Thursday, 31 May 2012

Château Toutigiac

Yet again for me, I’ve discovered a new little micro climate of Bordeaux. I was visiting Château Toutigiac just south of the village Targon in the Entre-deux-mers.  Toutigeac is actually a tiny hamlet founded by the monks of Saint Gerard who came from the nearby Abbey in La Sauve, once housing more than 200 monks.

It was St.Gerard who founded the Abbey of La Sauve in 1039. The story says he was travelling the old pilgrimage route in a search for a migraine cure and met the Duke of Aquitaine. The duke gave him some land where he settled, starting the small community by planting vines … good way to cure a migraine! A stone cross of Christ from this era still stands today in front of the Château!

One hundred years later, the Commanderie Montarouch in Targon was founded by the Knights Templar. There are, however no more monks or knights here … just the Mazeau family who are now the entire population and own, live and work there. The area is very picturesque with the Hamlet and 17th century Château sitting high above the rolling hills of vines and forests below. 

The soils are clay limestone and planted on south-facing slopes giving lovely ripe and very perfumed red wines.  I met up with the current owner, Monsiuer Mazeau and his winemaker daughter Oriane Mazeau who were keen to share the history of their family … and what a history it is!

Orianne’s great, great grandfather was Charles Mallet, once the owner of the reputed Château Lascombes in Marguax. He was a very successful negociant after the first world war and the biggest supplier of wine to the French capital. Incredibly I learnt his negociant cellar or chai was in Castillon La Bataille!

Tony had told me there used to be two chais in Castillon; the one by the quay (hence our Le Chai au Quai) and one up in the village. I now know that was Monsieur Charles Mallet’s and I was now wine tasting with his great, great granddaughter. It’s a small world.

We knew nothing of the history or the Castillon connection when we tasted the wine blind at Le Chai and selected the wine purely on quality.  It’s a lovely example of the 2009 Bordeaux vintage and –even more exciting – it’s yet another individual micro-terroir of the Bordeaux region. Try some for yourself.
M. Mallet purchased Château Toutigiac in 1928 and Oriane has continued the family tradition since obtaining her qualifications in both viticulture and oenology and gaining wine making experience working in Rioja.

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