Château Malescasse restored to former glory… and beauty
Philippe Austruy, a major player in the health sector, has taken Bordeaux’s Château Malescasse to new levels of vigour. Despite his health industry background, Austruy is also passionate about wine – a field in which he is hardly a novice, as for the past 15 years, he has been the owner of the Commanderie de Peyrassol, one of the jewels of Provence, which he also brilliantly restored to its former glory.
On the lookout for a Bordeaux vineyard, he acquired the Château Malescasse in 2012. In the space of 3 years, the wine storehouse was entirely renovated, the vineyard comprehensively restructured and the stunning manor house was renovated and even regained its original tiled roof. Today, Château Malescasse is one of the domaines that sets the standard for Haut-Médoc.
Located in Lamarque, between Margaux and Saint-Julien, the Château Malescasse was built in 1824 in the purest neo-classical style of the age. The Renouil family were responsible for dictating its graceful lines. From then on it appeared regularly in the wine brokers’ records. In 1970 a major figure in the Médoc acquired the property: Guy Tesseron, originally from Cognac, was already in charge of two fine crus, Lafon-Rochet in Saint-Estèphe and Pontet-Canet in Pauillac. Working with his son Alfred, he made a commitment to restoring the buildings and, above all, replanting the vines. By 1992 Château Malescasse was restored to its original size of 40 hectares of vines. It was then purchased by Alcatel-Alsthom, but in 2012, intent on getting back to its core activity, the telecommunications group sold it to Philippe Austruy.
A TEAM OF PROVEN COMPETENCE
To realise his winegrowing ambitions and to pursue his quest for excellence, Philippe Austruy has surrounded himself with a closely-knit team of proven competence. As in the case of the group’s other properties (the Quinta da Côrte in the Douro, the reds of the Commanderie de Peyrassol and the adjoining La Bernarde domaine, and the Tenuta Casenuove in Tuscany), Stéphane Derenoncourt and his team were recruited to oversee the work. Since the end of 2012 they have been conducting audits, establishing new quality guidelines for the domaine, supervising the vinification and blending processes and, in short, mentoring the Château Malescasse as it seeks to establish its own identity. They have also lent their support to Bertrand Chemin, the winemaster, who has a deep knowledge of the domaine, having been in charge of vinification since 2000. Nicolas Dubedout joined the team in 2014 as vineyard manager after having spent 8 years at the Château Chasse-Spleen and three years at the famed Château Latour in Pauillac.
The vines of the Château Malescasse rise to a “peak” some 20 metres above sea level. They sit on the famous gravelly croupes of the Haut-Médoc – soft rolling slopes formed by alluvial deposits laid down by the Garonne during the Quaternary, whose “summits” make an important contribution to producing quality wines. These deposits, consisting of sand and gravel mixed with clay in varying proportions on a limestone substrate, are a key feature contributing to the greatness of the Médoc, and of the Château Malescasse in particular.
Varieties on level pegging: At the moment Merlot and Cabernet- Sauvignon are more or less on an equal footing, with 49% Merlot and 45% Cabernet-Sauvignon, the remaining 6% being Petit-Verdot.
Innovating in the field: The latest innovation, introduced six years ago and now applied to 70% of the vineyard, is the planting of cereals between the rows – field peas, triticale and wheat. Amongst other benefits this helps with decompacting the soil, stimulating micro-organisms and providing a natural green fertiliser. By competing with the vines, this vegetation cover is also an excellent way of controlling their vigour. In accordance with the philosophy of the Philippe Astray domaines, the over-riding concern is to monitor and nurture the progress of the vintage – which presents a different scenario every year – rather than forcing it into line through the use of standardised procedures. The meticulous logic of this approach is then carried over quite naturally to the winery.
Hall 1 / Stand C44