In 1875, the year of his marriage, J. Petit-Laroche offered his wife the construction of a fine residence opposite his Médoc cellars as a wedding gift. The result was the Château as we know it today. At the same time, J. Petit-Laroche created a new wine estate in the localities of Maucaillou and Caubet, with an area of 1.5 ha, named Chateau Maucaillou. Maucaillou means mauvais cailloux, French for 'bad stone', as the term was understood by the farmers of the middle ages, given that this type of gravel plot was not suitable for growing cereal, the main source of livelihood at the time. It was later discovered that such gravel outcrops constituted an ideal terroir for highly expressive vineyards.
In 1929, Roger and André Dourthe purchased Caves et Entrepots de Moulis, located next to the railway station of Moulis-en-Médoc, to ensure easier shipment of wines throughout France and Europe. They became the owners of Chateau Maucaillou (2.5 ha, with half of the vineyard in red varieties and the other half in white varieties). In 2006, Pascal Dourthe became the manager of ChateauMaucaillou , supported by his two sisters, Caroline and Magali.
The Moulis vineyards are the oldest in the Médoc, with traces found in title deeds dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The terroirs on which the 63 hectares of Château Maucaillou vineyards grow consist of fine quaternary alluvium outcrops, a large part of which stems from the Güntz Garonne gravel stratum, at the origin of the Great Classified Crus of the Médoc. This gravel, with its big shiny stones, reflects the rays of the summer sun onto the grapes, thereby enhancing their perfect ripeness, an essential condition for the birth of a great wine.
The Château's vineyard mix was, in 2018: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc.
The harvest is often mixed, partly by hand and partly by machine, depending on plots, plant health and weather conditions. The grapes are first sorted in the vineyard. The harvest is then taken to the fermentation cellar in small bins to avoid crushing the grapes during transport.
Vinification is carefully undertaken under the watchful eye of Philippe Dourthe, graduate oenologist, in two modern vat rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The vat room, in stainless steel, is entirely thermoregulated in order to apply the specific method that Philippe Dourthe developed in 1982. It consists of vinifying at relatively low temperature over the first few days, in order to extract the quintessence of the fruit aromas of the grape, then, at the end of fermentation, letting the temperature rise to extract the finest tannins and the colour. At Maucaillou malolactic fermentation follows immediately after alcoholic fermentation.
Château Maucaillou wines are aged in barrels for 18 to 20 months. In keeping with the finest tradition, nowadays respected in only the very greatest growths, the wines are aged in carefully selected new oak barrels. Philippe Dourthe wrote his oenology thesis on the origin and characteristics of oak in the world. It is also one of his passions. 50 to 75% of the barrels are replaced by new oak for each harvest, depending on the vintage and on its capacity to handle more or less tannins from new oak of essentially French origin. Two large and fully insulated barrel ageing cellars, with a total capacity of 3,500 barrels, safely keep the first-year harvest, on the one hand, and the second-year harvest, on the other hand. During the two years of ageing, the wines are regularly racked, then fined with egg whites to ensure perfect clarity.
See also the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
Chateau Maucaillou, Cru Bourgeois, Moulis 2008 - fiche technique
~52% Cabernet Sauvignon, ~41% Merlot, ~7% Petit Verdot.
The average production of each harvest is 27,000 cases (324,000 bottles) of the Grand Vin, and 9,000 cases (102,000 bottles) of the second wine (N°2 de Château).