Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc Bordeaux, Complete Guide

cantemerle chateau

Learn everything about Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc, 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 Historical documents listing the Lords of Cantemerle of La Sauve Majeur Abbey, can be dated all the way back to the 12th century.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 in the Left Bank.

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 1570s, 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. It was quite a story at the time.

The short version is that until 1853, she sold all her own wine. So 1854 was the first vintage offered for sale by Negociants. She demanded they include Cantemerle in the classification, bringing 40 years of books proving her wine sold for as much, or more money than the other 1855 Fifth Growths!

That re-addition to the classification became the first of only two major 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 1800s, 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 over 50%, as many of the vines were dead and the vineyard needed replanting.

Chateau Cantemerle The Modern Era

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 Chateau Le Jurat, which are all located in the St. Emilion appellation.

Plans for a complete renovation of their cellars are currently being created.


Chateau Cantemerle Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking

The huge 108-hectare vineyard of Cantemerle has 92 hectares under vine, 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 1980s, 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 that 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 water tower, you find larger stones and gravel with sand.

As you head south, on the way to the city of Bordeaux, 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 the chateau, in the northwest direction where you find Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of their vines are in 2 communes, Macau and Ludon-Medoc.

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 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: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 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 Cantemerle offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 10-15 years of age after the vintage.

Serving 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 removing 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

29 Vintages 224,092 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating

2020 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 93

Dark, juicy cherries, bitter chocolate, savory herbs and a touch of espresso start the wine off. Medium-bodied, bright and energetic, with a lot of lift in the red fruits on the palate, this will age and develop nicely. 92-94 Pts

2,203 Views   Tasted
2019 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 92

Quite savory with a bouquet of herbs, wet earth, currants, spice and cocoa. Medium-bodied, soft, fresh, earthy, forward and earthy, give it a few years in the cellar before pulling the cork. Drink from 2024-2037. 92 Points

1,746 Views   Tasted

Fresh picked flowers, oak, wet earth, cassis and blackberry aromas start off the wine. Medium-bodied, with silky, soft, elegant textures, sweet, ripe, delicate fruits and a refined, fruit-filled finish. 92-94 Pts

4,573 Views   Tasted
2018 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 90

The mix of flowers, tobacco, and spicy red fruits on the nose deserves the attention it receives. On the palate, the wine is softly-textured, medium-bodied and forward, with a light, fresh, bright, red berry character that will drink relatively well on release. 90 Points

1,836 Views   Tasted

Ruby in color, flowery, and tobacco edged, the spicy red fruits come through nicely. Medium bodied, elegant and with freshness to the red fruits, this classically styled vintage should age well. 90-92 Pts

3,935 Views   Tasted
2017 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 92

Floral in nature, the fruit is ripe, crisp and even a bit sharp, but the tannins are soft and there is a lot of juicy, sweet fruit in the medium bodied, berry-filled finish. 92 Points

3,285 Views   Tasted
2016 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 93

Bright, crisp, fresh medium/full-bodied, juicy, pure and clean, the fruit offers the right balance between lift and sweetness. Give this 6-9 years and it is going to be great! 93 Points

6,037 Views   Tasted

Medium/full-bodied, fresh, crisp, aromatic and filled with sweet, bright, red cherries and juicy, crunchy cassis with just a hint of hint on the nose. I am sure this will age quite nicely. 93 Points

6,277 Views   Tasted

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. 93 Points

6,987 Views   Tasted
2015 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 93

Soft, refined, fresh and with ample, ripe, polished, cherry and plum notes, the wine has a beautiful floral essence, made even better with its silky tannins and vibrant, red fruit sensations in the finish. With age, this should fill out and become as good, or even better than the sublime 2010! 93 Points

6,781 Views   Tasted

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. 93 Points

8,855 Views   Tasted

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

9,953 Views   Tasted
2014 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 89

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. 89 Points

4,827 Views   Tasted

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

6,468 Views   Tasted
2013 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 87

Medium bodied, easy drinking, cherry filled charmer with soft, but quite fresh textures and a delicate finish. 87 Points

4,316 Views   Tasted

Light in color and fruit, this should be consumed young for the soft, bright sweet cherry in the middle. 86-88 Pts

2,062 Views   Tasted
2012 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 90

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. 90 Points

3,249 Views   Tasted

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

4,475 Views   Tasted
2011 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 89

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. 89 Points

4,296 Views   Tasted

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

5,421 Views   Tasted
2010 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 93

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. 93 Points

9,780 Views   Tasted

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. 92 Points

13,282 Views   Tasted
2009 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 92

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. 92 Points

5,643 Views   Tasted

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. 90 Points

13,498 Views   Tasted
2008 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 88

Forest floor, earth, cassis and cherry aromas lead into a medium bodied wine with a light, red fruit finish. 88 Points

8,856 Views   Tasted
2007 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 87

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. 87 Points

4,404 Views   Tasted
2006 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 90

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. 90 Points

6,012 Views   Tasted

Medium bodied, soft, focused on fresh, bright red fruits, spice and tobacco notes, this lighter style of Bordeaux is already easy to drink. 89 Points

4,383 Views   Tasted
2005 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 90

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. 90 Points

10,452 Views   Tasted
2004 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 84

Light, bright and finishing with green olive, crisp red fruits and cranberry. This needs to be consumed sooner than later. 84 Points

2,991 Views   Tasted
2003 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 89

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. 89 Points

3,424 Views   Tasted
2001 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 88

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. 88 Points

3,006 Views   Tasted
2000 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 89

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. 89 Points

6,561 Views   Tasted
1996 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 85

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. 85 Points

4,786 Views   Tasted
1995 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 86

Hanging on, but without a lot to hand on to, the light to medium-bodied red berry-filled wine offers an herb, dried flower, peppery spice profile with a crispness to the fruit and the tannins. 86 Points

1,839 Views   Tasted
1990 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 90

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. 90 Points

3,438 Views   Tasted
1989 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 89

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. 89 Points

6,569 Views   Tasted

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. 89 Points

3,933 Views   Tasted
1983 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 91

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? 91 Points

3,826 Views   Tasted
1955 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 85

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. 85 Points

1,933 Views   Tasted
1952 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 78

One of those bottles I have no idea how, or when I got it. Light, red in color, the nose initially offered strong floral, tobacco and red cherry notes. Light on the palate, this would be a dead ringer for an older, fading Burgundy with its bright, tart cherry fruits. The first 10 minutes offered the most fun, as the wine quickly faded after that. 78 Points

1,592 Views   Tasted

Earthy, tea, tobacco and sharp red fruits on the nose and palate. Light in body, and not holding much interest, this should have been consumed at least 2 decades ago. 80 Points

1,822 Views   Tasted
1945 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 90

Tobacco, earth, cranberry, forest floor and spicy notes lead to a medium bodied, soft, round, sweet, cherry, strawberry and balsamic filled wine. 90 Points

3,285 Views   Tasted
1938 Château Cantemerle  (Haut-Médoc) 75

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. 75 Points

1,195 Views   Tasted