We encountered the wines of Château Massereau at a wine fair in New York. They are subtle and elegant, attributes not always associated with Bordeaux today. It didn't take long before we were hooked.
About 30 kilometers from Bordeaux, Chateau Massereau was built in Barsac in the 16th century and acquired by the Chaigneau family in 2000. The estate extends over 19 hectares, 10 planted to vines in the Barsac, Graves and Bordeaux Superieur appellations.
Jean-François Chaigneau and his brother Philippe manage the estate. Quality and authenticity are the hallmarks of their quest to produce fine, minimalist, authentic artisan wines. They practice meticulous vine-growing and wine-making methods, with respect for the terroir, the vines, and the grapes. Everything is done by hand, including ploughing (sometimes with horses), de-budding, thinning out of the leaves, selection of bunches and the harvest. They eschew all chemical additives in the vineyards.
Winemaking is minimalist, with natural fermentations in concrete tanks or oak casks. There is no chaptalisation, acidification, filtration, fining, or use of wine-making additives, and the addition of sulphur is kept to a minimum in order to preserve the natural freshness of the fruit. The reds, all made with varying proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Merlot and Petit Verdot are structured yet highly silky and elegant. They are beautiful examples of classic Bordeaux with refinement and drinkability. Even the humble Bordeaux Superieur offer rich complexity and quality often found in wines of twice their price. And the sweet wines are utterly sublime. From old-vine Semillon and Muscadelle vineyards, untouched by mechanization, they are from highly botrytized grapes, hand-harvested with great care, left to ferment until a little residual sugar remains. Almost nothing is added to them, save for the occasional dose of sulphur and sometimes not even that. These are sublime expressions of this golden elixir and stand up to the biggest names in the appellation. Made in only the tiniest quantities, they are truly rare and utterly delicious.