Chateau Brown takes its name from the Scottish wine merchant John Lewis Brown who bought the estate in 1795. Located in Bordeaux’s prestigious Pessac-Leognan appellation, it offers good-value in an increasingly expensive neighborhood.
Over the next two centuries, the chateau had various owners before the 2004 purchase by the Bordeaux negociant Mau family and the Dutch liquor business Dirkzwager family.
Nearly half of its 140 acres is planted with grapevines for its red and white wines. Jean-Christophe Mau, the youngest member of the fifth generation in the wine trade, was placed in charge of the estate and tasked with upgrading its wines. A few months ago, I tasted his most recent results.
Pessac-Leognan is the preeminent Bordeaux appellation for dry white and red wines. Bordeaux’s highest rated- and priced dry white wine is from Pessac-Leognan’s Chateau Haut-Brion at $900 to $1,000 the bottle. Fortunately for us, Chateau Brown is much less.
The white wine production comes from a 13-acre vineyard planted with 70% sauvignon blanc and 30% semillon in the estate’s gravelly soil. The 2015 Chateau Brown Blanc is fermented for eight months in equal parts new and once-used French oak barrels. I liked its elegant, full mouth feel, lime and white nectarine aromas and flavors, but found the 13.5% alcohol too obvious. 88 points. Retail is a modest $30.
Chateau Brown’s 58 acres of red-grape vines are divided by 55% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot and 5% petit verdot. The wines are aged in French oak barrels one-third of each are new, once-used and twice-used.
In my tastings of the 2015 vintage earlier this year, I was particularly impressed with the red wines of Pessac-Leognan (see 2015 Bordeaux Grand Cru Tasting: Part Two). The 2015 Chateau Brown delivers an appealing black-cherry color, and black-cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors. Herbal accents appear behind the ripe fruit, and the gravel and limestone vineyard brings a dry, dusty taste to the finish. Emblematic of the 2015 vintage, this wine is very drinkable. 89 points. Retail prices range from $27 to $39, good value is found at less than $34.
The 2012 Chateau Brown is darker than the 2015 with black-tea, smoky, toasted oak and black-fruit aromas billowing from the glass. Its blackberry fruit flavor is intertwined with soft tannins, giving the wine a round texture, balance and length. A stream of fresh acidity made it delightful with grilled octopus. 90 points. A very broad price range of $25 to $50; good value is at less than $34.
Bordeaux’s 2009 vintage was a very hot year and produced opulent wines. Of the three vintages, the 2009 Chateau Brown is the most opaque and offers smoky, toasted oak, and blackberry aromas and flavors. Bay leaf and stone like flavors add complexity to the very ripe fruit of this eminently drinkable wine. 88 points. No longer in distribution.
Each vintage showed the consistent quality and reasonable pricing of Chateau Brown. It is an estate that provides Pessac-Leognan’s pleasures without the appellation’s sometimes extravagant cost.
Photos by John Foy