Tracking down wines from the lesser known chateaux on family estates of Bordeaux wine makers can lead to some great discoveries. The chateaux on these estates are often owned by younger generations who are aiming to prove themselves in the wine world. These chateaux benefit from the introduction of modern wine making techniques, improvements in quality and are revived by a fresh enthusiasm brought in by the young folk. They are also a source of some superb good value, high quality Bordeaux wines.
Chateau de Hartes is a lovely claret made by dynamic young wine maker Oriane Mazeau. Oriane is a 5th generation wine maker and her great great Grandfather was Charles Mallet, one time owner of Chateau Lascombes in Margaux. Charles Mallet built up a very successful wine business after the First World War and was actually the biggest supplier of wines to Paris at the time.
He purchased Chateau Toutigeac in 1928 and Oriane has continued the family tradition since obtaining her qualifications in both viticulture and oenology and having gained wine making experience working in Spain with the wines of the Rioja region. Chateau de Hartes is part of the Toutigeac estate and their wines have been awarded more than 50 medals since 1973 by the ‘Concours Général Agricole de Paris’, ‘Concours des Vins de Bordeaux’, ‘Challenge International du Vin’ and many more.
Oriane’s uncles all own chateaux in the area surrounding Chateau Toutigeac including Chateaux de Costis, Bel-Orme Martial, Rougi, Vieil Orme and de Boissac. Oriane has modernised the estate’s outlook and also produces Chateau Pradeau Mazeau, O de Toutigeac and X de Toutigeac from the estate.
Chateau de Hartes takes its name from the Gascon word ‘hart’ which means that you are ‘satiated’ – Oriane’s household is one where you eat well and plenty! The estate lies in Targon but Toutigeac itself was once a tiny hamlet and the remains of an ancient ruined Romanesque church within its boundaries. The site of Toutigeac is very old and relics from the 12th Century have been found there. It is thought to have been founded by the monks of Saint Gerard who lived at the great Abbey – La Sauve Majeure – nearby. They founded a small community, planted vines and built the church, dedicated to Saint Genesius.
St Gerard was born in Picardy and travelled the old Pilgrimage route in search of a cure for his migraines. Constantly on the road he encountered the Duke of Aquitaine who gave him the forest between the Dordogne and Garonne. He settled here and founded the Abbey in 1079 and at its peak 300 monks lived in and around the region. One hundred years later the Knights Templar founded the Commanderie Montarouch in Targon and still houses 13th century frescoes.
The whole area is picturesque and lies at the heart of the Entre Deux Mers, looking out over a rolling panorama of vines, forests and charming villages – it’s often called a ‘little Tuscany’ by visitors.
Chateau de Hartes 2009 is a real find and represents good value at £9.35. This is a very well-crafted claret and is a dark crimson colour. It has complex floral aromas with a good body, plenty of ripe black fruit and a hint of pepper, herbs and spice. It’s made from a blend of 25% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Cabernet Franc and develops well over time. Well balanced and smooth Chateau de Hartes will compliment roast beef, sirloin steak, rich casseroles, game pie, duck and strong cheeses.