Château Moutte-Blanc

VigneronPatrice Bortoli
LocationMacau (Gironde)
Size of Domaine4.5 ha
TerroirAtlantic climate. Deep sandy graves and ‘palus médocains’ (dried up drained swamps). 10-30m altitude.
ViticultureSustainable, plough the soils, no herbicides or pesticides, might use fungicide in difficult vintage.
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Patrice de Bortoli’s family originated from Italy, arriving in France in the early eighteenth century. But it was thanks to Patrice’s parents that Moutte Blanc was created, when nearing retirement in the early 1980s they started to tend one hectare of vines belonging to the family, restoring the vineyard, buying some good barrels and becoming passionate about their work.

Patrice joined whilst still working as an occupational therapist (becoming full time in 2000), modernisation continued, and the family gradually increased their holdings to the 4.5ha of today, with vines in the appellations of Bordeaux-Superieur, Haut-Médoc and Margaux. Patrice is quick to thank legendary Médoc wine consultant Jacques Boissenot for helping them with all aspects of their work until his death in 2014.

Patrice's quest was to save their 70/100yo petit verdot vines, which 20 years ago had almost all been pulled up throughout Bordeaux. This grape is a capricious variety, demanding over twice as much work in the vineyard as a merlot vine, and "likes to keep its toes in the water" explains Patrice, so the location in Macau, 300m away from the estuary on an old river terrace with a deep clay, pebbly base (so-called ‘palus') is perfect. Despite the age of the vines, so long as it is sensitively tended, there is very little ‘maladie du bois' and the variety provides regular reasonable yields of around 40hh.

He now provides cuttings from his vines to many of the top grand cru châteaux who appreciate the quality of the grape in their blends, but whose drier gravelly banks don't provide ideal growing conditions. The reason why petit verdot is so appreciated is for its rich deep colour, its power, depth and quality tannins which confer long ageing, heart and personality with flavours of freshly milled black pepper to the fore. Hand-harvested, it is very important to keep the fermentation temperature below 25c for petit verdot as the risk with the variety is that one can over-extract very easily.

Patrice works in a Burgundian fashion, producing six wines from his micro holdings (of which we buy three), vinifying by parcel and cépage and carrying out two ancient, very time intensive and rarely practised techniques in the cellar. He racks barrel by barrel ‘à l'esquive', (where the wine above the sediment is tapped out from a bunged hole at the bottom of the head of a barrel, with the barrel then cleaned before the wine is returned to the same barrel) avoiding the usual practice of pumping into a vat which tires and over oxygenates a wine. The other immediate advantages of this ancient practice are that wines retain their colour better and can be bottled without filtration. He does, however, carry out fining with egg whites (and only when the atmospheric pressure is high and the wines are more stable), which is done on an individual barrel basis, taking half an hour's work per barrel. Once again this avoids pumping and tiring a wine, which happens with the common practice of assembling and fining in cuve.

Aged for 12 months in 100% Allier forest, fine-grained new to 3yo barrels, the estate's main wine comprises a high 25% of petit verdot, whilst the top cuvée ‘Moisin' of which 2800bts were produced in 2015 is a 100% petit verdot from 80 to 100yo vines, aged 60% in new oak for 16 months. Both of these wines carry the humble Bordeaux Supérieur appellation (rare in the Médoc) but anyone carafeing a bottle will find a wine of the highest quality with suppleness and finesse that only the best wines can offer. Patrice also produces a little Haut-Médoc from a tiny plot of 0.30ha on a superb terroir of reddish coloured gravel opposite Ch Cantemerle in Macau.

Château Moutte-Blanc Wines

Château Moutte-Blanc

BORDEAUX SUPÉRIEUR 2015
50% Merlot, 25% Petit Verdot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon (14% alc.)

This is a very good wine from a 3ha vineyard planted in 1939 in the Margaux commune of Macau. It's rare to find a Bordeaux Supérieur in the Médoc, the more so when it has such a high percentage of petit verdot. Vigneron Patrice de Bortoli is the PV specialist in the whole of Bordeaux – the grape gives distinct freshly milled black pepper and spicy notes to the wine. Oak aged for 14 months in recent barrels, this has an elegance and unforced texture; only displayed by wines with real breed. Best carafed at the last moment. For drinking now to 2024.

Château Moutte-Blanc

HAUT-MÉDOC 2016
Marguerite
100% Cabernet Sauvignon (14% alc.)

Patrice, whose estate qualifies as one of 46 Crus Artisans, has a tiny plot of 0.30ha on a superb terroir of reddish coloured gravel opposite Ch Cantemerle in Macau. Here the vines are approaching 20yo and give a superb wine, aged in a mix of new, one and two year old barrels, with a class, reserve and elegance of dark cedar flecked fruit. A real bargain. For drinking now to 2025.

Château Moutte-Blanc

BORDEAUX SUPÉRIEUR 2015
Moisin
100% Petit Verdot (14.5% alc.)

Moutte Blanc’s top wine comes from 0.70ha of gnarled 80yo PV, 300 metres from the estuary, planted in ‘Palus’, a pebbly, clay soil. Although PV is very capricious and demands more than twice as much work in the vineyards as merlot, the spectacular wine that results is worth the effort. Given a low temperature extraction (necessary for PV) it was aged in 60% new oak with the balance from one and 2yo barrels. It was racked by an ancient practice ‘à l’esquive’, barrel by barrel, to avoid pumping and filtration, and fined by egg white in each barrel (half an hour’s work per barrel!) again to avoid pumping. It offers a fabulous bright dark plum colour, dark fruits and pepper on the nose, is very complete wine with depth and complexity, a fine tannic structure and is fresh and persistent on the finish. For drinking now to 2030.