Wine of the week

Château Haut Condissas 2014

The garage wine that tops the Grand Crus classés of Bordeaux! In twenty years, this château has become a reference in the Médoc, this kind of golden nugget with unbeatable value for money and impressive character. It is the initiative of an ambitious and visionary man, Jean Guyon, who has come out ahead of some of the Grand Crus classés of Bordeaux and Pomerol in blind tastings. Let's take a look at this success story through the tasting of the 2014 vintage, which is being highlighted this week.

By Valentin Cotton

Jean Guyon, from 2 hectares of passion to the Bordeaux empire 

Interior designer, art gallery owner, Jean Guyon is an elegant and refined man. After graduating from the Ecole Boule, he became one of the most prominent decorators in Paris but also worldwide.

Jean Guyon, l'homme aux manettes du Château Haut Condissas.
Jean Guyon, the man in charge of Château Haut Condissas.

Passionate about wine, he could not resist the offer to buy two hectares of vines in the Médoc. This is a tiny area on theleft bank of Bordeaux. But who cares, Jean Guyon will make a wine for his friends. A good wine, since these vines face the Gironde, a guarantee of the best terroirs. The story begins, this Parisian just bought the Château Rollan de By. The man is demanding and without waiting, the wine that come from the cellar are very well made. Little by little, Jean Guyon managed to buy up adjacent hectares of vines, thus increasing the surface area of the Château. The finger was caught in the gear and the owner in the game. 

Les vignes qui entourent le domaine de Jean Guyon.
The vines surrounding Jean Guyon’s field.

The years went by and Château Rollan de By became a reference in the Médoc due to its undeniable quality but also by its very contained price. In 1995, the Château’s oenologist informed the owner that he thought he had succeeded in getting the best out of the quality of the terroir, it would be difficult to do better. Jean Guyon is a perfectionist, feeling limited makes him claustrophobic, so he decides to select the best parcels to make a very great wine. This was to be the Château Haut Condissas. It was a total success, but we will see below the reasons for this. Confirmed by his choices, Jean Guyon became one of the most respected Bordeaux owners, despite his clear-cut positions – such as getting out of the Crus Bourgeois classification, or denouncing the in-between of the Bordeaux market place that in his opinion was hampering the evolution of the wines – and it was therefore natural that he decided to expand his vineyard by buying up various properties. Today, a total of 185 hectares belong to Jean Guyon, producing wine that are recognised by all and have earned him the respect of all his peers. Mission accomplished, hats off to him.

Château Haut Condissas, the great ones’ ambition

It was in 1995 that Jean Guyon decided to select a few hectares to elaborate a very great wine. This was the decade during which the notion of “garage wines” appeared on the right bank, and that it was to take on board in the philosophy of Haut Condissas. 

Le Château Haut Condissas.
The Château Haut Condissas.

Small production, but means worthy of the premiers grands crus classés in the creation of this bottle. Everything is done to extract the quintessence of the grapes, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. The wine’s DNA according to its creator is faithful to what he likes and his philosophy. Accessibility from the youth of the wine, but with a structure and a potential equal to the greatest. One thing that directly surprises us is the majority of merlot. Indeed, this grape variety is mainly found on the right bank (Saint-Emilion and Pomerol in particular), leaving its place to cabernet sauvignon on the left bank. This choice can be explained by the desire to give the wine a fruity aroma rather than a structure, in order to give it a charming smoothness. Also note the important presence of the petit verdot grape variety, bringing spices aromas and chewiness. The art of blending is similar to seasoning in gastronomy, everything must be thought out to enrich the final result. 

The success is total and is not long in coming. Player, Jean Guyon likes to present his wine to the blind, especially during professional tastings. It is not rare to see Château Haut Condissas ranked before celebrities like Petrus (the pope of Merlot if ever there was one), Lafite Rothschild or Château Palmer for example. The 1855 classification being fixed, it is by this means that one can judge the true value of the wines today. Blind tasting cannot lie. 

Les différents millésimes du Château Haut Condissas.
The different vintages of Château Haut Condissas.

It goes without saying the Château Haut Condissas is a reference to have in a wine cellar, for a contained price and an undeniable pleasure. Accessible in its youth with a great capacity for ageing, it allows you to always find an optimal tasting range. Moreover, the style is resolutely modern that in a period when Bordeaux can sometimes have an ageing image, makes this wine accessible to the greatest number of people!

The wine of the week: Château Haut Condissas 2014

Haut Condissas 2014 – 60% Merlot – 20% Petit Verdot – 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – 10% Cabernet Franc.

This vintage has the particularity of being very accessible now. A year that was somehow overlooked and passed under the radar, 2014 required a lot of work in the vineyard in order to produce beautiful wines. Indeed, August was rainy, but September was magnificent, so it was necessary to wait a little before harvesting in order to have an optimal maturity but also to have a healthy harvest without cryptogamic diseases. A balancing act, you might think? Who let you think that wine maker was an easy job? 
The presence of a large majority of Merlot gives Haut-Condissas 2014 a great aromatic expression. The nose is charming, with jammy red fruits, prunes and raspberry jam, accompanied by a slight woodiness due to the ageing process. The palate is suave, greedy with a very nice balance. The tannins are perfectly melted and of very high quality. The finish shows slight gamey notes that suggest a very fine evolution over time. 
A great Bordeaux, with class but without any prudishness!

Price : €48


You can also find Valentin Cotton on Instagram @Winepoetry_ 

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