Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

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Julian Marshall
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Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#1 Post by Julian Marshall » August 11th, 2020, 5:18 am

No pics this time, for reasons I'll explain further on, so just my turgid prose!

Margaux is a long drive from Soulac, about 90 minutes to 2 hours is the traffic is bad, but I particularly wanted to visit two estates and show our girls the "other" side of Bordeaux. First on my list was Bel Air Marquis d'Aligre, but Monsieur Boyer never picked up the phone. I didn't fancy just turning up in case he greeted us with his shotgun, so that'll be for next year.

The second property on my list was Clos du Jaugueyron. It was not easy to arrange a visit, it took a couple of pleading emails to Stéphanie Destruhaut, but I'm glad she accepted. Stéphanie's partner, Michel Théron, was off hiking with their son in the Pyrenees, so it was particularly kind of her to bother.

We got off to a bad start. It turned out that Clos du J. is one of the few Bordeaux domains which is not signposted and which doesn't even have a sign at the gate! We drove past several times without realising our mistake, knocked on a few doors, were misdirected twice, and eventually found the right place thanks to Stéphanie, who was waiting in the middle of the road (and who I narrowly avoided running over). By that time we were 40 minutes late.

To be fair to us, there is nothing to even suggest that Clos du Jaugueyron is a winery. On arrival, we could see no vines, just what looked like a couple of old barns in the midst of a wood. We parked, glad to stretch our legs and the girls wondered what on earth we were doing there, stuck in a farm in the middle of nowhere. Beychevelle this was not!

Then the magic began.

Stéphanie started with the history of the domain. Neither Michel nor Stéphanie are from well-established Bordeaux families. Michel is from a modest winemaking family based in Minervois, who turned up by accident in the Médoc in 1988, to study oenology at Blanquefort, being unable to get into the Montpellier faculty. He met Stéphanie, who was about to start tourism and language studies at Bordeaux University. Both continued their studies and got their diplomas, after which Michel was keen to stay on in the region and try to start a winery. After looking around, taking the time to get to know people, they came across the owner of a small plot of vines in Cantenac (40 ares, just under one acre) who was prepared to give them a chance, so they began renting the land and produced their first wine in 1993. The vines were pre-phylloxera.

Little by little, they have increased their holding since, and now have 8 hectares, which they rent. Incidentally, they passed on their original plot to some friends, who set up Closerie du Moussis in 2009, so they no longer have the pre-phyloxera vines. The land is in three main plots - two in the Margaux appellation next to Château du Tertre and one in the Haut-Médoc appellation, next to Cantemerle.

From the outset, they were attracted to the idea of organic farming, but coming from a conventional winemaking background and having trained in the same way, it took some time for Michel to be convinced. They were won over by their contacts with winemakers from other parts of France, like Mathieu Cosse, Elian da Ros and Michel Chevré. It's probably the latter who has had the greatest influence on how their wine tastes, since he's from the Loire - his domain is Clos de L'Ecotard in Saumur-C, but more importantly perhaps, he was chef de culture at Les Roches Neuves for many years, which would explain the striking similarity.

They never used much chemicals, increasingly following organic principles, but only becoming officially organic in 2009 (I think). From 2000 onwards, they gradually adopted bio-dynamic methods too and have been fully bio-dynamic for several years.

It took a long time to get where they are now. Until 2010, Stéphanie was the main breadwinner, working as a guide and then in sales departments for various GCCs. Times can still be tough - in 2018, they lost 75% of the harvest to mildew. As a result of that, they clubbed together with other organic producers in Margaux and worked out better ways of fighting the disease in the vineyard, without using chemicals, so this year's outbreak was far less damaging.

Stéphanie then showed us the winemaking facilities and cellar, which were in what looked like big barns. We were immediately struck by the drop in temperature, produced not by air-conditioning, unlike everywhere else, but by efficient and natural insulation. The buildings were constructed using only organic materials.

