Today we have seen a series of releases from the Right Bank, most notably, two Saint Emilion Grand Crus, Gaffeliere and Sansonnet, both of which have received universal critical acclaim. Chateau La Gaffeliere produced another excellent wine following a particularly strong effort in 2015. Neal Martin has awarded it 92-94 points for the second year running and Suckling goes one better with an impressive 95-96 points, strong scores for a Right Bank wine priced at £540 per case of 12 or £270 per case of six. It has been released today at a 24% premium to the 2015 following a 12% euro increase, although it is noteworthy that the 2015 only represents a 10% discount having appreciated since release last year. This is a very good showing from the Estate and trades at a 37% discount to the average price of the 2005, 2009 and 2010. Suckling gives La Gaffeliere his highest score to date, preferring it to the 92-93 point 2010, which trades at £780.
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Nestled in the hills between Pavie and Ausone, Chateau la Gaffeliere can lay claim to be one of the oldest family owned Estates in St. Emilion. The property has roots digging back to the 11th Century, when it was a leper colony, its named derived from the old French word “gaffets”, for leper!. Thankfully, the modern winery has come a long way from such austere beginnings. The history of the Chateau’s vineyards began in the 17th Century with the Comte de Malet-Roquefort when it was known as La Gaffeliere Naudes, before the Estate was split in the 18th Century with a parcel of vines set up as the new Canon-La-Gaffeliere. The Estate rose to prominence over the 20th Century, classified as a ‘Premier Grand Cru Classe’ in 1959, before it was renamed La Gaffeliere two years later. It is also noteworthy that during the 1980s, Alexandre Theinpont, the owner of Vieux Chateau Certan, cut his teeth at Gaffeliere. In 2014 the Estate took its final, modern form, after Count Alexander de Malet-Roquefort expanded the family’s landholdings with 14 hectares from the Cassat family’s Chateau Mauzevin. On average, La Gaffeliere produces 4,000 cases per year.
Chateau La Gaffeliere 2016, 12×75 – £540 EP
92-94 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 La Gaffeliere has a reserved bouquet at first, one that gradually unfurls with quite intense black cherry and sloes, yet there seems to be a welcome restraint, a Saint Emilion that knows how important it was to not “push” the fruit too much. The palate is medium-bodied with very smooth and rounded tannin. The acidity here is nicely judged, and it feels very cohesive, with dark berry fruit mixed with a little cola and plenty of black pepper towards the satisfying finish. Maybe it would benefit from more on the aftertaste, but otherwise this is an excellent La Gaffelière, a château that is now beginning to deliver the goods.
95-96 Points, James Suckling
Dynamically and minerally young wine with blackberry and blueberry character. Full body. Firm tannins and a fresh finish. Shows structure and intensity. Focused and classy. Love the finish.
There was another significant release from St Emilion this morning which is also well worth consideration, Chateau Sansonnet. Sansonnet is an Estate on the rise, in 2016 it has received its best aggregated score ever with Martin awarding it 91-93 points, Galloni 93-96 and Suckling 94-95. The marked improvement in the Estate begun in 1999 when it was purchased by the family who previously owned Piper Heidsiek, they set out investing in infrastructure and employing some of the greatest winemaking consultants Bordeaux has ever seen. The current consultant, Michel Rolland needs no introduction and his input has allowed Sansonnet to maximise its terroir and catapulted its wines’ quality and reputation to the forefront of the appellation. Sansonnet released at £273 per case of 12 which is a 21.2% GBP increase over the 2015 release price, however, it represents an 18.5% discount to the 90 point scoring 2010 and a massive 45.4% discount to the 93 point 2009.
Chateau Sansonnet is located in the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation, just East of the St Emilion village. In the 19th Century the Estate was purchased by the Duke Decazes, Prime Minister of Louis XVIII. It later changed hands to the Robin Family in the early 1890s, and then was bought by the d’Aulan family, the former owners of the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne in 1999. It wasn’t until 2009 that the Estate was sold to the Lefevere family, who are the current owners today.
The 7.3 hectare vineyard is situated just next to Chateau TrotteVieille, Pavie Macquin and Troplong Mondot. The average vine planted is 35 years old, on a terroir of clay and limestone based soils. The vineyard comprises of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and in 2016, the blend is 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged in 70% new, French Oak barrels for 16 months. On average, the Estate produces 2,500 cases each vintage. Much of the press about this superb vintage has focused on the Left Bank, howeve the Right Bank must not be overlooked. St Emilion in particular has produced some stunning wines and Sansonnet, in particular, offers remarkable value at under £23 a bottle as well as a strong vintage premium.
Chateau Sansonnet 2016, 12×75 – £273 EP
91-93 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Sansonnet is a blend of 85% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon matured in 80% new oak. It has a very intense, quite floral bouquet with an exotic touch that fortunately is nicely contained. The palate is medium-bodied with that Cabernet imparting a little rigidity to the tannin and a touch of graphite, but with very fine structure and focus, plenty of freshness on the finish. This may well surpass the 2016.
94-95 Points, James Suckling
Dense and velvety-textured red with extremely attractive blackberry and stone character. Mineral and floral. This shows less extraction than in the past and delivers.
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