Founded in 1870, the top -quality négociant Borie-Manoux has passed down through several generations of the Castéja family, and is currently in the hands of Philippe Castéja.
The company has over ten properties, most of which are in Bordeaux, but its flagship is Château Batailley in Pauillac. This fifth growth property is one of the oldest in the Médoc and is an established favourite of members of The Society. Its name is a nod to the 100 Years War: it is thought a famous battle - or bataille in French - was fought where the vineyards are today.
Batailley has long been known for producing consistent, classic Pauillac at a fair price, but since Philippe took full control of the château in 2002, his efforts in the vineyard and cellar have made a good wine even better. The wine is usually a blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot, and spends 18 months in oak, 60% of which is new. A typically long-lasting Pauillac, it is normally ready to drink after six to seven years, and better vintages hold up well for 20 to 30 years or more.
Château Haut-Bages Monpelou, described by the Castéjas as Batailley's 'little brother', was for a long time part of Duhart-Milon, but Emile Castéja bought it in 1970. This cru bourgeois property is situated on gravel soils in the heart of the Pauillac appellation and produces cassis-flavoured wines typical of the area. Batailley lends it both cellar facilities and the expertise of its technical team.
The wine is normally 70% cabernet sauvignon with 27% merlot and 3% cabernet franc, and it spends 16 months in oak barrels, 30% of which are new oak. A stylish but relatively forward wine, it needs a good vintage to show its best, but can age well for between five to 10 years.
Another of the Castéja family's left bank Bordeaux treasures is Château Beau-Site in Saint-Estèphe. This property certainly lives up to its name: the well-situated vineyards are on one of the Médoc's highest points, and its neighbour is the third growth Château Calon-Ségur, one of Saint-Estèphe's finest properties. Since Philippe took over the estate in 2002, it has become increasingly impressive, and this always respectable, good-value claret now has extra weight and fruit. This is a cabernet-dominant wine, with around 60% of the blend made up of this grape, but it also has around 34% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. Beau-Site will age well for between five and 15 years depending on the vintage.
The Castéjas have stars on the right bank too. Château Trotte Vieille, which has been in the family's hands since 1949, is one of the finest premier grand cru properties in Saint-Emilion, and Philippe's efforts to raise quality levels yet further since 2000 have been hugely successful.
The wine typically contains 55% merlot and 5% cabernet sauvignon, but it is the 40% cabernet franc that gives Trotte Vieille its classy bouquet, length, flavour and excellent balance. It is aged for 16 months in 100% new oak, and will develop beautifully for between 10 and 25 years, however it has often been undervalued when compared with the bolder wines of some of its neighbours. Since 2002, the property has also released a second wine, La Vieille Dame.
The aptly named Château du Domaine de l'Église - thought to be the oldest property in Pomerol - can be found next to the appellation's famous church on the Pomerol plateau. Although it often slips under the radar, it was in fact the favourite wine of Philippe's father Emile Castéja, who bought the property in 1973. He replanted much of the six hectares of vines, and today the wine is 95% merlot, with a little cabernet franc making up the rest of the blend. It is aged in oak, 60% new, for around 18 months, and the finished wine is a consistently succulent, well-balanced and full-flavoured claret with enough structure to keep for eight to 20 years.