Jonathan Maltus was the first Englishman to receive 100 points from Robert Parker for one of his wines. He arrived in Bordeaux in 1994, selling his project management company in order to buy the picturesque but otherwise unremarkable Château Teyssier. Hard work and serious investment established Château Teyssier as a remarkably successful St Emilion brand, but the sandy soils of Vignonet were never going to provide the terroir for true St Emilion greatness. So, Jonathan set out to find himself some good terroir.
First of all, in 1996, he purchased a 3.5ha plot from Vieux Château Mazerat when one of the two brothers who owned the estate died. This he christened Le Dôme. The plot sits next to Château Angélus on almost Pomerol-esque ground – sandy soil over a layer of crasse de fer (a rich iron oxide). The vines, planted in 1956 and 1970, are 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, making Le Dôme the most Cabernet Franc dominant wine in St Emilion. In 1996, Le Dôme was at the forefront of the garagiste movement and went into exclusively new oak, although latterly the new oak proportion has dropped back to 80%.
In 2004 Jonathan took on a 1.2ha plot that had been part of Château Fonroque, that lay on a hard limestone called calcaire à astéries, so he named the wine Les Astéries. The 80 year old vines are 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
Next, in 2005, came Le Carré – a 1.1ha plot next to Clos Fourtet on more typically St Emilion clay over limestone soil. Le Carré is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
And, in 2008, when the other brother at Vieux Château Mazerat died, Jonathan purchased the rest of the estate. The 3.5ha of vineyard also lie next to Château Angélus (and, also, Château Canon) but in a separate block from Le Dôme, on more usual clay/limestone soil, and with a different grape mix (65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc), so the old estate was not re-united. But in a nod to their former joint status, the Vieux Château Mazerat has the same label as Le Dôme except the colours are reversed.