Wine Words & Video Tape

Wine, Words and Videotape

Fine Wine Review site

Château Pontet-Canet


Address: 33250 Pauillac

Telephone: +33 (0)5 56 59 04 04



Château Pontet-Canet is one of the largest of the classed growths. The 1929 had a legendary reputation but the estate languished in the 1960s and 1970s and it was only when Guy Tesseron from Cognac bought the chateau in 1975 that things improved. It’s been a long and steady upward curve with a step change since the 1994 vintage. Now Guy’s son Alfred Tesseron is at the helm and he has overseen the production of fantastic wines here, culminating recently in the 2005, 2009 and 2010 – all truly exceptional wines. Pontet-Canet has also produced some of the finest wine in the Médoc in 2011 and 2012, two distinctly tricky vintages. Methods are now fully biodynamic and part of the vineyard is worked by horses. The overall aim is for holistic balance in the vineyard and sensitive techniques are used in the cellar. This estate is now clearly a modern day first growth. And why not? Pontet-Canet’s terrior literally across the road from Château Mouton-Rothschild. Yet the overall impression to my mind, both in the wines and the approach, is of something much more Burgundian here. 

Vineyard/Terroir: 80 hectares on quaternary gravel on a clay limestone subsoil. Planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.

Winemaking/Elévage: Completely new vat room in 2005, gravity fed which allows for the vinification of smaller volumes and individual parcels. Aged in new oak, 60% of which is new each vintage.

Tasting notes:

