Learn everything about Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc, Bordeaux Fifth Growth, producer with wine tasting notes and wine with food pairing tips. Learn all the best vintages, a history of the property, information on the vineyards and winemaking. If you want to read about other important, Bordeaux Chateaux: Links to all Bordeaux Wine Producer Profiles
Chateau Cantemerle History, Overview
Chateau Cantemerle is the second of the first well known Bordeaux estates you see as start the drive along the D2, as you head towards the Medoc, just after Chateau La Lagune. Chateau Cantemerle is also one of the oldest properties in the Bordeaux wine region. Historical documents listing the Lords of Cantemerle of La Sauve Majeur Abbey, can be dated all the way back to the 12th century. The documents exist thanks to the monks who recorded any business that transpired in the monastic community. The estate took its name from the Lords of Cantemerle. Although it did not begin to go under that name until 1340, when Ponset de Cantemerle changed the name of the estate. Ponset de Cantemerle was the first person to cultivate the vineyards. This was a big step, because in those days, most of the land was used for planting wheat. By the 16th century, Chateau Cantemerle was devoted to the production of wine.
In 1845, Pierre Chadeuil, the new owner of Chateau Pibran, a neighboring vineyard Pauillac, began to label his wines Chadeuil Cantemerle Chateau Pibran. He stated Cantemerle had been associated not only with the private estate of the Villeneuve family, but also with all the lands surrounding it. Because of that, he was fully justified in incorporating Cantemerle into the name of his Bordeaux wine. The logic was, it represented a region of origin, and not a family name. However, the owner of Cantemerle, Madame Villeneuve-Durfort did not agree. Producing documents from the 1570’s, when the Villeneuve family had acquired the estate, she proved that Chadeuil’s claims were false and that Chadeuil was forced to pay damages and for the cost of the trial. He was also forced to change the name of his wine. It is a good thing that Madame Villeneuve-Durfort was a feisty owner.
In 1855, when the classification of the Medoc took place, Chateau Cantemerle was accidentally left off the list of the classed chateaux. It was at the continued insistence of Madame Villeneuve-Durfort, that her property, Chateau Cantemerle be reinstated in the classification. That re-addition became the first of only two changes in the classification. If the name Durfort seems familiar, that is because they also owned Chateau Durfort Vivens in the Margaux appellation.
Until the late 1800’s, the fortunes of Chateau Cantemerle could not have been any better. What happened next devastated the property. Cantemerle was not only the worst hit of all the Medoc classified growths during the phylloxera crisis, but the vines were subsequently attacked by downy mildew between 1879 and 1887. Consequently, the annual production of Chateau Cantemerle was slashed by 50%, as many of the vines were dead and the vineyard needed replanting.
In 1892, the descendants of the last of the Villeneuve family, Jeanne Armande, Baroness Charles d’Abbadie, sold Chateau Cantemerle to the Dubos family after owning the estate for over three hundred years. The last family owner, Bertrand Clauzel sold Chateau Cantemerle in 1981 to the SMABTP group.
At the time of the purchase, Chateau Cantemerle was in serious need of restoration. 40 hectares of vines, close to 50% of the estate needed replanting. In 1999, the new owners purchased 20 hectares of vines from Domaine du Moines Nexon, increasing the size of the Chateau Cantemerle. Other improvements were made in the cellars and the winemaking facilities. The SMABTP Group has continued increasing their holdings in Bordeaux with purchases in the Right Bank too. They recently added Chateau Haut Corbin, Chateau Grand Corbin and Le Jurat, which are all located in the St. Emilion appellation.
Chateau Cantemerle Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking
The 108 hectare Left Bank vineyard of Cantemerle has 92 hectares under vine. The vineyard is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. There have been two shifts most recently in the vineyards. The amount of Cabernet Sauvignon has been increased, while the Merlot has been decreased by 5% each. However, that is not the most drastic change to their vineyards. Until the late 1980’s, the vineyards of Chateau Cantemerle were planted with 24% Cabernet Franc! It was on the advice of Philippe Dambrine, the managing director of the estate until 2013, that the Cabernet Franc be reduced. It is the goal of the estate to continue increasing the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in their vineyards over time. On average, the vines are close to 30 years of age. They have old Cabernet vines, which are close to 70 years of age.
The vineyard is planted to a vine density ranges from 8,400 vines per hectare to 10,000 vines per hectare. Interestingly, here, the younger vineyards are at the lower level of vine density, as the vines are being replaced, they are done at the 8,400 vines per hectare.
The terroir is mostly sand and gravel soils. The vineyard can be divided into 3 sections. Close to the chateau, you find soils with pebbles, small rocks, and dark, or black sand. To the east, close to the watertower, you find larger stones and gravel with sand. As you head south, on the way to the city, there you find more small rocks with white sand. All 4 grape varieties are planted in each vineyard. You can further subdivide this into 56 separate parcels. The estate’s best terroir is located close to chateau, in the northwest direction where you find Cabernet Sauvignon.
