Good terroir and extremely low yields have enabled Stephan Von Neipperg’s St Emilion properties to turn in good performances in the challenging conditions that the 2013 vintage presented. There is gloss and plushness to the wines as well as attractive sap and freshness. They may not have the length or richness of the big years here but in the context they are impressive wines.
The properties are run along biodynamic lines and with the emphasis on close observation and pragmatic and flexible approaches in the vineyard. This outlook would seem to be a good fit with the [myriad] problems that the 2013 vintage presented!
Clos de L’Oratoire is a ten hectare Grand Cru Classé that neighbours Chateau Dassault on St Emilion’s north eastern border. As usual it’s turned in something pretty lush and seductive. There’s some oak that needs to settle on the palate but there is plenty of sweet fruit so it should come together nicely. Yields were low here [17hl/ha].
Château Canon-la-Gaffelière is a Premier Grand Cru Classé situated just to the south of the railroad tracks down from La Gaffelière on the road that takes you up to the town of St Emilion itself. The vineyards are on the southern foot of the slopes here. There’s more Cabernet Franc in the blend, [it represents 40% of the vineyard plantings], though it’s lower in 2013 at 25% with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the great majority [70%] Merlot. The wine nicely poised with attractive creamy fruit and is a very good effort. Tasted separately at the UGCB the wine was consistent but more compact. Really low yields this year [10hl/ha], though financially a headache for Von Neipperg, have helped him produce the best from what little 2013 had to offer.
La Mondotte comes from a small 4.5 hectare vineyard located on the eastern part of the Saint-Emilion plateau next to Troplong Mondot. It’s an early ripening terroir and the vines are 50 years old on average. It’s usually pretty lush and seductive and even 2013 doesn’t disappoint in this respect. Partly that’s the terroir but also partly due to the staggeringly low yields in 2013 [just 8hl/ha].
Clos de L’Oratoire, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé
Mid depth; purple edge; quite seductive aromatics; black fruits, some meat and spice; oak present on the palate; material and chew; sweet fruit; has all the elements. Good finish. Some chew and wood. [95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc 17hl/ha 55% new oak]. Drink 2018-2029. 87-89
Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated look; vibrant edge; legs; cake and spices, ripe and attractive in a lifted way; creamy entry; nice sap and flavour; plenty of material but not extracted or puckering; chew on the finish but has freshness. Length here. Very good effort. [70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% new oak]. Tasted Canon-La-Gaffelière. Drink 2018-2028. 89-91+ [earlier note] Deep and saturated look; vibrant purple at edge; some menthol, spice, pretty intense; sweet and round with black fruit tones; palate has some oak and glossy fruit but overall the palate has a slightly compact quality to it with a little hardness on the finish. Tasted April 2, 2014 UGC. 87-89
La Mondotte, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and saturated looking; vibrant earthy edge; quite fat and unctuous almost; layers of plush fruit; spices and fruitcake notes; some wet rock too; quite opulent palate; has delicacy and will mature nicely; good fruit and depth overall. Nice extraction. Incredibly low yields. Menthol on the finish. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc 8hl/ha, 100% new oak]. 91-93+