, it is mentioned in the 6th edition of the Féret wine guide of 1868, but until 1994 the listing was largely forgotten. In 1989 a small group of producers lobbied to revive the AOC. In 1994 “Cru Artisan” was recognized by the European Union and the French Government followed suit by issuing the new classification in 2002. A jury of recognized wine professionals establishes the ranking. It includes a subjective appraisal of the quality of the wine and is subject to ministerial approval. Which winegrowers are included in the ranking is re-assessed every 10 years. Attaining Cru Artisan status is an explicit recognition of a winegrower’s exceptional wines and their passion and dedication to their vineyards. Only 50 winegrowers are included in the Cru Artisan AOC.
Today’s offer, Château Micalet 2015, is a wine of outstanding quality. Hand harvested from vineyards with 30 to 80 year old vines with low yields, this wine was fermented with ambient yeasts in stainless steel vats. Maceration lasted 21 days with once a day punch-downs. It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged on its lees for 6 months in stainless steel tanks, and was aged an additional 12 months in 30% new oak barrels. During this time it was racked from barrel to barrel several times. It was fined with egg whites then bottled with only a small amount of sulphur added. Serve at 17˚ in Bordeaux stems with roasted or grilled beef, lamb and game, goose, pheasant or duck, or braised pork. Enjoy!