2015 Chateau Brown Pessac-Leognan
Is it possible to have a 93-point Classified Growth Bordeaux for under $25?
Indeed it is. Right here, right now. With a little twist:
The place is Pessac-Leognan. The wine: Chateau Brown.
Now Chateau Brown may sound like a funny name for a French wine but in reality, it reflects the times in which it was born. Here goes:
Turning back the clock to the 12th century, Eleanor of Aquitaine married King Henry II of England in 1154. By this marriage, the Aquitaine – the southwest corner of France which contains Bordeaux – passed into English hands, forming the cornerstone of the Angevin Empire. There it would remain until the end of the 100 Years War, in 1453.
If you know any Brits, you know they are thirsty folk and that Bordeaux has long been a favorite. Back those centuries ago, many Brits—especially Scotsmen—found it convenient to localize their investment in the wine trade and moved on over to the continent. There they began living and working in Bordeaux. A not insignificant few of these immigrants were extremely successful, hence the odd sounding “French” Chateaux of Leoville-Barton, Talbot, and our example here – Chateau Brown.
Although Chateau Brown was planted almost 1,000 years ago, it was much later when the vineyards and land get their Scottish name from owner John Lewis Brown. John, following in the path of Richard the Lionheart (Eleanor and Henry’s son) was a devotee of Claret, the British term for Bordeaux wine, and drank it every day. With such a habit one chateau wasn’t enough to keep the wine in good supply and diversity, so he bought two – Cantenac-Brown in Margaux, and Chateau Brown in Pessac-Leognan. Unfortunately, fortunes can be drunk away, and by the modern age, Chateau Brown had fallen into disrepair with the vineyards going feral. The estate stopped producing wine in the 1950s, which is probably why you’ve never heard of Chateau Brown.
But! Lucky for us, it was purchased by the Jean-Christophe Mau Bordeaux negociant company in 2004. After purchase, Mau sold the negociant company in order to focus his efforts on the chateau. A modern rebirth was begun and here is the fruit of Mau’s labor today:
An expansive and ultra-expressive nose practically leaps from the glass – blackberries, lead pencil, raspberries and black currants, and kirsch liqueur are all layered in a deeply expansive level of flavors. The palate is simply gorgeous with a ravishing purity of supple and silky fruit, yet it maintains a distinctly elegant and long finish, representative of the great terroir of Bordeaux. It’s a simply brilliant effort. From the great 2015 vintage, this is absolutely stunning to drink now but has at least 15 more years of life in the bottle.
A thousand years of history may not have exactly come together to make this precious bottle. But when do you ever see Classified Growth Bordeaux at under $25? Only here, only now. Enjoy.
“Aromas of black olives, blackberries, blueberries and lightly toasted walnuts. Full-bodied, layered and gorgeous with such beautiful fruits and polished tannins. A beautiful thing. So drinkable now but be patient. Try in 2021.”