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May 12, 2015

Pontet Canet and Les Hauts de Pontet Canet 2014

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Late this afternoon sees the exciting release of Pontet Canet 2014 at £54 per bottle. This reflects a 4% decrease on last year’s ex-London open, a 6% decrease on 2012 and a 8.7% discount on 2011. It is also instructive to compare the 2014 release price to the average price of the last ten vintages, which stands today at £775; as such today’s release offers a 16% discount on this.

Pontet Canet have made a excellent wine again in 2014, as it perennially does, one that Antonio Galloni scores a 93-96+ and describes as, ‘This is without question one of the highlights of the vintage.’ This makes it one of his wines of the vintage, echoed by James Suckling (JS) who scores it 95-96. Neal Martin, has given it his generic 93-95 putting it on par with all his leading wines.

Pontet Canet is now a darling of the US, Europe and Asia and one of the best performing left bank wines over the last four years, scoring 100 points in 2009 and 2010. Their 100% biodynamic wine-making techniques and fastidious focus has lead Pontet Canet to be First Growth quality, in fact it is located high on the illustrious, elevated real-estate sandwiched between Lafite and Mouton Rothschild. Pontet Canet 2014 is a wine to own and it is one of Robert Parker’s favourite Estates, sure to receive a superb re-score from him in two years’ time. This is the best Pontet Canet since 2009 and 2010, yet less than half the price.

TABLE

Pontet Canet History
Château Pontet Canet was put together by Jean-François Pontet, a powerful political figure, in the 1720s and 1730s. The property passed to Pierre-Bernard de Pontet and the reputation of the wines produced flourished until his death in 1836. This moment marked a decline in the standard and price of the wine, which in turn, led to Pontet Canet being rated a Fifth Growth rather than  higher classification.

The property was purchased in 1865 by Herman Cruse and promptly installed the 23 year old Charles Skawinski, son of the owner Château Giscours, to manage the property. Cruse invested heavily in the property including building a new chai, a new cuvier and constructing one of the few large underground cellars in the Médoc. The standard of the wines increased dramatically, often fetching as much as 3rd Growths wines or even occasionally 2nd Growths.

After the death of Cruse’s widow, the Cruse firm in Bordeaux ran the Château until a crisis forced its sale in 1975. Guy Tesseron purchased the Estate and it is now owned by his two sons, Alfred and Gérard, meaning that only three families have owned the property during its illustrious history.

Pontet Canet under the influence of Alfred has embraced organic winemaking techniques and was the first Château to earn the official Agence Bio (AB) organic certificate. These techniques, coupled with the challenging gravel soil perfect for growing the grapes has made this into a wine that exceeds its Fifth Growth status and is unquestionably one of the leading Super Seconds.

Pontet Canet 2014, 12×75 – £648 or 6×75 – £324 EP
Antonio Galloni, Vinous media, 93-96+
Deep and translucent to the core, the 2014 Pontet-Canet is one of the sexiest wines of the vintage. A host of violets, lavender, mint, spices, new leather and plums grace the palate in an utterly exquisite wine endowed with magnificent yet understated depth and crystalline purity. This is without question one of the highlights of the vintage. The 2014 isn’t a big wine; rather it is a Pauillac built on a total sense of finesse. The 2014 was vinified in equal parts cement and oak, and is aging in a combination of 50% new oak, 35% amphora and 15% once used barrels. The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Personally, I can’t wait to taste the 2014 from bottle.
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate 93-95
It is initially quite reticent, a little broody in the glass. However, it unfolds with each swirl revealing a very pure and I feel, a more contained and classic bouquet compared to the 2013: blackberry, graphite, minerals and a touch of incense. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, quite tensile tannin. The acidity is very well judged – crescendo of flavors that lead to a precise, lightly spiced, quite vivacious finish. What I like here is that it is very Pauillac, in the sense that I feel that recent vintages were flirting with deviating too far away from what a typical Pauillac ought to be. This is unmistakable in terms of where it comes from, but there it retains that sense of focus and mineralité that ensures this is a total success for the vintage. I find this more appealing than the 2013 last year and this 2014 should be a vintage that puts a smile on Jean-Michel Comme’s face.
James Suckling, 95-96
The strength of this Pontet Canet is very impressive, making it structured and tannic with a long and intense finish. Yet it turns to bright and vivid fruits. Full body. A modern classic. It builds on the palate.

Les Hauts de Pontet Canet (Second Wine), 12×75 – £240 EP

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