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Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere 2003

Bordeaux Red Blends from St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
  • RP89
13% ABV
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13% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Remarkably well-structured, always elegant, and unfailingly long on the palate, Château Canon La Gaffelière eloquently illustrates Stephan von Neipperg's new orientation.

A rather "intellectual" wine with a great deal of finesse that is relatively open even in its youth... There is always a floral side to enhance its fruitiness, with hints of forest floor. A great pleasure on both the nose and the palate. Fine and delicate.

Blending: 45% Merlot; 50% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 89
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
One of St.-Emilion’s most consistently high quality estates, particularly since the late 1980s, this 50-acre estate is situated on clay and limestone soils in the appellation’s southern sector. The vineyard consists of 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Performing slightly better from bottle than it did from cask, the 2003 is a soft, relatively evolved style of wine. Up-front and forward, with a complex, perfumed (smoke, incense, fruitcake) style, it offers creme de cassis, cherry, plum, fig, incense, and cedar characteristics on the palate. The round, opulent attack quickly fades in the finish. Nevertheless, it possesses plenty of appeal, and is the most accessible Canon-La-Gaffeliere I have tasted. Drink it over the next decade.
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Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere

Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere

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Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
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Located on the famous slope (and the foot of the slope) south of the medieval village of Saint-Emilion, Château Canon La Gaffelière has belonged to the Counts von Neipperg since 1971. Representing some eight centuries of family winegrowing tradition, Count Stephan von Neipperg has succeeded in placing Château Canon La Gaffelière among the top Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion thanks to a winegrowing philosophy that gives priority not only to quality, but also respect for the environment.

Château Canon La Gaffelière is located on the outskirts of the medieval town of Saint-Emilion, at the southern foot of the slope. The 19.5 hectare (48 acres) vineyard has a complex, outstanding terroir of clay-limestone and clay-sand soil. The topsoil is primarily sandy, increasingly so as one moves away from the slope. The unusual proportion of grape varieties (55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) at Canon-La-Gaffelière is perfectly suited to the soil.

St. Emilion

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Marked by its historic fortified village—perhaps the prettiest in all of Bordeaux, the St-Émilion appellation, along with its neighboring village of Pomerol, are leaders in quality on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. These Merlot-dominant red wines (complemented by various amounts of Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon) remain some of the most admired and collected wines of the world.

St-Émilion has the longest history in wine production in Bordeaux—longer than the Left Bank—dating back to an 8th century monk named Saint Émilion who became a hermit in one of the many limestone caves scattered throughout the area.

Today St-Émilion is made up of hundreds of independent farmers dedicated to the same thing: growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and tiny amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon). While always roughly the same blend, the wines of St-Émilion vary considerably depending on the soil upon which they are grown—and the soils do vary considerably throughout the region.

The chateaux with the highest classification (Premier Grand Cru Classés) are on gravel-rich soils or steep, clay-limestone hillsides. There are only four given the highest rank, called Premier Grand Cru Classés A (Chateau Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Angélus, Pavie) and 14 are Premier Grand Cru Classés B. Much of the rest of the vineyards in the appellation are on flatter land where the soils are a mix of gravel, sand and alluvial matter.

Great wines from St-Émilion will be deep in color, and might have characteristics of blackberry liqueur, black raspberry, licorice, chocolate, grilled meat, earth or truffles. They will be bold, layered and lush.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

WWH102126_2003 Item# 101432