|European Wine Resource||USD 118.00 $118.00 750ml|
|Aabalat||USD 143.65 $143.65 750ml|
Clos la Gaffelière Red Bordeaux Blend St. Émilion Grand Cru 2000
The majority of the leading St Emilion estates are located on the limestone plateau around the town, or on the slopes, known collectively as the Côtes, or alternatively on the Graves (not to be confused with the vineyards around Pessac and Léognan, alongside the Garonne), which leads on to the vineyards of Pomerol. The vineyards of Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière lie on the Pieds de Côtes, on the celebrated limestone escarpment, although with a more sandy character towards the foot of the slope. Further south the plain stretches down to the Dordogne, here the soils are increasingly sandy, and there are few chateaux of note here, save for maybe Chateau Monbousquet. The land around St Emilion is no stranger to viticulture, archaeological excavation at the nearby Chateau La Gaffelière having unearthed Roman mosaics depicting the planting of vines. The origin of the name Gaffelière is not, however, quite so ancient; it is a derivative of gaffet, which translates as leper. The land around Canon-la-Gaffelière was the location for a leper colony, which was still in existence in the 17th Century, when a huge swathe of real estate, including the colony, was purchased by the Comte de Malets-Roqueforts. The new owners rented out much of what they owned on to share-croppers, a system whereby the tenants worked the land, which they paid for by handing over a proportion of the harvest to their landlords each year. With the passage of time this huge estate was divided up, with a portion owned by a gentleman named Boitard destined to become Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière, whilst the descendants of Comte de Malets-Roqueforts held on to Chateau La Gaffelière itself. The current owner, Comte Stephan von Neipperg, doesn't come onto the scene until the late 20th Century. It is in fact his father who enters first; Joseph-Hubert, Graf von Neipperg, a descendant of Franconian nobility. Joseph-Hubert was the most recent generation in a long line of successful winemakers in his homeland, Württemberg, which is now part of Baden-Württemberg, a southwest German state. He bought Canon-la-Gaffelière in 1971, but it is his son, Stephan, that has been credited with the transformation of this St Emilion estate after taking control in 1985. His influence is considerable, and his great success, in more recent vintages working with oenologist Stéphane Derenoncourt, has allowed him to expand his portfolio of properties, which now includes Clos de l'Oratoire, the celebrated 4.5 ha garagiste estate La Mondotte and Chateau d'Aiguilhe in the Côtes de Castillon, among others. Andrew Jefford, in The New France (2002), describes von Neipperg as one of the two most influential of Bordeaux's present-day proprietors. High praise indeed, which I think reflects von Neipperg's unending push for quality, based on not only good cellar management but also attention to the finest detail in the vineyard. As mentioned above, the vineyards of Canon-la-Gaffelière lie on the slopes of St Emilion's limestone plateau, with limestone, clay and sandy soils. It is a single block of vines, 19.5 hectares in size; von Neipperg would have included disparate plots in the blend of Canon-la-Gaffelière, but was informed by local authorities that his chateau faced demotion from its ranking as Grand Cru Classé if he did so. And so the disparate plot continued to fly solo, von Neipperg and Derenoncourt moulding the wines it produced into what we now know as La Mondotte. Keeping our focus on Canon-la-Gaffelière, however, it is in the vineyard the serious work starts. It is planted with a slight predominance of Merlot (55%), with 40% Cabernet Franc, this variety said to be a strong determining factor in the character of the final wine, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, all planted at a density of 5500 vines/ha, and with an average age of 45 years. Stephan von Neipperg sees himself very much as a grower of grapes first, winemaker second, and to this effect many practices in the vineyard approach biodynamic methods, certainly organic, as von Neipperg breathes life back into his soil. Only low-nitrogen fertiliser is used, all the vineyard processes are manual, and there is some use of homeopathic biodynamic preparations. Yields are severely restricted. At harvest time the fruit passes over a sorting table before fermentation in temperature-controlled wooden tanks, which replaced the pre-existing steel ones from the 1997 vintage. There is pigeage of the cap and, notably, micro-oxygenation. The wine goes into oak barrels for up to 19 months, of which up to 100% are replaced each vintage, all under the watchful eyes of estate secretary Cécile Gardaix and winemaker Paul Pétrou, guided by Stéphane Derenoncourt, obviously. There is restrained use of sulphur, and in barrel the wines rest on their lees for much of the time. They may be racked just once, and interaction with the solids is encouraged with regular batonnage, another notable although not unique approach; there are one or two other high-flying, high-scoring St Emilion properties that have also adopted this rather Burgundian practice. The wines may see a very light fining and filtration. The grand vin that results is Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière (7500 cases per annum), and there is a second wine, the rather enticingly named Côte Mignon La Gaffelière. I have tasted a few vintages of the former, and found them on the whole to be brilliant. Recent vintages are said to have shown vast improvements, and my experience with the 2004, 2005 and 2006 would seem to support this assertion. Starting with the 2005, this wine is simply superb, unsurprisingly perhaps, as such a perfect vintage is bound to suit von Neipperg's approach in the vineyard to a tee. But what of the other vintages? The 1999 which I tasted in April 2006 was very unusual, and so far has been the only mote in this estate's eye. It was so unusual, however, that I can only imagine it was a problem with an individual bottle, of the wine simply wasn't showing well on the day. I have reserved judgement; I would love to hear from anyone with similar experience of this vintage. The 2004 on first tasting I thought tended towards the modern St Emilion disease, over-extraction, and again at that time I reserved judgement. I have reviewed it three times since then, giving it similar high scores each time; this is lovely wine, and I am sure the score will creep higher yet. The 2001 is similarly fine. And the 2006? It is a fine effort for the vintage. Overall, these are wines well worth buying and drinking, and this is something I could say of many other properties where Derenoncourt has a hand, as I have come to realise I rather admire the style he works towards. This has a lovely nose, full of pure and expressive fruit. It is very rich and forward. The palate is simply delicious, rich, concentrated and creamy. Underneath this voluptuous texture there is a bright, grippy, tannic backbone, and some very decent acidity.
The Château La Gaffelière vineyard enlarges upon 25 hectares and gazes its 22 hectares vineyard all-in-one parcel between the Ausone hill and the Pavie one. The whole favourably south oriented, receives an ideal sunshine which benefits to the 35 years old vine. Hillsides are clayey and calcareous, whereas hill-feet are more siliceous. The vineyard is planted with 80% of Merlot, 10% of Cabernet Franc and 10 % of Cabernet Sauvignon.
A strong and classic Saint Emilion Grand Cru. Great personality but quite sweet and not so tannic.
External Reviews for Clos la Gaffelière Red Bordeaux Blend St. Émilion Grand Cru
A subtle wine that impresses with displays of measured, incremental fruit, the 2000 offers sweet aromas of mocha, black cherries, cassis, and delicious toasty oak. Although light in the mouth, this ruby/purple-colored 2000 possesses wonderful expansi... Robert Parkers Wine Advocate. A Bordeaux Blend wine from Bordeaux in France. 2000 La Gaffeliere 750ml
Food Pairings for Clos la Gaffelière Red Bordeaux Blend St. Émilion Grand Cru
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