"The 2017 Canon La Gaffelière is superb. Compelling in its aromatics and overall balance, the 2017 has so much to offer. All the elements simply fall into place. As is the case with all of Stephan von Neipperg's wines, the 2017 is wonderfully fresh and nuanced, with less muscle than in the past and noticeably more finesse. Bright floral and mocha notes add lift to the dark red stone fruits. What a gorgeous wine this is. Tasted two times."
92-95 points, Antonio Galloni
"Composed of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 Canon la Gaffeliere contains a large part of second-generation fruit because 65% of the crop was affected by frost. Deep garnet-purple in colour, it has pronounced crème de cassis, blueberry pie, red currants and red plums notes with touches of Chinese five spice, fragrant earth, tapenade and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with nice firm tannins giving a sturdy frame along with plenty of freshness supporting great mid-palate density, finishing long and earthy.
Stephan von Neipperg’s properties were significantly affected by frost, suffering more than 60% losses in most of the Vignobles Comtes von Neipperg vineyards, the exception being La Mondotte, which had no frost. “We took the decision to get really organized and bring the second-generation crop in,” he told me. Like others who received damage from frost, the first thing they did was go through the vineyard to separately flag the unaffected, partially affected and totally affected vines, which were largely scattered randomly throughout the blocks. The frost-affected vines had to be managed much more carefully in the vineyard to allow every opportunity to achieve ripeness. This meant measures such as leaf pulling to expose the fruit and obtain maximum sun exposure. The unaffected vines were harvested roughly three weeks before the frosted vines bearing second-generation fruit. In the cellar, the second-generation grapes were fermented separately, repeatedly tasted and eventually added to the trial blends. Neipperg explained, “The first generation had very fresh fruit and nice tannins but was not so full in the mid-palate. There was a bit of dilution in these grapes from the rains. The second-generation bunches were very small and the juice was much more concentrated.” In the end, it was decided that the blends were better with the inclusion of the second-generation fruit; therefore, Clos Marsalette, D’Aiguilhe, Clos de L’Oratoire and Canon-la-Gaffelière all contain a “significant proportion” of second-generation fruit. In my view, this was a successful move on Neipperg’s part, although this is certainly not so in all cases where second-generation fruit was used. Perhaps one of the most interesting tastings during my 2017 en primeur visits was tasting the Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte side by side. Both are excellent, but they taste like they come from completely different vintages, with the Canon-la-Gaffelière seeming to have two totally different ripening personalities in one wine."
91-93+ points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"Very dark, black core. Lightly minty black fruit, suggesting ripeness, and a touch of oak char. Sweet and juicy on the palate, surprisingly light overall but harmonious and mouth-wateringly fresh. Drink 2023-2030"
16.5 points, Julia Harding MW for jancisrobinson.com
"The 2017 Canon-la-Gaffelière was picked 18 September to 10 October at 16hl/ha, matured in 55% new oak. It has a fairly straightforward bouquet with high-toned black cherry and cassis fruit, the second-generation fruit lending freshness, though it does not have the complexity or depth of a great Canon-la-Gaffelière and there are a number of those in recent years. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, fleshy in the mouth and well balanced with notes of raspberry preserve, blackberry and light tea-leaves; smoky notes emerging towards the finish. This was sampled several times during my tastings, the final two showings undoubtedly superior. Yet despite the Herculean efforts I still feel that the second-generation fruit discombobulates what could have been a better wine. It should still offer a decade’s worth of drinking pleasure and in any case, it will be fascinating to see how it evolves."
87-89 points, Neal Martin
"This is really excellent for the vintage with wonderful density of fruit in terms of plum liqueur and creme de cassis. The palate’s plush but velvety with round tannins and a long finish. Should drink fabulously when young. So generous but silky and dialled-in."
94-95 points, James Suckling
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.