We have been visiting the many and varied vineyards of Bordeaux since 1985. This may be France’s best known wine region but it proved the hardest for us to find that elusive combination of quality wine, good value and warm welcome that are the cornerstones of 3D Wines. However, we finally found it at Château Monconseil-Gazin.
The left bank of the Gironde estuary is dominated by the famous châteaux of the Médoc but it is on the right bank that you will find communes where wine has been produced since Roman times – long before vines were planted in the Médoc. One such commune is Plassac, not far from the 17th century citadel of Blaye, and it is here on the gentle slopes above the village that we find Château Monconseil-Gazin, where, legend has it, Charlemagne once held council. The château was built about 1500 and since 1894 five generations of the Baudet family have produced quality wine here.
Jean-Michel Baudet is one of an elite group of 23 winemakers who worked hard for many years to realise their dream of creating a new appellation – Blaye – that, from the 2000 vintage onwards, officially became the ‘Grand Cru’ of the area. Our first vintage, the 1999, was the wine that finally led to the granting of the appellation charter.
Jean-Michel and Françoise run their 24-hectare domaine using the system of lutte raisonnée – ie with complete respect for their environment and terroir. The warmth of their welcome will make a deep impression, but so too will the quality of their wines. Jean-Michel fashions heady reds that are rich, supple and mouth filling, based on the classic duo of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a touch of the local speciality – the highly fashionable Malbec. However, our exclusive Blaye is a rich, concentrated claret made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot grapes produced from the domaine’s oldest vines. The high percentage of Merlot lends soft brambly fruit to the more structured blackcurrant-flavoured Cabernet.
During the summer months some leaves are removed from the vines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and yields are restricted by the removal of excess bunches of grapes to improve flavour and concentration in the remainder. The grapes are harvested by hand and sorted meticulously prior to temperature-controlled vinification. The wine is then aged for a minimum of 18 months in oak barrels – half new, half one year old. The use of new oak barrels adds depth, complexity and ageing potential.
This wine is soft enough to be delicious when young, although it will mature gracefully for many years if carefully cellared. It is ideal with red meats such as roast lamb and beef, game, rich casseroles and, after a few years’ ageing, hard strong cheeses.
The wines of Château Monconseil-Gazin regularly win medals at the International Wine Challenge in London, the world’s most prestigious blind wine tasting, and at the Decanter World Wine Awards – testimony indeed to Jean-Michel’s skill as a winemaker.