To produce the wine of Chateau Cantemerle, vinification takes place in a combination of 24 conical, shaped wood vats, 10 stainless steel tanks and 7 cement vats. The tanks vary in size from 100 hectoliters to 180 hectoliters for the wood vats, the cement and steel tanks are larger. Malolactic fermentation takes place in vat. The young vines are always vinified in the stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in 40% to 50% new French oak barrels for between 12 to 16 months, depending on the vintage. There is a second wine, Les Allees de Cantemerle. The average annual production of Chateau Cantemerle is about 25,000 cases per year.
The best vintages of Chateau Cantemerle are: 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2000, 1989, 1983 and 1953.
Chateau Cantemerle is a medium bodied, light, fresh, elegantly styled, charming Bordeaux wine that drinks well young and is usually best enjoyed during the first two decades of life, even in the best vintages. Cantemerle remains one of the top values among the Classified Growths. It’s an estate you can count on to produce elegant, character driven wines at a fair price.
When to Drink Chateau Cantemerle, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time
Chateau Cantemerle needs some time before it can be enjoyed. Young vintages can be decanted for an average of 1-3 hours, give or take. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Chateau Cantemerle is usually better with at least 7-10 years of bottle age. Of course that can vary slightly, depending on the vintage character. Chateau Belgrave offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 10-15 years of age after the vintage.
Serving and Decanting Chateau Cantemerle with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips
Chateau Cantemerle is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Older vintages might also need decanting, for both aerating and to remove the sediment. The wine of Chateau Cantemerle is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau Cantemerle is a perfect match with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms and pasta as well as cheese.
Château Cantemerle Wine Tasting Notes
23 Vintages 125265 Views Sort Vintage Rating
Black raspberry, earth and floral scents are the start to this medium/full-bodied, fresh, crisp, aromatic wine. The tannins are ripe, leaving you with the sensation of crunchy cassis in the long finish. Produced from blending 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, the wine reached 12.95% alcohol with a pH of 3.8. The harvest took place from September 22 to October 17 and the wine is aging in 40% new, French oak barrels.
Apr 29, 2017points - Tasted 2179 Views
Developing nicely. Its floral character remains out in front before you find the soft textured, ripe, sweet, black and red berries. Soft, bright and gentle in texture, this will be one of the top vintages for Cantemerle.
Jul 12, 2017points - Tasted 3062 Views
Floral scents are the first thing you notice, before moving to the ripe, sweet, earthy red and black fruits, shot of espresso and soft, silky, smooth, elegant textures. The finish is fresh and sweet and vibrant. The wine was made from a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. 92 - 94 Pts
Apr 26, 2016points - Tasted 5407 Views
Medium bodied, fresh, soft, forward, spicy, kirsch, smoke and floral charmer that already drinks well. With luck, cellaring could add a touch more weight to the wine.
Jan 31, 2017points - Tasted 3169 Views
Opening with sweet, ripe aromas of flowers, black and red fruits, espresso and earth, the wine offers silky tannins, notes of sweet, ripe dark red fruits with a soft, forward edge to the finish. 90-92 Pts
Apr 21, 2015points - Tasted 4908 Views
Medium bodied, easy drinking, cherry filled charmer with soft, but quite fresh textures and a delicate finish.
Feb 7, 2016points - Tasted 3173 Views
Light in color and fruit, this should be consumed young for the soft, bright sweet cherry in the middle. 86-88 Pts
Apr 23, 2014points - Tasted 1521 Views
Medium bodied, soft, fresh, elegant and easy to drink, this blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc finishes with fresh, earthy cherries and finesse textures.
Mar 11, 2015points - Tasted 2062 Views
Offering sweet, soft and ripe dark berries, this wine is fresh and ample with black cherry notes in an elegant style. This remains one of the best Bordeaux value wines in the market today, especially since its a classified growth. 88-90 Pts
Apr 23, 2013points - Tasted 3333 Views
Light, elegant, refined red fruits, spice, earth and espresso tones opened to a soft, approachable, easy to drink blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. This is not going to make old bones. I'd drink this in its youth.
Feb 16, 2014points - Tasted 3512 Views
Blending 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the wine will be aged in 50% new oak. Earthy, cherry notes, medium bodied with a light, red berry finish. 88-90 Pts
Apr 8, 2012points - Tasted 4649 Views
Wet forest and truffle notes with tobacco, cedar and cassis create the nose. On the palate, the wine consists of vibrant, black raspberries, cherries and spicy cassis. Still young, this classically built wine wants at least 5-7 more years in the cellar.
Mar 21, 2017points - Tasted 4988 Views
Floral in character, with loads of fresh black raspberries, dark cherries, espresso bean and earth on the nose. Medium bodied, elegant, clean and fresh, the wine ends with sweet, ripe, dark red fruits. This will be better with another 4-5 years of bottle age.
