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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Ch. Malescasse An Elegant Bordeaux At A Great Price

Chateau Malescasse 2016, Bordeaux

Cost: $22-24

Over time I have noticed that more than half of my wine reviews tend to be of American wines. In the past three years about 60 percent of my reviews in The Augusta Chronicle cover wines made in the United States.

That is mostly by design because American wines tend to be more widely available here and are easier for most wine drinkers to understand.

But there are so many great wines from all over the world that I try not to slight the imports. I try to keep an eye out for the bargains, especially, because the top wines often price themselves in the special occasion category.

When I find a great Bordeaux wine for under $30 I can’t wait to write about it. Chateau Malescasse 2016 is a terrific bargain, selling for $22-24. It has everything you look for a in Bordeaux: luxurious taste, good structure, powerful fruit flavors blended with fine tannins and an ability to keep the wine for years.

Malescasse has all of that in spades.

It is a beautiful deep garnet with hints of purple in the glass. Powerful aromas of blackberry, raspberry and plums keep pouring out. Each sip reveals another layer of flavor, with black fruit leading the way.

The wine has a smooth, elegant mouthfeel, with dense flavors and a hint of wood. The mature tannins pull all the fruit together in a tight package. Everything is in balance.

This is a wine that is wonderful to sip, but the flavors really explode when you eat something as you sip.

The wine is a blend of 53 percent merlot, 38 percent cabernet sauvignon and 9 percent petit verdot. After a manual harvest the grapes are de-stemmed and sent to vats by gravity. Cool fermentation lasts for about four weeks, with gentle punching down to help extract tannins.

Malolactic fermentation occurs after the wine is placed in oak barrels, 30 percent of which are new wood. The wine spends 14 months in barrels before it is bottled.

Chateau Malescasse is in the Haut Médoc at Lamarque, between Margaux and Saint-Julien, at the highest point in the Médoc. All the grapes come from the 99-acre estate, so Malescasse controls the wine making from beginning to end.

Philippe Austruy, the owner, believes in sustainable agriculture, with soil treatment kept to a minimum and pesticides used only sparingly. No herbicides are used, and cereals are grown between the vines. The wines are classified Cru Bourgeois, a high classification. The 2016 vintage is considered an outstanding vintage, with many experts saying the vintage has the potential for many 100 point wines.

I would chill this wine slightly before opening and then open the wine at least 30 minutes before drinking. This is a robust wine that should age well for at least 20 years, so it is important to let it breathe before serving.

Officially recognized as an AOC region since 1935, the Haut Médoc constitutes a third of the Médoc and its 11,300 acres allow many nuances, from one castle to another. 

Winery: Though the chateau has changed hands many times, its wines have appeared in the records of wine brokers since the beginning of the 19th century. They have been consistently known to be high quality wines.

The castle was built in 1824 in the neo-classical style of the age by the Renouil family. In 1970 Guy Tesseron, originally from Cognac, bought the property. Working with his son Alfred, he restored building and replanted the vines.

By the time it was fully restored in 1992 it was bought by Alcatel-Alsthorn, but after about 20 years the telecommunications company sold it to Austruy.

Austruy is a major player in the French health sector, but he is passionate about wine. He owns several other properties and has restored them to their former glory.

After buying Malescasse he renovated the cellars and restructured the vineyards. A stunning manor house was renovated and now serves as a tasting room and guesthouse.

Each of the 28 plots in the vineyard is worked separately with the vines watched closely throughout the growing cycle. Each plot has its own characteristics which contribute to the complexity of the wine.

The chateau produces two wines, Chateau Malescasse and a second level wine, La Closerie de Malescasse. The premier wine accounts for no more than 45 percent of production with mostly younger grapes going into the second wine.

The way the winery is set up it can make wine in small batches and then blend the wines.

Micheala and Michael enjoyed the Ch. Malecasse with chicken stir fry.

Goes With: We had this wonderful wine with chicken stir fry when my son Michael and his girlfriend Micheala came over to help us hand out candy on Halloween. When I say help I mean Micheala mostly did it all.

This isn’t a traditional pairing because you don’t often think of a Bordeaux with chicken, but the combination of the wine and the spicy chicken was perfect.

I use an electric wok to make this, starting with large chunks of chicken breast fried in oil with diced ginger and garlic. I remove the meat and then use a small amount of oil to cook carrots, celery, bell peppers, green onions, snow peas, peanuts and water chestnuts. You could use just about any vegetable you like in this dish.

After mixing the chicken back in I add a sauce of soy sauce, chicken broth, sherry, red pepper flakes and Morton Nature’s Seasons. I try to cook it quickly to keep the vegetables fresh and crunchy. I serve it over brown rice.

The dish is hearty and needs a good wine to stand up to it. That’s why I found the Chateau Malescasse so good with it. The wine is fresh and full of great flavors, but not so bold that it overpowers the food.

You could also serve this wine with lamb, a T-bone steak, duck confit or rabbit paté. This also would be a good wine with holiday meals, including the Thanksgiving turkey.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at

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