  • 2016 Deep and healthy looking; beautiful cassis aromatics; sings from the glass; real purity; lift from the Cabernet Franc; excellent; unadorned and attractive; soft entry but with blackcurrant cassis tones; real roundness and harmony; lovely texture; vibrant on the palate; deep. Wonderful stuff. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 55% new oak, 35% concrete and 10% one year old oak]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2024-2040. 97-100
  • 2015 Beautiful colour; deep core; purple edge; ripe and very plush; deep and seductive; some mineral notes; little spice at the back; nice entry; plenty of fruit; blackcurrant; very pure; supple on the mouth; nice extract; very digestible; nice fruit and texture on the finish; very fine tannins; good length. Very well balanced and harmonious. Excellent length. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot, 33hl yield, 95% of the crop in the grand vin, 50% new oak, 35% eggs, 15% one year barrels]. Drink 2024-2040. Tasted April ’16. 94-96+
  • 2014 Deep bold colour; saturated; tight to the rim; healthy look; cassis; blackcurrant notes; ripe and full; little menthol and spice; round, full and generous on the palate; another Burgundian rendition of Pauillac here; lovely texture; creamy fruit; nicely fresh; very round and generous overall; supple quality to the tannins. Slips down a treat. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2020-2035. Tasted 2, April, 2015 at Pontet-Canet. 93-95+
  • 2013 Deep and earthy purple; attractive fruit; ripe; red fruits; caressing quality to the palate; very pure and Burgundian in style; what it lacks in depth it makes up for in delicacy; good length at the end. Sincere wine. Yields astonishingly low – crop half the normal in 2013. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 50% new oak, 15hl/ha]. Drink 2018-2030. 90-92+
  • 2012 Deep colour; very healthy looking; saturated blackcurrant aromas; cassis; little lift from the oak; black cherry notes too; very attractive and open; reminiscent of their 2011 [one of the red wines of the vintage for me last year]; lots of depth to the palate; real blackcurrant purity; clean and precise on the finish with freshness. Not overdone in the slightest. Excellent length. Tasted at Chateau Pontet-Canet April, 12, 2013. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 93-95+
  • 2011 Deep and earthy; purple at edge; wonderfully vibrant, joyous aroma of blackcurrants and cassis; totally pure and ripe – easily the most precocious and vibrant aroma of any left bank wine tasted; very gentle entry; soft and harmonious palate; blackcurrant flavours; lovely and fresh. Beautifully balance vibrant wine without a trace of bitterness to the tannin. Easily as good as all the first growths and the only dead cert I have in my en primeur list. That makes it wine of the vintage in my book. A testament to the efforts, biodynamic and otherwise, of Alfred Tesseron et al . A beauty. Tasted at Pontet-Canet 6/4/12. 95-97 
  • 2010 Deep and saturated looking; some cream; lush blackcurrant and cassis tones; sturdy and strong; blackcurrants again on the palate; full and pure; sizeable palate very nicely textured; spices with some chew to the tannins; structured; plenty of fruit here though perhaps a little shut down [compared with Pichon Longueville say]; loads of intensely packed fruit but slumbering at present. Intense. Long finish. Drink 2020-2040. 96+ MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Deep and very dense saturated look; ripe, attractive nose; quite forthcoming; blackcurrants, fresh, some coffee, creamy and layered; very ripe and attractive palate; very well balanced and harmonious; terrific balance; quite fine tannins, extraction managed perfectly. Caresses the palate, clean and fresh. Almost easy. Brilliant wine. 95-97+/100 Tasted 5April 2011 at the chateau
  • 2009 Deep and saturated; lots of blackcurrant cassis on the nose; intense; some resin; graphite too; very strong and espresso-thick in consistency; blackcurrants and cassis again on the palate; wonderful purity here; ripe and round and more harmonious on the palate than the Pichons and Lynch Bages. Grip and lots of density. Simply wonderful fruit and balanced perfectly overall. Terrific length. A towering achievement. Drink 2019-2040 100 MW Institute Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Very dense, saturated colour; blackcurrant cassis on the nose; wonderful purity and richness; concentration and precision; very ripe fruits too; palate fat and concentrated; lots of density and concentration with real power. Tannins but not dry just very ripe. Great density, purity and length. I’d love to see this blind alongside Mouton. Terrific wine in a terrific vintage. 96+/100 Nov ’10 at the chateau
  • 2008 Deep and intense looking; graphite; blackcurrants; lift; menthol; attractive aromatics; palate developing nicely; some secondary characters but also ripe blackcurrants; really caressing palate; plenty of fruit and now hitting its stride; tannin softened. Developing really well. Drink now-2025. 94+ Tasted Pontet-Canet April 2015 [Earlier note] Mid depth; mealy note; some lift; chocolate tones; palate has some polish; little subdued; grip and acid so has brightness on palate; little disappointing showing though. Second tasting: inky note, some blackcurrant, meal and intensity; chewy and dense palate. Tannic and chewy – definitely long term. 91+ MW Institute Nov ‘12
  • 2007 Deep and dark; red at edge; very inky, intense and resinous nose; meaty tones and cassis along with a creamy character; big, bold explosion on the palate, minerality, blackcurrants and herbal tones; chewy and dense. I prefer Pichon-Longueville in ’07 but this is a very good effort too. 92+/100 MW Institute Nov ’11 [Earlier note] 2007 Mid-red; lots of resin here plus strawberries; not as evolved or aromatic as Pichon Baron in 2007; palate roses with tannin and acid. Mid palate in need of filling out but early days. Good intensity. Tannic. Long-haul wine here. 86/100 Oct ’09 UGC London tastings.
  • 2006 Deep black, very dense and tight to the rim, black at centre; very intense blackcurrants, oak resin, very pent up, lots of oak here too; just starting to budge; bit new world feel; palate polished with good entry; firm, structure and acid; tannins a bit dry; lacks flesh. Quite chewy tannins, and big structure. Feels a bit dry on the finish. Needs time. Firm, structured wine, not fleshy or opulent. 90-92/100 MW Institute Nov ‘10
  • 2005 saturated black; cassis, minerals, very intense and concentrated with lots and lots of ripe tannin. This is quite a blockbuster. A first growth pretender in this vintage. Exceptional length. 95+/100 June ’09
  • 2003 Dark looking, red at edge; blackcurrants, some toffee and spice; soft and quite silky blackcurrant tones; ripe and full; good length; a fully mature 2003 – no hint of over-ripeness here. 93/100 April 2012
  • 2002 Red black; clean and precise Cabernet aromas, blackcurrant; some lead pencil and graphite tones; layered palate and nicely open; round. This is a considerable success. 92/100 April 2013
  • 2000 Deep and tight to the rim; lovel aromatics; lead pencils, graphite; blackcurrants and spices; just showing mature; real depth; graphite and blackcurrant characters on the palate with a roundness that is extremely appealing; very well-balanced palate; opens up wonderfully in the glass; this still has twenty years ahead of it; excellent length. Tasted Pontet-Canet April 2014. 97/100

017Alfred Tesseron, Pontet-Canet’s warm hearted and philosophical owner


Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow Us