Dec 31, 2015points - Tasted 9571 Views
Truffles and plums get things started. Combining classic styling, ripe, round, sweet fruits and soft tannins, the wine gets going on the palate, but lacks the length and consistency found in its younger brother, the 2010.
Mar 21, 2017points - Tasted 2539 Views
Medium bodied, with light, black raspberry, cherry and spicy flavors, this soft, lighter style of Bordeaux wine ends with cherry and fresh herb sensations. This should drink well young.
Feb 6, 2012points - Tasted 11033 Views
Forest floor, earth, cassis and cherry aromas lead into a medium bodied wine with a light, red fruit finish.
Jan 23, 2011points - Tasted 8062 Views
Looking older than its chronicle age, the wine is fully developed. Medium bodied, soft, and with fruit showing the patina of age, there is a hint of tart and green in the end notes, that takes away from the otherwise, simple, but charming, forward finish. This requires consumption to preserve the remaining fruits.
Mar 21, 2017points - Tasted 1734 Views
Medium bodied, elegant, fresh styled wine that delivers more on the floral, fruity, earthy, spice and cherry scented nose than on the lighter, charming, elegant palate.
May 25, 2016points - Tasted 4726 Views
Medium bodied, soft, focused on fresh, bright red fruits, spice and tobacco notes, this lighter style of Bordeaux is already easy to drink.
Feb 13, 2014points - Tasted 3181 Views
With a delicate aroma of flowers, black raspberries, spice and earth, this medium bodied wine is pure elegance. Soft, refined and not for tasters that seek out ripe, powerful wines. This is my favorite vintage of Cantemerle since 1989. This is not a wine that needs a lot of cellaring time. Give it another 2-3 years and drink it up before it hits 20, to enjoy its delicate charms.
Aug 1, 2011points - Tasted 9331 Views
Light, bright and finishing with green olive, crisp red fruits and cranberry. This needs to be consumed sooner than later.
Jan 4, 2015points - Tasted 2311 Views
Fully mature, the wine is pure elegant charm. The medium bodied, sweet cherry, tobacco, earth and floral notes are showing at their best. This is not a wine for long term cellaring.
Oct 25, 2014points - Tasted 2711 Views
Nice style of refined, elegance, with sweet, bright, fresh cherry blossoms at its core. But it lacks the weight and substance needed to make it a really interesting experience.
Oct 23, 2016points - Tasted 2336 Views
Sweet tobacco, cherries and earthy scents are found in the nose. On the palate, this is a lighter, medium bodied style of wine with soft, refined textures. The finish offers sweet and tart, bright red fruits. There is not much reason to age this wine any longer. Drink up.
Jan 19, 2013points - Tasted 5443 Views
Fully mature, with more secondary characteristics than fruit, you find more tobacco, cigar box, herbs, earth and forest floor here. It takes some effort to located the spicy, red berries in this medium bodied, effort. Drink up as this is not going to improve.
Jan 20, 2017points - Tasted 3176 Views
Medium bodied, elegant, fresh and floral, with a sweet, red cherry and plum core of fruit, the is a refined, freshness to the bright, almost crisp, earthy fruits in the finish. Fully mature, this requires drinking.
May 10, 2017points - Tasted 1785 Views
With aromas of blackberry, currant, and oak, and with floral scents. Medium bodied. Soft and light on the palate. It’s at the end of its life. Nice, but not very interesting. A luncheon claret. The 83 is a better wine.
Jun 20, 2009points - Tasted 5417 Views
Typical Cordier funk aromas with blackberry, currant, oak & floral notes. Light/medium bodied ends with red and black fruit. Not very interesting. A luncheon claret.
Oct 5, 2004points - Tasted 2764 Views
Light ruby with brown edges. Tobacco, olives, plums, black fruit, coffee and smoke on the nose. Medium bodied, very pleasant, elegant, mouth feel. This really proves how great 83 was in Margaux. This shows no signs of fading and if well stored, will easily last another decade. Except for the 89, why hasn't Cantemerle produced wines of this caliber again?
Aug 29, 2009points - Tasted 2967 Views
Light to medium bodied, fresh, with a slant to the crisp, red fruit and forest side of the style range. Not overly complex, but charming and easy to drink.
May 30, 2017points - Tasted 1110 Views
Tobacco, earth, cranberry, forest floor and spicy notes lead to a medium bodied, soft, round, sweet, cherry, strawberry and balsamic filled wine.
Mar 29, 2012points - Tasted 2594 Views
Still alive and kicking, but don't expected the kicks to be hard or swift. Light in color and in fruit, this delicate wine offers a bright, crisp, fresh, herbal, cherry note. Certainly drinkable, especially when you consider its advanced age. But not a wine to purchase, unless you need a birth year wine.
Apr 30, 2017points - Tasted 511 Views