A symbolic year for Château Malescasse, marking 10 years since Philippe Austruy took over this reputable Haut Médoc domain
His nephew, managing director, Alban Cacaret, looks back at a decade dedicated to giving Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel the praise it deserves.
“My uncle stumbled upon Château Malescasse by a stroke of luck”, Alban recalls. “Even though he always dreamed of purchasing a vineyard in Bordeaux, he had given up on the idea, either because of its astronomical price tag or because the properties were too far gone for him to dip his toe in. His acquisition of La Commanderie de Peyrassol in Provence in 2001 is emblematic of his approach: identify a place with potential on a superb terroir, with an authentic setting that has seen better days, and invest to make it a place beyond your wildest dreams, producing exceptional wine. And that’s precisely what happened with the domaine médocain.
In 2012, Philippe Austruy met Bordeaux-based consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, who helped him figure out how to get the most out of the terroir. The vineyard, located on the gritty mound of the Médoc region, near the estuary, had not been receiving the attention it deserved, and there was still much to do. “It was the beginning of a new adventure for Château Malescasse”, Alban says. An ambitious restructure of the vineyard was launched after a deep analysis of the soils and parcelles. Between 2012 and 2018, 50% of the vineyard’s total surface area was ripped out. “The merlot had sometimes been planted on ground which was better suited to cabernet, and vice versa – to begin with, we had to invert them to obtain better quality grapes”, Alban says. Removing them has also allowed us to replant at higher densities, which was necessary for quality purposes. Taking such drastic action did however mean renouncing higher levels of production for a few years. “We knew what it meant, but didn’t want to delay the day when we would start being really satisfied with our wine.”
Changes were also being made in parallel in the cave, where the tanks were replaced with smaller ones, which could be filled with gravity, unlocking more precise wine making, parcelle by parcelle. “It’s taken 10 millésimes for us to really find ourselves and with the last three – 2018, 2019 and 2020, I think we’ve finally reached the style and quality which we aspire to”, Alban declares.
The past 10 years of relentless work to put Château Malescasse on the Médoc map paid off last year when it received a “mention Exceptionnel” in the Crus Bourgeois ranking. “These past 10 years are just a first step. Over the past years we have adopted an environmentally friendly approach, by planting cereals and vegetables between the vines. We also rely on mating disruption techniques to avoid having to use pesticides and have planted hedges and trees to preserve the natural environment and its biodiversity. “A responsible production for demanding and high quality wines is the challenge we have set ourselves for the future”, Alban concludes.
Hall 4 / Stand FG-58
Photo: © Christophe Goussard