Father and son wine-making team, Paul and Cedric Valade welcomed us to their new house in St Emilion. The cellar is still under construction, but it will occupy an imposing position overlooking Barde Haut when it is completed. Cedric explained that flowering and the early growing season were good. The cool and gloomy weather then delayed progress. By mid-August he didn't have much hope, but two months of perfect weather rescued the crop. They harvested in glorious conditions in the first week of October with no risk of botrytis. The final blend is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Lovely notes of violets and cut flowers mingle with velour textured fruit. There is good density without any over-extraction. This is typically solid and well-built, but perhaps the flavours are a little more precise than normal and the acidity of the vintage lends a real lift and elegance. A very successful Grand Maye.
Situated in the Côtes de Castillon, where the terroir is similar to the higher vineyards of St Emilion, Château La Grande Maye reminds you that Bordeaux is not just about astronomically priced classed growths. The average age of vines on this 18 hectare Estate is 30 years and consist predominantly of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The final blend spends a year in 1/3 new oak barrels and with its ripeness of fruit, grainy texture and complexity offers a value for money the rest of the world would be hard pushed to beat.
These are Merlot based wines, sometimes with Cabernet Franc, that betray a fleshiness and sturdiness that can be drunk 1-5 years after the vintage. The region is named after the town of Castillon-la-Bataille, the battle that brought an end to the hundred years war.