If we were to make a list of our five favorite wines here at K&L, Chateau Cantemerle would certainly be on it. This top quality estate makes claret that always delivers, and at a price that normal people can afford. It is a wine that I purchase nearly every year for my own cellar, and I know that I can say the same for Clyde, Jeff and Ralph. Taking a look through the K&L records, I found 124 references for Cantemerle of all sizes and vintages over the years, with 12 in stock right now. A favorite for sure!
Chateau Cantemerle is one of the first properties that you come to when driving up the Haut Medoc from the city of Bordeaux. The Chateau’s 91 hectares of vines sit on gravel soil close to the parish of Margaux in Macau. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petite Verdot with an average vine age of 30 years. From this vineyard, they make an average of ½ million bottles a year, but never all Chateau Cantemerle- even in great years, they declassify a lot and make a 2nd wine called Les Allees De Cantemerle.
The lords of Cantmerle have history going back to 1147, and have been involved in winemaking for over 500 years. It was only at the end of the 1500’s that the prime agricultural activity at the property switched over to wine; for many years the Medoc was primarily producing cereal grains. The owners of the property have always been at the front of improvements in the vineyard, and they were the first to introduce the Bordeaux mixture against mildew in the mid 1800's.
My inspiration for writing this piece came from the bottle of 1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc ($44.99) that Cinnamon and I had last night with an excellent New York Steak from Five Mary’s Farm. As most readers of these pages know, Cinnamon and I celebrate every Friday with steak & claret night, and this was a special one. Cinnamon prepared russet potato squares and the New York in the cast iron pan, and steamed some excellent French green beans. We decanted the wine a little over an hour ahead.
I was over the moon for the 1999, and I might have enjoyed a little more than my half of the bottle, but at 12.5% the wine was as mild as mother’s milk. I found the wine lively and full of verve at 16 years old and yet silky and integrated. In 1999 they made 300,000 bottles of the first wine, declassifying the other third of the production. The composition is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Cinnamon and I both found the wine plumy from the high percentage of Merlot and I loved the minty focus on the back end. This is long finishing stuff and the good acid on the back cut the richness of the meat while the expressive fruit played excellent counterpoint to it. What a treat!
This is what we have currently in stock and on prearrival from Cantemerle:
2014 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L (Prearrival) $53.99
2013 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc (Prearrival) $29.99
2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $29.99
2011 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $29.99
2010 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $42.99 94 points Parker, who writes: The wine needs a good 7-10 years of cellaring and should keep for 30 more years, but this is the finest Cantemerle I have encountered in my professional career of tasting young vintages (dating back 34 years now). Stunningly deep ruby/purple, with a beautiful nose of spring flowers intermixed with perfumed raspberry and blueberry notes, it exhibits a sort of cool-climate character. Broad, rich and intense on the palate, the wine has plenty of tannins, but they are sweet and well-integrated. Everything is delicately entwined into this beautiful, medium to full-bodied, dense purple wine, which shows stunning character and a prodigious potential for development. This is definitely a major sleeper of the vintage and even better than I thought from barrel. With its 2010, this classified growth located in the southern end of the Medoc may well have made a modern-day version of their legendary 1949. (RP)
2012 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 1.5L $64.99
2006 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $39.99
2005 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc 3L $269.99
2001 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $49.99
2000 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $59.99
1999 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $44.99
1949 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc $899.99 From Mahler-Besse, the best cellar in Bordeaux. Parker calls this “one of Bordeaux’s greatest efforts” and Clyde agrees.
A toast to you!