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Jean Gautreau,
from tennis to winegrowing…

Jean Gautreau was born in April 1927 in Lesparre into a family who had nothing whatsoever to do with the wine industry. His father was an insurance agent. Jean was an accomplished athlete. He played football and tennis, even making it to the semi-finals of the Roland Garros Juniors competition at the age of 18.
He returned to Lesparre after his military service in Morocco and worked for the brokerage firm of Miailhe in 1948 at a time when business was very tough for the Bordeaux wine trade. Regularly in touch with leading merchants, Jean Gautreau, aged 21, clearly saw the enormous potential – especially in Africa – for sales of an inexpensive blend consisting of wine from the Gers department with deeply-coloured wines from the Northern Médoc. Taking advantage of this commercial opportunity, he decided to leave his job in 1950 to become an independent broker.

Seeing that the price of Bordeaux wine was heading inexorably upward, Jean Gautreau created his own négociant firm on 1st January 1957. He soon found customers in Belgium and the Netherlands and developed a flourishing trade in quality Bordeaux wines. He innovated by introducing the concept of mobile bottling units to provide château-bottled wines to his clients.

Jean Gautreau

Jean Gautreau discovered Sociando-Mallet

Jean Gautreau discovered Sociando-Mallet in the village of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne in 1969 when looking for a wine estate to buy on behalf of a Belgian client. It was love at first sight, despite the fact that the property was in a sorry state. However, the terroir was excellent and the domain afforded a magnificent view overlooking the Gironde Estuary. Jean Gautreau immediately decided to acquire it for himself for 250,000 French francs.

There were only 5 hectares of vines at the time. The buildings were in bad shape and there was no barrel cellar – just a small vat room and garage. With help and advice from Gérard Cler, a previous employee at the château, Jean Gautreau made an acceptable first vintage and a superb second one. He was helped by the fact that Sociando-Mallet's extraordinary terroir, consisting of Günz gravel with clay subsoil, is propitious to growing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and producing wines with wonderful freshness. Jean Gautreau expanded the vineyard year after year by buying vines from his neighbours. Seeking the best possible quality, he also renovated the estate’s buildings, built a barrel cellar, and gradually improved the choice of grape varieties, matching the appropriate ones to each vineyard plot.

Today, the property is comprised of 83 hectares producing nearly 450,000 bottles a year of Château Sociando-Mallet and the second wine, Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet. Jean Gautreau sold his négociant business in 2000 and now focuses entirely on managing his wine estate.

A Basque aristocrat named Sociando

Château Sociando-Mallet is in the commune of Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne, ten kilometres north of Pauillac, in the Haut-Médoc appellation. A document dating from March 1633 refers to land here belonging to an aristocrat of Basque origin named Sociondo. A member of his family was Bishop of Bayonne. Another document, from 1750 mentions vines belonging to Demoiselle Anne de Sossiondo. Due to various misspellings over the years, "Sossiondo" became "Sociando".

The archives show that Guillaume de Brochon, a royalist solicitor who lived at Sociando, was arrested during the French Revolution in 1793. His estate was impounded, sold at auction by the revolutionary government, and acquired by his father-in-law, Jean Lamothe.

In 1831, Marie-Elisabeth Alaret, Lamothe's niece and owner of Sociando, married Achille Mallet, a naval officer. As it was the custom at the time to add one's name to an estate, the château was thereafter known as Sociando-Mallet.

The Alaret family owned Sociando-Mallet until 1878, when it came into the hands of Léon Simon.

Between then and the arrival of Jean Gautreau, the château belonged to: the wine merchant firm of Delor, Louis Roullet (Mayor of Saint-Seurin), and then Emile Tereygeol, who also owned Pontoise-Cabarrus at that time.

To the present day

With Sylvie and Arthur

Jean Gautreau passed away in October 2019, leaving Sylvie the property she had been managing since 2015. Sylvie, born in 1967, is the only child of Jean and Colette Gautreau. Sociando-Mallet was her playground as a little girl. She favours viticultural methods close to nature, following in her father’s footsteps, with the same love and respect of the land. She can be found participating in the various technical tastings and choosing the blend with her team. She lives and breathes Sociando-Mallet, indeed she IS Sociando-Mallet. Sylvie naturally infuses her son, Arthur, with this philosophy as he, in turn, grows up on the family estate.

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