As summer has blessed us with her presence I thought it only fitting to end my series on good value, high quality Bordeaux wines with a terrific white wine from Chateau Mayne Pargade. The thought of sipping a refreshingly cool white wine on a hazy evening as the sun slips down and the heat of the day eases is invitingly tempting – and the 2010 Mayne Pargade will be perfect. Chateau Mayne Pargade hails from the sleepy little village of Soulignac, near Haut Benauge, and is in fact owned by the Mayor, Alain Pargade.
Alain owns several chateaux dotted about this hilly area: Chateaux Le Triac and Perron Lagravière and Haut Peyrague in Graves. Chateau Mayne Pargade sits on the crest of a little hill on clay limestone and the vineyards are in a single block offering superb views of the land below. The 99 acres of vines are planted to Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and the 2010 vintage is a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc.
Chateau Mayne Pargade 2010 is a lovely white wine and is a pale silvery yellow that has a pearlescent sheen. It’s very aromatic with floral notes of sweet summer hay, broom blossom and honey. It has good crisp acidity and is well balanced with flavours of pear, quince and lime and will pair well with chicken, smoked salmon and gravlax, white fish and seafood, pork, quiches and soft cheese.
The village of Soulignac itself clings to a hillside and small hamlets are scattered here and there, between wooded groves and vineyards. The pace of life is tranquil and the countryside is full of rustic charm. The main industry of the village is wine making and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time if you ever visited there. Soulignac is ancient – standing stones hide behind the hillocks and occasionally arrow heads and blades are dug up in the vineyards. However over 60 years ago, just after the end of the Second World War, a Roman treasure was unearthed at Soulignac which now rests at the Musée d’Aquitaine.
In 1946 Jean Seinsevin discovered a hoard of bronze and silver coins in a large earthenware pot in Soulignac. The 359 coins weighed 33kg and were from the 3rd Century AD. The effigies stamped on them were of the Emperors Valerian, Gallen, Tetricus, Claudius II, Aurelian and Constantine and dated from 255 – 355 AD. Most of the the coins bore the effigy of Tetricus who was Governor of Aquitaine in 257. Tetricus was born to a noble Roman family who had settled in Gaul. He actually became Emperor of Gaul in 271 and ruled with his son of the same name. He was the last of the Gallic Emperors and was forced to surrender his throne to Aurelian in 274.
Soulignac takes its name from Gallo Roman times and was the site of the country villa of Solinius (or Solenius). There are records of a Gallic Prince named Solinius circa 275 – perhaps it was this Roman’s hoard of coins that was discovered in 1946 – we will never know. What we do know is that today Soulignac is producing some great white wines that warrant recognition!