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Bordeaux 2023: Château Canon-La-Gaffelière, La Mondotte et al

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Stephan von Neipperg has a great set of properties on the right bank. The reputation is based very much on what he has achieved over the past forty years at Château Canon-La-Gaffelière as well as the epic heights that the tiny La Mondotte vineyard can surmount. I’m a fan of their St Emilion Cru Classé Clos de l’Oratoire which has improved significantly in the last decade. The wine I can afford to drink most often at home is their over-achieving Château d’Aiguilhe in Castillon. The 2016 is currently drinking spectacularly well. The Neippergs also own Clos Marsalette in Pessac Léognan, which produces good value red and white wines. So how did the Neipperg stable of wines fair here in the 2023 vintage?

The emphasis in the glass seemed to be on freshness and structure. There is not the plushness that the 2022s here displayed this time last year but that is also in keeping with the character of the 2023 vintage tasted elsewhere. I expect all the wines tasted to fill out considerably during élevage and that is often the case with the wines here. The 2016s were very tight when tasted early on but have blossomed in bottle. Interestingly I was struck this year more than ever by the quality of their white wines, and not just at Clos Marsalette, but particularly at Château d’Aiguilhe. The white 2023 was a racy beauty.

The following wines were tasted on April 19, 2024 at Château Canon-La-Gaffelière. I hope you find the notes useful.

Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Léognan, 2023

Deep and dark; purple edge; earthy edge; some molasses; lots of fruits; spicy; some texture in the middle; earthy and spicy; nice; nice texture and grip on the finish. Punctuation – back bone. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 25% new oak, 45 hl/ha, harvested 12-22 September, 13.5% alc]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2027-2035. 87-89+

Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Léognan, 2023

Silver and green; quite brilliant looking; lots of candy; some soap; lots of lanolin; texture; quite racy. Good stuff. [56% Sauvignon Blanc, 44% Sémillon, 20% new oak, 12.5% alc yields 56hl/ha harvested 1-3 September.]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2024-2028. 88-90

Château d’Aiguilhe, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux, 2023

Deep colour; spice and schist; tightly woven on the palate but I quite like this. Sappy and refreshing. Will put on weight during élevage. No second wine Seigneurs d’Aiguilhe this year [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 30hl/ha, 20% new oak, remainder in foudre and tanks. 14% alc]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2028-2035. 89-91+

Le Blanc d’Aiguilhe, Bordeaux Blanc, 2023

Green and brilliant; steely; salty and saline notes; nice palate; racy; really lively and crisp; really fresh. Excellent. Best white here yet from my experience of tasting the white here. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 28 hl/ha, 13% alc, harvested 28 August to 4 September, bottled in March, 2024. Sauvignon accounts for 5ha in the d’Aiguilhe vineyard, making just 8000 bottles in 2023]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2024-2030. 91-93

Clos de l’Oratoire, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep, earthy looking; spices and notes of freshly sawn wood on the nose [the 25% Cabernet Franc in the blend]; little tighter on the palate than usual; needs to open up; tight and spicy with good sap and structure; fresh with some chew on the end but this works. Again, this should put on weight during élevage but not as plush as 2022 here. Chalk and cheese in that regard. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, certified organic; 30% new oak, 13.5% alc, 44hl/ha. Harvested 21-25 September, 2023]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2029-2038. 89-91

Château Canon La Gaffelière, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Mid depth; earthy; again quite tight and serious, freshly sawn wood notes and spicy plum tones, textured on the palate and there is some pretty fruit here with violet notes; fresh and vibrant; soft and supple fruit in the nice middle; good length and texture. The Cabernets [Franc and Sauvignon] dominate here currently. Again, this should fill out further during élevage. [45% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% new oak, 13% alc, certified organic, harvested 20-29 September]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2030-2045. 93-95

La Mondotte, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep looking; full and plump; opens up; nicely layered fruit which unfurls; structure beneath the plush fruit; some mineral and schist with that wet limestone rock; tight on the finish but plenty of intensity. From a 4ha south facing vineyard on the limestone plateau with some of the old blocs dating back to ’37. Ludovic Neipperg believes the ‘23 has more structure than ’19 with more concentration. Overall, this felt much less of a show stopper than the 2022 but it will definitely flesh out further during élevage. [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 40% new oak, 37hl/ha, harvest 19-30 September, 13.5% alc]. Tasted April 2024. Drink 2023-2045. 94-96+

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