Having been through many iterations since its establishment in the early 17th century, what we know today as Chateau Brane Cantenac has well and truly settled into itself and become something extraordinary.
Taking its name from the man knows as the “Napoleon of the Vineyards”, the Baron of Brane, who purchased it in 1833, the chateau has passed through several hands, finally coming to rest in the hands of Lucien Lurton in 1956. Under the Lurton family large portions of the vineyard were replanted, vine densities increased, drainage systems improved and the plantings evolved into their current varietals.
The 2016 release has garnered a huge response from critics, with James Suckling naming it “one of the best ever” from the chateau, and Jancis Robinson praising its “Cool, unforced and sophisticated” delivery as “Very competent indeed.”
The 2016 Brane-Cantenac is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenere picked from 22 September until 17 October (the tiny parcel of Carmenere picked three days later). The yields came in at 51 hectoliters per hectare and it is matured in 75% new oak and 25% one-year-old barrels, the final alcohol level 13.3%. It has a beautifully defined, very detailed bouquet with mineral-rich black fruit laced with cedar and graphite notes, living up to its nom de plume as the "Pauillac of Margaux." The palate is simply the best that I have ever tasted at the estate, without question. This has presence, but also weightlessness, filigree tannin and perfectly pitched acidity, with real intensity and drive. The tension here is outstanding and the persistence is incredibly long. It is not the showiest of all the 2016s by a long stretch, and yet it is everything you could possibly want from a Margaux. Like Beychevelle this year, the 2016 Brane-Cantenac puts recent vintages in the shade, thanks not only to the growing season, but also a new punching down system in their gravity-fed winery that was completed in 2015. The 2016 is a benchmark against which future vintages will be compared.
This is really strong from Brane-Cantenac this year with toned muscles and beautiful fruit. Full-bodied, chewy and polished. Shows wonderful intensity and density yet remains reserved and very tight. Very impressive from here. Grabs you. One of the best ever from here.
Deep colour. Intense liquorice, dark cherry, pure cassis aromas with violet, savoury oak complexity. Parma Violet, cassis dark cherry flavours, inky density, long refined tannins. A modicum of new oak pervades across the palate giving complexity, vigour and extra firmness. Attractive mineral length. Tasted at the Union des Grand Crus and at Ch Brane Cantenac.
"The 2016 Brane-Cantenac is very pretty and nuanced. The richness of the year comes through, and yet there is a good bit of freshness and energy as well to balance things out nicely. Brane-Cantenac offers a fine expression of the year in a wine that will drink well with minimal cellaring. Time in the glass brings out an attractive register of floral notes that add to the wine's undeniable appeal. 2022-2046"
93 Points, Antonio Galloni
Dark purplish crimson. Neat, unforced, smells fully ripe. Salty finish and a fine spread across the palate. Bone dry, but not too drying, finish. Cool, unforced and sophisticated. Very competent indeed.
"So much ripe and sweet tobacco on the nose with currant and blackberry character. Full body, intense tannins with density and beauty. It’s a wine with great structure and panache for this estate. Try after 2024."
96 Points, JamesSuckling.com
"The 2016 Brane-Cantenac has been on a roll of late, under the watchful eye of Henri Lurton. This latest bottled vintage is superb. The divine, pure blackberry and bilberry bouquet develops touches of graphite in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, silky-smooth texture and a superb bead of acidity. This is not a powerful Brane-Cantenac, and it is perhaps less austere than I suspected en primeur, but it should drink beautifully over the next three decades. If you have a penchant for traditional claret, it really doesn’t come better than this. 2028-2056"
96 Points, Vinous