TN: 1995 Château Sociando-Mallet Cuvée Jean Gautreau

I’m home solo so figured I would pop something solid. Went out of town today for a public hearing on an airport deal, so was a long and stressful one. Sociando is like unwinding in that comfortable pair of jeans.

Except this is the vaunted Jean Gautreau Cuvee.

The first vintage, to be exact.

Always surprises me how Pauilliac in profile these early JGs are. The nose just classic dark cassis, pencil shavings and rich dank earth. Has an old school Bordeaux funk perfume about it as well. Still quite structured on the palate, fruit profile leaning out a bit since last I had it. Starting to range into some dried fruit characteristics. Runs the color spectrum, but it’s the tart, citrusy red briar patch fruit that resounds. Hints of red and dark raspberry purée as well. Lots of texture and grainy minerality to this wine. Finishes with chalky, sweet-tart tannins.

A wonderful drink, but will admit the bottle I had a few years ago was more exuberant, and better.

(93 pts.)



Even though your bottle wasn’t clicking like it should, I would really like to try this vintage of Cuvee JG given what a fan I am of the regular 95 S-M.

I like your thinking as well as your drinking, Robert. Thanks for the note.

I too am solo for the weekend, and popped a 1985 Gruaud Larose with a burger. Previous bottles have been pleasant but in modest decline. This one, however, was a rock star! Right in the sweet spot.

Two 95 JG’s remain in the cellar, looking for an appropriate match/pairing. I’m thinking about trying to shock someone blind vs. a First Growth or equivalent. If it is as good as the other JG’s I’ve had, then it just might.

Excellent notes - thanks - this is one I have never tried! It’s about time I opened another one of my stash…

Ah, GL from the 1980s!

Doesn’t really get much better than that. And so nostalgic!

I haven’t been a huge fan of the 95 bdx I’ve had. 95 comtes on the other hand…

My last bottle of this was simply, for lack of better words, harsh. Not giving me a lot of hope with it. Preferred a good version of the '96.
I’ve not had the JG, so will just have to see where my remaining 95 normale will take me.

Interesting, Ramon. The 95 Sociando normale has been great the 3-4 times I’ve had the over the last few years. It seems to be what many of us thought the 96 would become, as is has better depth. I’ve enjoyed some bottles of the 96 — but it is plagued with inconsistency like many S-Ms — but even the good bottles are on the lean and weedy side of things. Not so my bottles (so far) of the 95, but it did take a long time to come around.

I don’t think Sociando ever really shows that much complexity, nor of course elegance. It can be wild, energetic, sauvage, robust and invariably authentic (ie tasting like juice from grapes grown in a field, not chemicals synthesized in a lab), but I don’t really expect nuance at this address. That rustic quality combined with the firm, austere 95 structure probably did make this a rough ride for a long stretch.

Cool. Your description made me bite and will plan to include a bottle with my next pull from the storage.

Kermit Lynch used to quote this about Bordeaux. It nails the 1995s:

My idea of great Bordeaux is summed up by this quote from Alexandre Dumas, speaking in the voice of Cardinal Richelieu:

‘They are neither generous nor vigorous, but the bouquet is not bad, and they have an indescribably sinister, somber bite that is not at all disagreeable.’

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Just had the remaining 1/3 from the bottle I popped on Friday. Paired with grilled lamb chops. Color me surprised, the wine showed better than it did on Friday. Started showing a citrusy blood orange note that slayed with the lamb fat. A good night indeed.

Pedantry update: this was not Cardinal Richelieu but Marshal Richelieu, in the time of Louis XV. It’s from the Dictionary of Cuisine and not the Three Musketeers. The whole passage is even better: