Time spent with Stephan von Neipperg is always time well spent. He is equally funny, charming and passionate about wine. Neipperg owns several other Right Bank vineyards including Clos de l’Oratoire and La Mondotte. He consults numerous properties in the same areas he has interests in.
He believes deeply in the management and care of his terroir. All the Neipperg Bordeaux wine estates practice sustainable viticulture and take a biodynamic approach. They never use herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides preferring a natural approach to vineyard management.
Neipperg, along with the assistance of Stephane Derenoncourt insists on low yields and ripe fruit. In an effort to further this goal, some of the steps taken are “second pruning’s” which are done early in the growing season. This also brings about a good lea to fruit ratio, which would not be anywhere near as good with bunch thinning according to Neipperg. He added, “Old vines and the proper care of poor soils lead to naturally low yields.” Pruning is done fairly severely (an average of 5-6 buds per vine) and the second pruning helps maintain production at the desired 35 hectolitres per hectare or less, depending on the4 vintage. Bunch thinning is used only as a last resort, in the rare instances. Vineyard management is done on a parcel by parcel basis.
These practices are used at all Neipperg’s estates to help achieve his goal of making the best wines of character and finesse possible.
Because of the large amount of Cabernet Franc used in Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere, it is not always the easiest wine to taste during the April tastings. With that in mind, I was happy for the chance at another look at Neipperg’s wines in July.
2010 Canon La Gaffeliere – With elements of fresh flowers, coffee, spice, blackberry, earth and plum in the perfume, this lush, round Bordeaux wine is filled with minerality and soft tannins. The wine will be aged in 70% new oak. 93-95 Pts
2009 Canon La Gaffeliere – Rich, concentrated and opulent in texture, the wine is filled with flowers, black and red berries, licorice, espresso bean, forest floor, smoke and crushed stone scents. Plush in texture, this sexy St. Emilion ends with a rich, fennel, blackberry jam and plum filled finish. 94 Pts
2010 La Mondotte – Dark color, this minerality based wine is complicated by scents of blackberry liqueur, flowers, spice and earth. With rich, plush textures and round tannins, this powerful, concentrated wine ends with layers of deep, spicy, black fruit and glycerin. I tasted this wine in April and later in July. According to the owner, Stephan von Neipperg, some vats of La Mondotte were not finished malolactic with fermentation by July! 97 Pts
2009 La Mondotte – Crushed stone, floral, blackberry, plum and spice in the nose. This powerful, full bodied, intense, packed and stacked St. Emilion wine is filled with juicy, ripe black raspberries, cherry, spice, minerality and plums. 97 Pts
2010 Clos de l’Oratoire – Licorice, stone, floral, earth and fresh blackberry scents work well with the round textures and the long, fresh, fennel and plummy liqueur finish. 91-93Pts
2009 Clos de l’Oratoire – Deep in color, the perfume is filled with licorice, coffee, blackberry, blueberries and smoke. Round and supple in texture, the wine finishes with dark cherries and blackberry jam.
2010 d’Aiguilhe – With a licorice, black cherry, smoke, spice and espresso bean nose, this supple ripe, spicy black raspberry jam filled wine is one of the top wines from the Cotes de Castillon appellation. 91-92 Pts
2009 d’Aiguilhe – Licorice, jammy berries, coffee and chocolate scents lead to a plush, round, sexy and already approachable wine. Net yields in 2009 were an amazing 8 hls/ha.