Clos Cantenac 2015

Clos Cantenac 2015 is made from 100% fully ripe Merlot from our older vines planted in two separate blocks close to the winery and picked in the absolutely perfect early morning conditions of mid to late September.

The wine shows a deep dense black in colour with a vibrant and hugely appealing nose of fine rich, ripe fruits, with hints of elderberries, praline, voilet and cassis like aromas, enhanced by deep and dark spicey notes of cinnamon and pepper. The elegance and finesse of the wine is further supported by a whole register of complex lush fresh berry and brambly flavours, pencil shavings, almonds, mocha, roasted chestnuts and subtle soft grilled new oak notes.

On the palate it displays a beautiful fruit density with succulent crunchy bright fruits and black cherries that spread right across the mouth with an impressive intensity of character but is deceptively soft with good weight and just the right amount of dryness to counter balance the richness of the wine. It is still tightly coiled, but it already shows good weight and a fine structure and is well balanced by the uplifting purity and freshness of the fruit, the juicy acidity and a slight chalky texture followed by fine velvety refined tannins and an amazingly long and seductive finish.

Vineyard: 5.7 hectares overall vineyard

Grape variety: 100% Merlot

Harvesting: 100% by hand, 15th and 24th September

Winemaking: S Saignée, cold maceration (7-8°C) for 8 days to develop fruit aromas. Alcoholic fermentation (25°C) for 5 days with regular pumping over. Post-fermentation macerating (28-29°C) for 15-20 days, due to the exceptional fruit quality. Malo-lactic fermentation in oak barrels.

Ageing: Aged in 40% New French Oak and 60% 2nd year Oak for 14 months

Alcohol by volume: 13.5% vol

Residual sugar: < 2 g/l

Production: 12,500 bottles

2015 was a wonderful growing year, particularly for those with the ‘terroirs’ that were able to cope with the long periods of drought and high temperatures. Fortunately, for us at Clos Cantenac our vines are largely situated on either deep gravels or shallow sandy soils over gravels/clay and broken limestone, and so fared very well during the prolonged period of drought leading to water deficit as a result of the lack of rain from April until August.

However, the winter was also unusually short and dry and so due to the lack of the normal seasonal rainfall, the water table was much lower than usual right from the start of the growing year, which subsequently also further contributed to the severe drought later in the year.

In the meantime we had a fabulous start to the growing year with bud burst about 10 days earlier than average but followed by a very even early growth cycle and fine weather with just a little rain right up to the flowering. The flowering was over quickly and appeared to be very even, which resulted in a good fruit set and showed the first signs of very good yields.

Summer was warm, long and dry with above average sunshine hours, but coupled with cool nights and early mornings that lasted right to the end of July and into early August when we finally had some very important and welcome rain.

From mid August onwards, the fine weather prevailed with more glorious sunshine despite the already shortening daylight hours as we headed towards the Autumn. During this period the daytime temperatures continued to be on average 25ºC whilst the nights were cool, helping to develop the aromas and flavours of the fruit, but we were at this stage still almost 2 weeks ahead of the usual vegetal cycle.

Rather unusually, we started our 2015 harvest by picking several small blocks of Merlot on Tuesday 8th September destined for our first ever rose wine at Clos Cantenac, which was a full week ahead of the first of reds and 2 weeks before the main Merlot harvest began.

Wednesday 16th September brought a little welcomed rain, which would certainly help the yields, followed by some more rain on Friday morning, but then a glorious weekend followed.

On Monday 21st September we picked the central section at ‘La Devine’ and the weather was quite amazing, warm and settled with just a slight but pleasant and refreshing breeze.

The next day started off cloudy and overcast but by mid morning we had bright warm sunshine as we recommenced our picking with the rest of ‘La Devine’ and then moving to the middle section of ‘La Plante’ and receiving the last trailer of fruit too late to process that evening.

The next morning when we started work at 8am with the temperature at just 8ºC and quickly managed the fruit into cuvee, but by the time we had completely finished for the day at 5pm it was a balmy 24ºC.

On Monday 5th October, under cool and slightly overcast skies, we completed the Cabernet at ‘Le Menhir’ and also at ‘La Plante’ and by late afternoon with everything in the cellar the temperature hits 25ºC.

The overall result is highly satisfactory with quite good yields of around 40hl/h and a pretty full cellar. The early signs are that the quality of the red fruit is easily equal that of the 2009/10 vintages.

Elderberry, praline and violet aromas with a luxurious palate of blackberry and wild berry fruit, velvety brambly textures and lovely, savoury, underlying roasted chestnut notes.”

Andrew Caillard MW