If you love Bordeaux, take note.
This is another rare opportunity to buy cellar-worthy Grand Cru Classé wine in tip-tip drinking condition. This time, the fully mature red is one of the very few properties to be classified in 1855 that is not based within one of the famed communes. Never mind that, this is spectacular wine and worthy of its celebrated status.
Chateau Cantemerle, one of the original Grand Cru Classé wines from the classification of 1855, is a highly-esteemed winery in the Haut-Médoc region. The Chateau is the commune of Macau, not too far north of the city of Bordeaux and Pessac-Léognan and just south of Margaux.
It is one of the oldest wineries in the Haut-Médoc region, with records dating back to the 13th century, and it was the one of the very last wines to make the classification list. It's a 5ème Grand Cru classé or "fifth growth", after what was reportedly intense lobbying by members of the Villeneuve family, though they were hardly the only people "passing envelopes" to alter the process. They bought Cantemerle in 1579 and kept it in the family until they sold-up in 1892.
The estate has 90 hectares of vineyards, which are planted with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot, in much the same way that a Margaux or Pessac property might be planted. Grapes are then hand harvested and follow a very traditional vinification including a 12 month aging in barriques, of which half are new.
It is almost always an elegant, refined wine that captures the spirit of the this in-between land (neither Margaux not Pessac) and shows elements of both: perfume from Margaux and Cassis-pencil lead from Pessac. The property is known for wines of vibrant color, generous aromatics and full-bodied flavours. Remarkably, the wines maintain their high quality even after aging for several decades and the property is never one to be questioned over its justification of status (regardless of potential lobbying back in the day, it appears that the decision was a fair one... the 1855 equivalent of VAR...)
Steven Spurrier, the legendary wine chap behind the famous of "Judgement of Paris in 1976", had this to say about the Cantemerle 2012, "Fine expression of fruit with elegance and class, this is never a big wine but it has fine natural depth and harmony".
It has graced many tables over the years, but most recently in our Allotment world, it was the star of the show at Christmas. So now you know.
Grape(s): Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Style: Svelte, Structured, Smooth, Silky, Rich, Powerful, Iconic, Full, Elegant, Dark, Complex, Broad, Balanced
Best food matches: Venison, Veal, Steak, Red Meats, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Fine Dining, Charcuterie, Beef