During the vinification at Sociando-Mallet, each vat is filled with grapes from well-defined plots. Depending on the year, a full crop represents about 20 vats' worth of wine. For many years, we have set aside three barrels of wine from each separate vat when the wine is run off to have a specific idea of the quality potential of each plot.
In 1995, our cellarmaster had the idea of selecting fifteen barrels from among these sixty to make a blend called "Jean Gautreau". The choice of barrels is made during a blind tasting after one year of barrel ageing. A committee consisting of the cellarmaster, the oenologist, Sylvie Gautreau, and Jean Gautreau evaluates wine from each barrel. The fifteen highest scoring barrels are blended and put into special bottles. These are brown and taller than the bottles used for Sociando-Mallet to avoid any risk of confusion between the two wines.
This was never designed to be what is called a "garage wine" with extra-low yields and unusual winemaking techniques. "Jean Gautreau" is simply another version, indeed another vision, of the Sociando-Mallet spirit, offering a different blend from the estate's main wine, the taste of a captured moment. It is not more concentrated, or better, or a luxury product, or a marketing gimmick. It is just another way of apprehending Sociando-Mallet.
The "Jean Gautreau" has a higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon than Sociando Mallet and is a somewhat austere wine in its youth, requiring longer ageing in the bottle to reach its full potential.