2010 Château de Malleret - It's Back!!

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:11 PM

2010 Château de Malleret - It's Back!!

In the wine biz, one gets good at saying goodbye; we all have our favorites, but once they sell out, it’s time to move on.  It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, we get a second (and sometimes third and fourth) chance to repurchase a favorite wine, and then we wait for it to make its way overseas here to our shop.  This weekend’s wine spotlight is on one of these wines.  Won’t you please welcome back to the shop, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc.


It went down something like this:  In the spring of 2014, while on assignment in Bordeaux for the En Primeur tastings, I made a handful of appointments with suppliers to taste some of their already bottled inventory.  It was at one of these meetings that 24 sample bottles were open and available for tasting.  I went through the line, swirling, sniffing, tasting, spitting, and jotting down notes.  All in all, it was a successful tasting because I liked 8 or 9 of the wines, but it was one of them that sent me over the moon.  Yes, it was the 2010 Malleret.  When I returned from Bordeaux, I sat down with David and we discussed the new vintage and the wines that I tasted.  When he asked me how much Malleret we should buy, it marked the very first time I answered, “Well, at least a pallet.”  I should point out another characteristic about being in the wine biz – it teaches you patience.  The wine finally arrived in early 2015 and was gone shortly thereafter.  We made a lot of friends with that wine, and said goodbye after it was gone.
Early this year, I was surprised to come across the 2010 Malleret while reading through a supplier’s price list and mentioned it to David.  Without hesitation, we secured the wine, and thanks to a recent container’s arrival, it’s here now.  I have secured my six bottles for the cellar, so come and get it!  I say that I want a few bottles in the cellar because when I came back from Bordeaux in 2014, I found a bottle of the 2000 Malleret for sale at a very fair price.  I hadn't had much experience with this chateau before, so I wanted to taste an older vintage to better understand their style.  It was outstanding!  Which leads me to deduce that perhaps this chateau doesn’t exactly knock it out of the park every vintage, but when they do, the wine can last.  So based on my experience with the 2000 Malleret, I feel the 2010 will still be drinking well in 2024.


2010 Chateau de MalleretI took a bottle home this past week, grilled up some steaks, and used the super fancy stemware.  The wine was sensational!  It has put on a little muscle, but there’s plenty of dark berry and cassis fruit there to keep it in balance.  The aromatics are complex:  the fruit is layered, there are earthy elements, and there’s a tobacco and forest floor herbaceous facet to them.  The palate entry is easy, it’s well balanced, medium-full bodied, with the purple-red fruit at its core.  The finish is long and layered, with the fruit and forest floor lingering.  I realize that everyone has their own taste, but this is my kind of wine … and the price is right!  Pure and simple.


Things are exciting around here.  Two containers are on the water, headed this way.  There’s going to be some Bordeaux on one of them – another over the moon discovery from this year’s trip, courtesy of one of our suppliers.  It’s a 2014 Saint-Estephe; stay tuned for its arrival!  The annual three week celebration known as Birthdayfest has begun, and will continue through mid-September.  I have a hunch there will be a few special bottles popped in my near future.  Maybe a bottle or two of something I put in my cellar before we said goodbye to it a long time ago?   - Peter Zavialoff

Time, Patience, And 2011 Chateau de Fonbel

Monday, March 20, 2017 12:14 PM

Time is flying. In a recent email back-and-forth with one of our suppliers in Bordeaux, she exclaimed, “It seems like we’re still dealing with the 2015 campaign; and now, it’s time for the 2016’s! Crazy!” That’s just how it is. Time flies. And because time is fleeting, some things must be done sooner than later, as there are finite windows of time. Wait too long and opportunities may pass. Alas, contrary to that, there are also closed windows which will open sometime in the future. That’s where patience is required. It’s funny, patience and Bordeaux just go together. One of the secrets of patient people is that we are very much aware how time flies, so every day of waiting brings us closer to whatever it is we are waiting for. Like a wine.

Five years ago, I tasted a barrel sample from the 2011 vintage. I liked it a lot. While not from a famous, high-pedigree chateau, the winemaking team is high-pedigree. I liked that too. We bought it. After it arrived, we tried it. While it continued to display the structure and balance which first attracted me, it had shut down and was not expressive. This is not uncommon with red Bordeaux wines. Patience would be required. That was over three years ago. We waited. Patiently. The window is now open on the 2011 Château de Fonbel.

I still remember it well, though visiting Château Ausone is always memorable. Yes, Château Ausone. The Vauthier family who own and make the wine for Ausone also own and make the wine from de Fonbel. The property was acquired by Alain Vauthier in the early 1970’s and it sits just down the hill from Ausone. Alain’s daughter, Pauline manages the property these days. So yes, it was the first appointment after lunch on the Wednesday of En Primeurs, and after tasting the de Fonbel, I was particularly impressed by its herbal/forest floor aromas, not to mention its bright red fruit meets cassis notes, leading me to jot down a particular nod to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up 20% of the blend. The palate was quite lively with bright acidity balanced by the red fruit, cassis, and sturdy tannins. Balance and expression are two important things to recognize when tasting barrel samples, and this wine displayed both in fine fashion. When the wine arrived, I was excited to taste it because I remembered that barrel sample well. Let’s just say that I was mildly disappointed that it had shut down. I knew all we needed to do was to wait a while and this wine would someday spring to life.

