Officially, Petit Manou is Clos Manou's second wine produced by Françoise and Stéphane Dief. In reality, it has become a wine in its own right, the product of old vines (average age of 40) grown on seven hectares, which has enjoyed a certain notoriety for several years now. Above all, it confirms itself year after year as a truly great wine, and is regularly lauded in these pages. A pinnacle has been reached with the 2010 vintage, with its blend of more-than-perfect Merlot and Cabernets. The intensity of its garnet colour already hints at the amplitude of its bouquet, which opens on a subtly balanced blend of black berries, liquorice and cocoa. A harmony echoed in a palate of outstanding volume and density, leaving in its wake the memory of a round, soft and silky wine. An excellent Médoc that may be cellared for the next 10 years but which can be opened in two to four years' time.
"I'm only Petit Manou" proclaims the label.
And yet it's been years that Clos Manou's second wine has scored two stars in the guide, tasted blind. So what's new?
Production has increased following the inclusion of a further hectare of old vines in the wine. This has resulted in a 2008 vintage of deep purple colour that expresses all the complexity of a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and absolute control of the winemaking process. The attack is fresh and persistent, underpinned by well coated tannins, the palate is at once powerful and harmonious. Cellaring for five years or more will be necessary before envisaging serving this with woodcock.
While Petit Manou is officially Clos Manou's second wine, it is no longer produced in limited quantities (7,000 bottles for the 2006 vintage) from young vines on the property, but is now made on a larger scale from old vines (including four hectares of forty-year-old vines recently acquired). Merlot (60%) dominates the blend of this 2007 whose bouquet combines a lovely fruitiness with notes of ageing (toasted notes), developing into a round wine with pleasant tannins. An excellent bottle that will benefit from a short spell in the cellar.
A superb clay-limestone soil and excellent winemaking techniques (double sorting of grapes, oak vats, cap punching) is all that needed to create a wine with a complex nose (prune, black cherry, cedar, vanilla and spices) and a rich, round, tannic and well balanced profile. Has everything needed to guarantee good ageing potential, over five years. Françoise and Stéphane Dief have crafted a remarkable second wine (after Clos Manou) for the fourth year running.
This 2005 confirms the rising quality of Clos Manou's second wine, produced from the young vines on its estate. Delicious and full of flavour, it is a pleasing deep colour reminiscent of crushed red plums. Slightly mineral, the bouquet is reflected on the palate with its fruit and cocoa notes. Full, round and harmonious, this sensual wine should be kept for another three to four years.
"I am only Petit Manou" reads the label on Clos Manou's second wine. But if the reliability of this wine through the years is anything to do by, it's already a good sign! This is a very concentrated wine, both on the nose and on the palate. Underpinned by an excellent quality of wood giving roasted and toasted coffee aromas, it's the ripe black fruit that dominates here. Full and powerful, it remains silky and rich. A remarkable success for the vintage.
A wonderful clay-limestone soil, that explains the 56% share of Merlot, and passionate winegrowers, you couldn't ask for anything more to achieve such a resounding success.
A ruby robe announces the strong personality of this 2003, which is slightly dominated by oaky notes in its aromatic expression.
Toast, grilled notes and crème brûlée, the oak triumphs; but only for a moment, as the fruit quickly follows with ripe berries, stewed cherries and strawberry. Warm and well balanced, the palate has the structure required for long cellaring (five to six years, or even longer) but is also enjoyable now. A fine example of a modern Médoc. It is a pity that its production is limited.