Last weekend was Sociando-Mallet weekend. We tasted the wines separately, then together on the third night. All three were decanted, for about four hours before tasting.
An old favourite which never disappoints - in fact it’s remarkably consistent. As usual, blackberry and pencil shavings aromas with a little mint in the background. The attack is soft, gentle even, the dark currants not quite as youthful as before, but the middle section of wild raspberry has lost none of its verve. The finish is just as fresh as before, but perhaps dustier now, more Margalais in style.
Similar but different. The nose is fuller, more lively, with really mouth-watering notes of plum and raspberry, the attack is more chewy, plumper, the raspberries come in the attack this time, the blackberries in the middle section - and this time they are much creamier. The finish is a little shorter than the 01. It’s lush for a 2004 and incredibly youthful - two or three years ahead of maturity. In style, this one has more body than the 01 and is more like a Moulis.
Sociando-Mallet Cuvée Jean Gautreau 2003
The most intense in terms of aromas - the nose is full of very concentrated cassis, leather and cigar box, with maybe a hint of prune and black olive. The cassis is omnipresent in the mouth, powerful and well-focused, the middle section full of rising dark cherry - so far, so good. Then comes the finish - and pop! There goes the wine. The finish is peppery, dry, abrupt and rather astringent. It hits the top of the palate and refuses to budge. Going back for another sip merely confirms it - great start, very much a Pauillac in style, with a coolness now which calms the middle section, but with that awful finish again. Pity.
Sociando-Mallet has a reputation for having a green streak, which I noticed much more when they were tasted together, especially the 01, but what was more striking was the difference of the wines’ styles.
The JG 03 is like a classic Pauillac and reminded me of several other Pauillac 03s. It tasted the youngest of the three and the most in need of time. The finish was slightly better and perhaps a few more years will allow it to unwind further. At the moment, it is the only Cuvée JG which I have found disappointing.
The 04 is fun - plump and cheerful, probably the chirpiest SM that I have tasted. Quite similar to the 01 but much more youthful.
The 01 is excellent, suave and dusty, as good as it will ever be and dominated the others very easily.
One of the many advantages of Sociando-Mallet is that you can find the normal wine easily at auction, at a reasonable price - perhaps because the annual production is I think around 400K. The 01 can be bought here for 36€. The 04 is available for 30€ (only 5€ more than I paid for my original bottles at release). The Cuvée JG on the other hand is harder to track down - and I would not recommend the 03 anyway. So for drinking now, the 01 is the best bet - for the future, the 04 is a good choice (as is the similarly priced 08).