James Suckling - jamessuckling.com - April 2018
About this WINE
This excellent little property in the obscure Côtes de Francs is producing delicious wines.
Owned by the president of Bordeaux negociant, Dourthe, Jean-Marie Chadronnier, Chateau Marsau has been heralded by Robert Parker as "The Petrus of the Côtes de Francs".
Lying at the top of a hill, north-east of the village of Francs, the vineyards benefit from an excellent microclimate, with exceptional sunshine hours. The soils are predominantly clay which suits the Merlot grape variety, with which 85% of the vineyards are planted, very well.
The character of the wines is classic right-bank with soft, round, elegant fruit and fabulous balance.
Cotes de Francs
Although with a wine-growing history that dates back to the 11th century, Côtes de Francs only received its Appellation Contrôllée in 1976. Production is almost entirely red, with Merlot the most important contributor. The region itself adjoins the St Emilion satellite appellations of Puisseguin and Lussac, and style of the wine is not dissimilar. The Côtes de Francs is seen as a region of some potential, attractive several luminaries from the major Bordeaux estates, including the Hébrard and Boüard families (Ch. De Francs), Patrick Valette (Ch. La Prade) and the Thienponts (Ch. Puyguéraud). Jean-Marie Chadronniers Ch. Marsau is a fine introduction to the region.
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux and a grape that has been on a relentless expansion drive throughout the world in the last decade. Merlot is adaptable to most soils and is relatively simple to cultivate. It is a vigorous naturally high yielding grape that requires savage pruning - over-cropped Merlot-based wines are dilute and bland. It is also vital to pick at optimum ripeness as Merlot can quickly lose its varietal characteristics if harvested overripe.
In St.Emilion and Pomerol it withstands the moist clay rich soils far better than Cabernet grapes, and at it best produces opulently rich, plummy clarets with succulent fruitcake-like nuances. Le Pin, Pétrus and Clinet are examples of hedonistically rich Merlot wines at their very best. It also plays a key supporting role in filling out the middle palate of the Cabernet-dominated wines of the Médoc and Graves.