Petit Cantenac 2015

Petit Cantenac 2015 is made with fruit with from our older Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon vines and was picked in perfect conditions during the cool early mornings of mid to late September and early October.

The colour of the wine shows a deep dark red and is marked by its’ beautiful Cabernet character, with fresh and lush rich notes of black plums, cassis, raspberry, figs, and fine leather, with hints of ginger and spice and soft vanillary new oak.

On the palate, it is full-bodied with firm but carefully weighted tannins on the entry, which become more defined as the wine lingers in the mouth, with dense savoury and earthy characters leading towards a rounded, supple, blackberry and plum finish that displays good restraint and poise.

It is a delicious and pleasing wine with a firm satisfying freshness, quite forward in style, but with fine soft tannins and an easy aromatic evolution that spreads neatly right across the palate. It will drink well after only 2 or 3 years, but will also continue to develop nicely in the bottle.

Drink 2018 to 2028.

Vineyard: 5.7 hectares overall vineyard

Grape variety: 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc

Harvest: 100% by hand between 24th to 25th October

Winemaking: Saignée, cold maceration (7-8°C) for 6 days to develop fruit aromas. Alcoholic fermentation (25C) for 5 days with regular pumping over. Post-fermentation maceration (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 & 60% 2nd year barrels for 14

Alcohol by volume: 13.5%vol

Residual sugar: < 2 g/l

Production: 11,500 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.

This is a wine of purpose. A fragrant, expansive nose leads to a splendid palate. At first a burst of dark fruits, chocolate and coffee, then the structure comes through. There is a freshness here and fine acidity along with lightly grained tannins.”

Hugo Rose MW