On the Trail

The Majestic Malescot

David Driscoll

I first met Jean Luc Zuger at one of our UGC Bordeaux events in San Francisco; he was wearing a rather serious expression and carried himself quite solemnly. For someone who makes such a beautiful and lively wine, he seemed rather melancholy by nature. When I caught up with him again last month in Bordeaux, after the annual K&L golf tournament in which he was paired with our own Ralph Sands, he was exactly the same—mild-mannered, quiet, and rather humble. "That's just his demeanor. He's rather majestic," Ralph said to me as we powered through a glass of rosé at the course clubhouse. Later on I mentioned to Jean Luc that his 2015 Malescot St. Exupery was one of my favorites from Margaux this year, a region that many believe to be the best in Bordeaux from the vintage. He nodded and thanked me for the praise. I assume he hears such accolades quite often these days. Not since the year 2000, six years after Jean Luc took over as director, have the wines of Malescot tasted this good. Not since his family first bought the property in 1955 have the wines been this approachable in their youth. 

It was a gorgeous day in Margaux when we tasted the 2015 en primeur offering of Château Malescot. The clouds were hanging low in the sky and the sun was shining intermittently through the cracks in between them. We had just been to Palmer, located just south of the property, and were talking about how pretty the wines of Margaux had been thus far. We pulled up to the estate, parking our notorious blue bus next to the vineyards, and looked out over the vines—twenty-eight hectares of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot. The 2015 vintage is a blend of 50%, 30%, 10%, and 5% in that order and, after having tasted Chateaux Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild, and d'Issan earlier that day, I don't think any of us were ready for the Malescot to taste as good as it did. The tricky thing about tasting Bordeaux en primeur is that you're being forced to taste the wines before you know what they'll cost. It's quite easy to say: "this wine tastes good," but it's difficult to make an analysis until you know the price. "This could be one of the best deals from Margaux if they price it reasonably," Clyde said to the group. Reasonable was all we could hope for at the time.

Then earlier today we got the news: the 2015 Malescot would release at $49.99—a full eighty dollars less per bottle than we sold the 2009 vintage for, and the same price as the 2012 originally released at (despite the fact that 2015 is a far superior vintage). "Bordeaux just got its dignity back!" Brian shouted from his office after hearing the news. There's a certain amount of dignity in selling a wine this good for a price this hot. But for Jean Luc Zuger it seems dignity and majesty go hand in hand.

-David Driscoll