There are no stainless steel vats, only concrete. The wine is aged 12 months in barrels, without soutirage and with only a minimum of sulphur. Their aim is to produce wines which are elegant, fresh and full of finesse. The barrels can be new or a few years old - it depends on the year, how the wine tastes, but also just on the size of the harvest. They only buy new ones when they have to and the barrels are chosen to avoid undue tastes of oak. There is no consultant, Michel and Stéphanie work according to their instinct and experience. Most of the work is done by them - they have one employee all the year round and a few more at harvest.

We then tasted two wines...in Stéphanie's kitchen, having first fought off a gang of marauding hens and an English setter.

Stéphanie had selected two from 2016, the Haut Médoc and the top Margaux, which she had decanted specially for us early that morning.

The Haut Médoc is 53% Cab S, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, with a fresh bouquet of stone and cassis, then a very pure, crisp mouthful of cassis and just a hint of Margaux dustiness on the finish, although it's only a HM. Very high quality which makes a mockery of the recent Cru Bourgeois classification (I don't think they applied).

The Margaux is I believe 70% CS, around 20% Merlot and the rest Cab Franc. It's more structured, more concentrated, less easy on the palate at this stage, but just as elegant and pure and will clearly be a very fine wine in the future. Going from one to the other just confirmed the hierarchy but also the similarity of the styles - unlike at Beychevelle or Lagrange, the HM is not out of place at all.

They are both fabulous wines, by far the best we tasted anywhere this year.

By this time, we had totally succumbed to the charm of our hostess and the way she had welcomed us into her house. After exchanging anecdotes about some of her friends and their wines, we realised it was time to go, not wanting to take up any more of her time - we had already been chatting for two hours, during which some of her family had turned up for lunch and were patiently waiting in the garden with the hens.

On our way to the car, Stéphanie remembered she had forgotten to show us the cellar - which was as well kept as the rest. I spotted a list of prices and realised they sold direct - she hadn't bothered to mention it! Anyway, she told us not to buy anything then because of the heat (I cannot remember any château telling us not to buy their wine!).

This allowed me to clear up the confusion over which wines they produce:

Clos du Jaugueyron - Margaux. Their top wine, produced every year and offered at around 50€.

Nout - Margaux. Produced every year from a separate plot, with 45% CS and 55% Merlot. Around 35€

Petit Jaug - Margaux. A "second" wine from the Jaugueyron plot, produced once so far, in 2015, due to the abundance of the harvest. 50% CS and 50% Merlot. 25€

Perrain - Margaux. Produced once so far, in 2014, as an experiment. 75% CS and 25% CF, the wine spent 3 years in concrete tanks with no oak at all. 31€

Haut Médoc - produced every year, the proportions of CS and Merlot varying according to the year.21€

We finally said goodbye - it was like saying farewell to a good friend and we headed off to find something to eat.

It was a wonderful visit, like a breath of fresh air. Some of the biodynamic explanations went in one ear and out the other, but the point is that their hearts are in the right place. The wines they produce are extensions of themselves - pure, natural and fresh. The prices are not cheap but fair for the quality, and I will certainly be making a large order when the heat drops, because I now understand what a difficult life they have chosen for themselves, albeit a clearly very happy one, so I want to help, but mainly just because the wines are really good, the type of wine I want to drink more of.

Luckily it was our last visit because it would have been impossible to visit a more conventional château after this.

I didn't take any photos because it would have felt indecent - I don't expect people to take photos of my home! I found a recent article in French which has a few pics:

https://viamo.fr/vignerons/clos-du-jaug ... el-theron/

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#2 Post by melvinyeo » August 11th, 2020, 8:22 am

Thanks Julian for the very vivid account. I tried the 2015 Haut-Medoc and really liked it, your notes make me really want to seek out the 16s. I wouldn't have placed it as a Bordeaux, would you say that the BAMA is similar in profile?

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#3 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » August 11th, 2020, 9:18 am

What a terrific report - thanks, Julian!