For anyone who purchased the 2011 de Fonbel, from that day forward I strongly recommended that if they were to be opening the wine shortly thereafter, to allow for a couple of hours of decanting. This obviously helped, but the wine still needed time. We opened a bottle just before our Anniversary Sale last fall, and immediately after I opened it, I poured out a glass. Still closed? It seemed so, but I revisited it just 15 minutes later and happily proclaimed it was beginning to fulfill its potential. I opened another bottle last night, and that is why I am writing today. A little air will still enhance the tasting experience, but straight after opening, the 2011 Château de Fonbel is open for business! The nose is complex with bright red cherry fruit with hints of cassis, blackberries and thicket; forest floor and fallen apple tree leaves, and there’s a tar-like note in there too along with the slightest note of cedar. The palate entry is soft and medium bodied, the acid kicking in mid-palate to project the various fruity, herbal, and earthy complexity on to the blank screen of the palate. The finish is carried by the fruit/acid interplay with fine, delicate tannins. It has blossomed into a classic, honest claret which can be drunk now or cellared for at least another decade. In fact, I would love to taste this wine in 2027!

It’s that time of year again. The annual En Primeur tastings will take place in Bordeaux from April 3rd through April 6, and I am proud to represent TWH to taste the 2016 wines from barrel. My schedule is shaping up with appointments and tastings for the majority of my 10 day visit, as I always choose to visit suppliers and taste back vintages in search of values for both our Cru Classé and our petits chateaux sections. I also usually allow room for the serendipitous, and I’ve managed to continue this practice. All in all, I’m excited to taste the new vintage, meet old friends, make new friends, find new back vintage wines, and take part in the city of Bordeaux’s recent renaissance. Who knows which windows will open for me this year? – Peter Zavialoff


Happy New Year!!! We hope you all had a healthy, happy holiday season. We sure did. Nothing over the top, but let’s just say that some very nice bottles were popped and shared. Of course the air is always rife with New Year’s resolutions this time of year, and why not? Clicking reset on the calendar gives many of us hope for better things.We beverage industry professionals need resolve as well, as there is much to do, and it’s so, so easy to get sidetracked. One of my favorite sayings is, “That’s the beauty of the world; we all have different tastes. If we didn’t, all the good stuff would have been gone long ago.” Resolutions are as individual as tastes.

This whole train of thought began with a minor inconvenience that occurred on New Year’s Eve. I love my corkscrew. Seriously. I know it well. It knows me well. I keep it in the same drawer as my spoons, forks, and knives at home. We also have one just like it here at TWH. With that corkscrew, I can take the capsule and cork out of even the trickiest bottle in record time. Throughout the year, I find myself in places tasked with opening bottles with foreign corkscrews. Sometimes the results are fine, sometimes not. So on NYE, a very good friend invited me to dinner with his family and shared a very special bottle of Burgundy. As I snapped the foil cutter out of his wine key, I grimaced with disappointment. I asked for and we eventually found another, and then it came to me. Moments like this, and there are plenty each year, wouldn’t happen if I just started to carry my trusted corkscrew around with me. It’s not much of a New Year’s resolution, but it’s what got the idea going this year. Wine-wise, here’s what I’d like to do in 2015:
#1 Expand My Horizons
There’s a whole lot of wine from all over the world with new vintages each year. Try some.
#2 Push The Boundaries
This year I will learn at least 12 new things about what I thought I already knew well.
#3 Monthly Splurge
Life’s too short to not enjoy something a little special at least once a month. “Splurge” means to spend more than usual, which again, means different things for different people. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. In reality, it’s a small sacrifice for pleasure.
#4 More Wine Events
Get out there! Arranging tastings or dinners with visiting winemakers or dignitaries can be challenging, but the results are well worth it. Look for the announcement of a dinner with a 2nd Growth Bordeaux Chateau very soon!
#5 Drink More Merlot
Yep. I re-watched Sideways this past year, and stand behind my statement that if that film were to take place 10 years later, Miles’ famous line would have began with, “If she orders Pinot …”
Merlot is the base of some of the finest and most famous wines in the world.
So there they are, my five wine resolutions for 2015.As the year progresses, I promise to reflect back upon this list and hopefully, it will keep me on track. Now about that Merlot …

We recently received a new container from Francewhich included in it a handful of well-priced Bordeaux I thought well enough of last April to ask David to import. Our staff has tried a few of them already, and you’ll be hearing more about these wines as we head further into the New Year.


I made more negociant appointments than usual in 2014 in order to taste past vintages, as I knew that there would be opportunities to find more diamonds in the rough from 2009 and 2010. Little did I know that one of these negoce’s had something up his sleeve when I visited. In addition to several wines from the vaunted 2009 and 2010 vintages, he opened a mini-vertical of Chateau Vieille Cure, Fronsac. We had a field day with the 2005 several years ago, so the detailed, old-school label was immediately familiar to me. The wine that stuck out at that tasting? The 2004 Vieille Cure. For sure. The other wines from this chateau were more recent, yet this 2004 had what it takes. Already 10 years old, it still held youthful charm and structure, yet it was beginning to reveal the secondary characteristics Bordeaux emits after some bottle age. I would have to say that though it seems to have the stuffing to last another decade, it is officially open for business! This wine will provide pleasure tonight or on a Saturday night 10 years from now. Here’s Robert Parker’s note written in 2007:
“As was the 2003, this is another big time sleeper of the vintage. The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2004 offers a sweet perfume of framboise, black cherry liqueur, cedar, and spice. Supple-textured, medium to full-bodied, expansive, and savory with superb purity and texture, it can be drunk now and over the next 10-12 years. This property has been on a qualitative roll and still remains one of Bordeaux’s finest values. 90 points.”
With Merlot like the 2004 La Vieille Cure, #5 will be a piece of cake to uphold, we’ll see about the others … As mentioned, there are several new bottlings from France and Italy hitting our sales floor as we begin 2015. We’ll be telling you all about them soon! In the meantime,here’s to a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2015! A Santé!

Peter Zavialoff

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