I’ve known Jean-Christophe Mau (left) and his father Yvon (right) for over a decade now, and watched the progress of the family’s Château Brown since they purchased the Pessac-Léognan estate in 2004. Pessac-Léognan, in the Graves region of Bordeaux’s ‘Left Bank’, is a substantial estate of 59 hectares, 29 planted to vine on the region’s famous gravel soils.
Pessac-Léognan is unusual among Bordeaux’s top appellations in that almost all estates produce both red and dry white wines. At Brown, 24.5 hectares are planted for red wines and 4.5 ha for white wines, with an average age of 21 years. For the reds Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 55% of plantings. with 40% Merlot and 5% of Petit Verdot. For white wines the vineyards are planted to 70% Sauvignon and 30% Semillon. There’s a slightly higher proportion of new barrels used for the white (50% as opposed to 40% for the red). In 2012 Jean-Christophe added a rosé to the rosta, treated very much like a serious white wine, matured in French oak barrels on the fine lees for a distinctive, gastronomic style.
I did not travel to Bordeaux for the recent en primeur tastings of the 2015 vintage, but was delighted when Jean-Christophe sent me samples of the three wines from the vintage to taste. Note that although the rosé is a finished and bottled wine, the white and red are barrel samples. Of the vintage, Jean-Christophe says: “The health of the vineyard has not been so perfect since the 2010 harvest,” describing 2015 as a “Lovely, impeccable harvest,” which chimes with every report I’ve seen that 2015 promises to be an excellent Bordeaux year.