Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 97-point Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classe for $99 per bottle? This is the Saint-Émilion buy of the incredible 2015 vintage!
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous also scored this 2015 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière 97 points, raving that it is “seamless and captivating in the glass,” and “possesses magnificent richness, volume and intensity in every dimension.” This is simply classic Bordeaux, possessing sumptuous cassis concentration and chalky mineral depth while boasting easily two decades of aging potential. If you’ve been following the critical acclaim over Bordeaux’s historic 2015s and are looking to secure one of the very best, today is your best shot. Direct from the château cellars in perfect condition and with perfect provenance.
Count Stephan von Neipperg is among the Right Bank’s most fascinating and charismatic characters. His style (ascots, double-breasted blazers) and name are distinctly old-world, marking him as a member of an aristocratic family whose winemaking history dates back to the 13th century. Yet in viniculture he has often been at the cutting edge of his field, one of Bordeaux’s pioneers in biodynamic farming.
Of the six châteaux he owns, the most famous is Saint-Émilion’s Premier Grand Cru Classé Château Canon-la-Gaffelière. A stone’s throw from the legendary Château Ausone, these 48 acres at the foot of a slope are comprised of complex sandy, clay, and limestone soils that have produced brilliant wines since the 17th century.
It was here that in the early 1980s, Von Neipperg began putting his forward-thinking ideas into practice, instituting green harvesting, cutting out chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and returning to the principles of organic cultivation in the vineyards. He hired the self-taught flying winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt, renowned for his work at Château Pavie Macquin and Clos Fourtet. Within years the château established itself at the forefront of the appellation, leading Robert Parker to call Château Canon-la-Gaffelière “one of my favorite St.-Emilions since the late 1980s.”
Canon-la-Gaffelière’s estate vineyards are planted to 55% Merlot, and unusually, 40% Cabernet Franc, with just 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines averaging 45 years of age. They harvest beautiful BB-sized berries that are fermented in oak, which helps integrate tannin and flavors and maximize ageability.
At a Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Tasting in San Francisco, the Count explained the relationship between the estate’s patchwork of clay topsoils and the high amount of Cabernet Franc. “The clay is warmer,” he told us, “and the growing season for Cab Franc occurs earlier. What I love about is the structure and beautiful complexity it adds to the Merlot — lots of aromatics, spice, and tobacco leaf, while lending an impressive length.”
In 2015, a vintage Wine Advocate called “extraordinary” and “outstanding” in Bordeaux, Canon-la-Gaffelière was the star of Saint-Émilion, earning a pair of 97-point scores from Parker’s publication and Vinous’s Antonio Galloni. The latter critic raved: “Seamless and captivating in the glass, it possesses magnificent richness, volume and intensity in every dimension.”=
This is one of the wines that sums up everything we love about Bordeaux: tannic power, incredible cellaring potential, sumptuous dark-fruit concentration, a richly perfumed nose. Decant and drink today, or let it gather brooding power over the next 15-20 years.
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