A beautiful day in Bordeaux at Clos de Jaugueyron. Photo: Cory Cartwright.

Clos du Jaugueyron: Bordeaux the Old-School Way

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Admittedly I’m not often wooed by Bordeaux. This is a region that today supplies the world with blue chip wines on the high end, industrial plonk on the other, and mostly boring wines falling somewhere in between. This is truly a shame for a region with such a rich history and well-documented winemaking potential, and also because I happen to be a bit of a traditionalist. I like Bordeaux with my steak, simple as that. Luckily for me there are an increasing number of honestly-made wines from this region that are becoming available in the states, but one winemaker truly stands out in my mind: Michel Théron of Clos du Jaugueyron.

Michel moved to Bordeaux in 1988 from the Languedoc in the south of France to study winemaking. His original plan was to complete his studies there, and then move back to the Languedoc to take over the family estate, but love prevailed when he met his Bordelaise wife. Not long after, the couple purchased a small parcel in the village of Cantenac in the Haut-Médoc in 1993 and produced their first vintage in 1994. The estate now covers 7 hectares in Cantenac, Arsac, and Margaux on soils of gravel, sand, and some clay. Michel is a big proponent of organic viticulture; he has never used synthetic sprays in his vineyards, and obtained Demeter certification in 2008. His vineyards have healthy, living soils that are far from the norm in the region.

Jaugueyron’s winemaking adheres to a similar philosophy and it is quite simple: Michel believes that all great wines are made in the vines, as opposed to in the cellar. To this end, the process is happily straightforward: grapes go into the tanks whole-cluster to promote a gentle extraction; native yeasts carry out fermentations; and the wine is then transferred to barrique, usually 25% new, but that proportion changes according to the needs of a specific vintage and cuvée. Since there is such a light extraction, racking is kept to a minimum to gain structure from the lees, and batonnage (or stirring of the lees), is employed to promote even more contact. The results are wines of terroir, not marred by chemicals or new oak, with unmatched purity and finesse.

Api - the happy vineyard dog. Photo: Cory Cartwright.

Perhaps my favorite aspect about these wines is that while they are no doubt age-worthy, they are simply delicious now, showing beautiful fruit and balance, and becoming more complex as they sit open on the dinner table. With such a simple, old-school approach and such stunning results, it’s hard to believe that there aren’t more producers taking notice of Michel’s work and attempting to follow suit. But I’ll try not to think about that, and instead I’m going to sit down with a dry-aged rib eye and drink some Clos du Jaugueyron. Tim Gagnon

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Clos du Jaugueyron (Théron) 2012 Haut-Medoc

Simply a beautiful Haut-Medoc! From parcels around Cantenac and Arsac, it is a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, with sumptuous dark berry fruits, a hint of smoke, cedar, and fresh tobacco on the nose. The palate is rather lifted, showing vibrant fruit and a touch of earth, and it is very approachable. It has great structure that hints at its aging ability, but it is more than ready to pop open at your next dinner party. Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • red
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  • $36.99

  • Biodynamic

Clos du Jaugueyron (Théron) 2012 Margaux Petit Jaug

Michel’s vineyards within the Clos du Jaugueyron in Margaux are separated into two parcels: Grand Jaugueyron and Petit Jaugueyron, which both have histories dating back to 1898. These grapes are sourced from the latter, which is planted with younger vines. Because of this, it is a Margaux that is ready and rearing to go, and is incredibly delicious! Forward and open right out of the bottle, it strikes a perfect balance of earth and fruit on the nose. The palate is ripe with red currant, licorice, and a touch of spice marrying well with fine-grained, silky tannins, making for a profoundly structured and dangerously easy-drinking wine. If you’re serious about steak, this is the wine for you. Tim Gagnon

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  • red
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  • $44.99

  • Biodynamic

Clos du Jaugueyron (Théron) 2011 Margaux

This is the most important wine in Michel’s line-up, as it is what Margaux was once known for and what it can be again if winemakers revert to the old-school traditions. It is sourced from older vines (some over 100 years old!) and is rife with aromas of purple flowers, blackberry, espresso, and cocoa. The palate is big-boned, yet has very pretty fruit and spice coming through before a long, high-toned finish. In terms of aging, this wine seems indestructible, but holds true that the wines from Clos du Jaugueyron are more than enjoyable at every stage of their life. It is serious and contemplative with unparalleled beauty.  Give this a decant before dinner, and you’ll be thrilled. Tim Gagnon

Black fruits, cassis, ash, dried thyme, graphite on the nose. Blackberry and plum flavors with hints of mint on the palate. Fine-grained, but present tannins. Good underlying structure and sense of freshness. Mid-weight, supple, and lively on a long persistent finish.  Decant 1-2 hrs ahead or hold 5-8 years and drink from there. This is lovely old school Bordeaux. (Tasted August 2017.) John McIlwain


  • Out of Stock
  • red
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  • $74.99

  • Biodynamic