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#4 Post by R M Kriete » August 11th, 2020, 10:36 am

Love your write-ups!

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#5 Post by Julian Marshall » August 11th, 2020, 11:10 am

Thanks all!

Mel, there is definitely a sort of similarity with BAMA but Clos du Jaugueyron is more up to date, not in the sense of what some call "modern" i.e. very ripe and oaky, but in the sense that Les Roches Neuves is in Saumur-Champigny. I actually told Stéphanie that Monsieur Boyer was like a sort of Godfather to them!

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#6 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 11th, 2020, 11:20 am

Fantastic stuff, Julian. Following avidly
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#7 Post by pnitze » August 11th, 2020, 11:59 am

I visited Bordeaux in late spring 2011, and thanks to the immense generosity of Maison Sichel, I was able to spend 30 minutes or so at Margaux with Paul Pontallier, during what I’m sure was a typically busy day for him. We tried the 2007 Margaux, and quickly hit on a variety of topics. I mentioned to him that the natural wine/low intervention movement was gathering a lot of steam among US wine collectors, and had even penetrated Margaux. He was somewhat surprised and said, which estates in Margaux are you referring to? I said, well, the one I am thinking of in particular is Clos du Jaugeyron, which has a strong following in the US. He asked me to repeat the name, which I did. He said, I’ve never heard of this wine, you are sure it is a Margaux? I assured him it was, but the (polite) expression on his face suggested he didn’t think this estate existed. Perhaps due to the lack of signage!
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#8 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 11th, 2020, 12:29 pm

Julian Marshall wrote:
August 11th, 2020, 11:10 am
Thanks all!

Mel, there is definitely a sort of similarity with BAMA but Clos du Jaugueyron is more up to date, not in the sense of what some call "modern" i.e. very ripe and oaky, but in the sense that Les Roches Neuves is in Saumur-Champigny. I actually told Stéphanie that Monsieur Boyer was like a sort of Godfather to them!
That is a most perfect comparison. And I concur 100%.

Fantastic posts, Julian. You know I love BAMA and had a soft-spot for this estate a well. Will drop some thoughts tonight.
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#9 Post by melvinyeo » August 11th, 2020, 8:16 pm

Cheers Julian and Robert, I am sitting on a 10 BAMA and was thinking about pulling the trigger on an 05.

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#10 Post by Keith Levenberg » August 11th, 2020, 8:30 pm

Cool!

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#11 Post by P@u1_M3nk3s » August 11th, 2020, 8:44 pm

Excellent report Julian.
Cheers,
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#12 Post by Julian Marshall » August 12th, 2020, 7:57 am

Thanks to all for the kind words!
pnitze wrote:
August 11th, 2020, 11:59 am
I visited Bordeaux in late spring 2011, and thanks to the immense generosity of Maison Sichel, I was able to spend 30 minutes or so at Margaux with Paul Pontallier, during what I’m sure was a typically busy day for him. We tried the 2007 Margaux, and quickly hit on a variety of topics. I mentioned to him that the natural wine/low intervention movement was gathering a lot of steam among US wine collectors, and had even penetrated Margaux. He was somewhat surprised and said, which estates in Margaux are you referring to? I said, well, the one I am thinking of in particular is Clos du Jaugeyron, which has a strong following in the US. He asked me to repeat the name, which I did. He said, I’ve never heard of this wine, you are sure it is a Margaux? I assured him it was, but the (polite) expression on his face suggested he didn’t think this estate existed. Perhaps due to the lack of signage!
What a wonderful story! I'm not in the least bit surprised - when I said we were visiting Clos du Jaugueyron in Lagrange and Beychevelle, they smiled politely, clearly thinking that le rosbif was confused.

Mel - I've never tried the 05, but I'm told that it's already excellent.

