94-97/100 Wine Spectator 92-94/100 Robert Parker Jr. One of the first to work with the now famous Stephane Derenoncourt, proprietor Stephan von Neipperg continues to fashion some of the most consistently outstanding wines in Bordeaux. This 2010, a blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon made from tiny yields of 28 hectoliters per hectare, achieved 14.5% natural alcohol – perhaps the highest Canon La Gaffeliere has ever achieved. Dense, sweet, open-knit black cherry, licorice, incense and cassis aromas soar from the glass of this opaque purple-colored offering. Full-bodied, pure and undeniably sexy yet larger-scaled than normal, this beautiful wine should drink well for 15 or more years.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.
Chateau Canon la GaffelièreChateau Canon la Gaffelière is a Grand Cru Classé Chateau in the St Emilion appellation of Bordeaux. Owned by Count Léo de Malet Roquefort, the estate is located in the centre of the St. Emilion appellation with 25 ha of vineyards that lie at the base of the Cotes on flat, sandy gravel soils overlying clay sub soils. The vineyards are planted to 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Meticulous work in the vineyard and winery has seen a notable resurgence in quality in recent years.