We’ve worked with Grégoire and Bénédicte Hubau for several years now, and I find my head turning just a bit every time they open, decant, and serve one of their wines. It usually spins me back about forty years or so, back to the days when I was regularly tasting red Bordeaux wines from Joe Phelps’s cellar that came from vintages like 1945, 1952, 1961, or even older. Joe had an amazing cellar of old Bordeaux, and he was generous beyond belief with them. For the better part of a ten-year period, he joined Barbara and me for dinner almost weekly, and he always brought along a beautiful old Claret from his collection. I think the similarity between then and now has a lot to do with the “natural wine” theories of Grégoire. His wines have a core structure of fruit and flavor that I simply don’t find often these days. Moreover, his winemaking is traditional, with extended maceration and less racking. He rarely fines and never filters; he simply makes wine just like they did in 1945. The results speak volumes. Far too many people are missing out because they don’t see the names Pauillac or St. Julien or Margaux on Grégoire’s labels. Try a bottle of his 2007 Moulin Pey-Labrie with a Léoville Las Cases like I did recently. Your questions will quickly be answered.
I first came to know wine through Bordeaux. What I know now that I wish I knew back then—there is a whole galaxy of wine to explore once you leave the region’s archaic and contentious classification system behind. Take Canon-Fronsac, where Bénédicte and Grégoire Hubau tend their vines. In the eighteenth century, this appellation’s wines were considered among the best in Bordeaux and were enjoyed at the Court of Versailles. What’s more, the clay and limestone soils, located just a few miles west of St. Émilion, are ideally suited for Merlot.
Today Canon-Fronsac is overshadowed by its more famous neighbors in the Médoc, which is just fine with me. Values abound, and vignerons make wine for the table, not the auction block. The Hubaus’ Château Moulin is a prime example—a nose brimming with pure red fruit and cassis, with whiffs of earth and mint, and a palate as soft and supple as a Debussy nocturne.
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