A little detail I forgot to add:

Anyone unfamiliar with Clos du Jaugueyron would probably assume I heard about it from a French wine geek or an obscure natural wine blog. Well you'd be wrong, it was actually one Robert Parker! He included it in the 2003 edition of his Bordeaux book, describing it as a "quintessential garage wine", which led me to believe that it tasted like all other garage wines, so I avoided it like the plague - more fool me. He was really enthusiastic about the various vintages tasted and reading his notes now, I have to say he described the wine well. So it just goes to show that unlike what many believed, he did like this sort of wine too.

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#13 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 12th, 2020, 7:59 am

Fantastic report, thanks Julian! Margaux has become my favorite Left Bank appellation over the last decade.
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#14 Post by Jeff Leve » August 12th, 2020, 9:37 am

Nice visit and write up. I follow the wine on my site. It 2016 was the last vintage tasted.

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#15 Post by Arv R » August 12th, 2020, 10:16 am

I put away a couple bottles of their 2000 Haut Medoc, and had them around age 10 to 15, but I cannot find the notes. I suspect the spelling of their Jaugueyron confounded me, and my ability to find the notes. The wines were very solid, and I seem to remember hearing (at purchase on release) that the estate was unusually soulful.

Coincidentally I watched 'Wine Calling' a French documentary on natural winemakers in the Banyuls/Couillore region last night. It was ok, not as structured/formulaic as documentaries typically go. They did leave out the issue that - as lovely as unmanipulated wines might be then & there - by the time they have travelled 6000 miles to consumers they may have significant issues making them either unpleasant or even undrinkable.

Thank you for sharing these trip notes, they really will be a great resource for years to come for WB.
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#16 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 12th, 2020, 10:28 am

My note on the 2000 from back in 2017, showing beautifully then:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=137903&p=2215100&hi ... n#p2215100
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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#17 Post by Julian Marshall » August 13th, 2020, 1:14 am

Rudi - thanks - and I agree that Margaux is full of good wine at the moment. Stéphanie gave us a tip - one of their neighbours, Château des Graviers, is apparently producing great wines in the same style.

Arv - love the "soulful" description!

Robert - brilliant note and thread - your place in the pantheon of Olympic-level wine geeks is assured! Your note captures the essence of the wine perfectly.
Jeff Leve wrote:
August 12th, 2020, 9:37 am
Nice visit and write up. I follow the wine on my site. It 2016 was the last vintage tasted.
Jeff - thanks for those kind words - I looked on your site and enjoyed reading your notes. I'm curious - I couldn't find any reference to it on your site - have you ever tasted Bel Air Marquis d'Aligre?

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Re: Margaux - visiting Clos du Jaugueyron

#18 Post by Jeff Leve » August 13th, 2020, 9:04 am

Julian Marshall wrote:
August 13th, 2020, 1:14 am
Rudi - thanks - and I agree that Margaux is full of good wine at the moment. Stéphanie gave us a tip - one of their neighbours, Château des Graviers, is apparently producing great wines in the same style.

Arv - love the "soulful" description!

Robert - brilliant note and thread - your place in the pantheon of Olympic-level wine geeks is assured! Your note captures the essence of the wine perfectly.
Jeff Leve wrote:
August 12th, 2020, 9:37 am
Nice visit and write up. I follow the wine on my site. It 2016 was the last vintage tasted.
Jeff - thanks for those kind words - I looked on your site and enjoyed reading your notes. I'm curious - I couldn't find any reference to it on your site - have you ever tasted Bel Air Marquis d'Aligre?
I’ve tasted BAMA once or twice. It’s a very lean, austere, underripe old-school style of Bordeaux that’s not in my wheelhouse. Though it’s been a while since I’ve seen it.

That being said, I taste lots of wines every year that aren’t in my wheelhouse. But others like them and the wines sell so I taste them.

Generally speaking, for me to create a page on my site for a wine, I need to taste at least 3-4 vintages and they have to be a wine I can easily find to taste on an ongoing basis. BAMA doesn’t meet those requirements.

FWIW, I created 12 new pages this year so it does happen.

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