Led by Annette Schiller, the Bordeaux Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours took place from September 6 to 15, 2016. The group comprised 14 wine lovers from the United States and Switzerland, including Annette and Christian Schiller. I already provided an overview of the tour.
See: Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France
This posting focuses on our first visit in Saint-Emilion, Château Canon La Gaffelière, which is owned by the German von Neipperg family.
Magali Malet was our host.
Château Canon La Gaffelière
Canon La Gaffelière also is one of the only 15 Premier Grand Cru Classé B châteaux in Saint-Emilion. Proprietor Count Stephan von Neipperg is a descendant of an Austrian / German noble line dating back to the Holy Roman Empire. Members of this dynasty always played important roles in European history and politics, and have been making wine since the 12th century. The family still owns a wine estate in the Württemberg region of Germany, where their roots are.
The von Neipperg Family in Germany, Austria and France
Proprietor Count Stefan von Neipperg hails from the German wine region of Württemberg where his family has maintained its existing vineyards since the 15th century and bottles its wine under the family label, Weingut des Grafen von Neipperg. In fact, the von Neipperg counts are descended from a noble line dating back to the Holy Roman Empire. The first record of the Count von Neipperg goes as far back as the 12th century.
Count Joseph Hubert von Neipperg branched out in 1971 and acquired 4 St. Emilion estates in 1971: La Mondotte, Château Canon La Gaffelière, Clos de l'Oratoire, and Château Peyraud. Since 1984, Count Joseph Hubert’s son Count Stephan has been in charge of these 4 estates. Moreover, he expanded the family’s French holdings further and also entered into a joint venture in Bulgaria.
Here is a list of all von Neipperg estates:
La Mondotte, AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Premier Grand Cru Classé
Château Canon La Gaffelière, AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Premier Grand Cru Classé
Clos de l'Oratoire, AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Grand Cru Classé
Château Peyreau, AOC Saint-Émilion
Château d'Aiguilhe, AOC Cotes de Castillon
Clos Marsalette, AOC Pessac-Léognan
Château Guiraud, AOC Sauternes, Premier Cru Classé 1855
Château Soleil. AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion
Bulgaria: Count Stephan von Neipperg, in conjunction with the banker Karl-Heinz Hauptmann, was one of the first people to invest in the wine sector in Bulgaria - in the Bessa Valley, in the Pazardjik region, 135 km southeast of Sofia.
Count Stephan von Neipperg in France
Stephan Graf von Neipperg was borne at the family estate in Schwaigern. As a young man, he had no intention of getting involved in wine. He studied politics and business administration in Paris. Later, after having decided to change course, he also studied winemaking in Montpelier.
Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) on the 2016 North America Tour - Schiller’s Favorites
In 1983, Stephan Graf von Neipperg Neipperg moved with his German wife Sigweis to St. Emilion. At that point, the French holdings of the von Neipperg family consisted of the four estates his father had bought in 1971. Since then Stephan Graf von Neipperg he expanded the family’s French holdings further and also entered into a joint venture in Bulgaria. He has become one of the Right Bank's most successful winemakers.
Château Canon La Gaffeliere in Saint Emilion with Owner Count Stefan von Neipperg, Bordeaux
On that very successful route, Stephan Graf von Neipperg linked his fortunes to Stéphane Derenoncourt, a Normandy millworker's son who had never seen a grapevine before hitchhiking to Bordeaux in 1982, but taught himself enology and has since confounded traditionalists with his winemaking.
Emerging Wine Giant China: Top Wine China 2014, Beijing, China
Château Canon La Gaffeliere Tour
We started in the vineyards, then moved to the production facilities and ended the visit with a tasting of 4 wines.
Château Canon La Gaffelière is located on the outskirts of the medieval town of Saint-Emilion, at the southern foot of the slope. The 19.5 hectare vineyard has a complex, outstanding terroir of clay-limestone and clay-sand soil. The topsoil is primarily sandy, increasingly so as one moves away from the slope. The vines, an average of 45 years old, are deeply rooted in the soil and absorb all the goodness in the terroir. They are mostly replaced individually rather than plot by plot (which maintains the average age). The last major replanting dates back to 1986.
In 1988, Stephan Graf von Neipperg instituted a green harvest, dropping fruit in June to gain depth and ripeness in September. He stopped using chemical fertilizers and insecticides in 1993 as he edged toward a more biodynamic approach. "Just like 70 years ago," Stephan Graf von Neipperg. "The insects eat each other." He harvested later than his neighbors and aged his cuvées entirely in new oak.
The mixture of grape varieties cultivated on the wine estate (55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) is rather untypical in comparison to the rest of the appellation. This identity, strongly influenced by Cabernet, gives the Canon La Gaffelière wines an outright complex character.
The Wines Megali Malte Poured
Megali showed us 4 wines.
2012 Château d'Aiguilhe, AOC Cotes de Castillon
Wine-Searcher Average Price in US$: 24
Château d'Aiguilhe is located on hills overlooking the Right Bank of the Dordogne River, on the border of the Côtes de Castillon appellation.
This 110 hectare estate has 50 hectares of vines, which are planted exclusively on the upper part of the hills. The vineyard has excellent natural drainage and south-facing sun exposure. The minerals in the clay-limestone soil account for a wine of both power and finesse in which the roundness of Merlot (80%) marries beautifully with the concentration and complexity of Cabernet Franc (20%).
Comte Stefan von Neipperg purchased the estate in 1998. He invested millions of euros in a state-of-the-art facility at Château d'Aiguilhe, in the previously unnoticed Côtes de Castillon appellation, then dared to market the wine like a St.-Emilion Grand Cru Classé. The success of d’Aiguilhe is credited with putting Cotes de Castillon on the map.
2010 Clos de l'Oratoire, AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Grand Cru Classé
Wine-Searcher Average Price in US$: 61
Clos de l'Oratoire is located on Saint-Emilion's north-east slope. The 10 hectares of vines grow on Fronsac molasse covering a layer of sand with a clay subsoil. This terroir is ideally suited to the blend of Merlot (90%), Cabernet Franc (5%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) grapes. Merlot contributes roundness and opulence to the wine, whereas Cabernet Franc is responsible for power, aromatic complexity, and length.
In 1991, Stephan Graf von Neipperg was given control of Clos de l'Oratoire, and he subsequently bought the remaining 30 percent of the property from other investors.
2008 Château Canon La Gaffelière, AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Premier Grand Cru Classé
Wine-Searcher Average Price in US$: 84
2006 La Mondotte, AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Premier Grand Cru Classé
Wine-Searcher Average Price in US$: 283
The 4.5-hectare estate, founded in the 19th century, is situated on the most eastern plateau of Saint-Emilion and was purchased in 1971 by the family of the Counts of Neipperg, at the same time as the Château Canon La Gaffelière. Even though La Mondotte used to be in the shadow of Canon La Gaffelière as long as to the middle of the 1990ies, it has benefited to the same extent of the philosophy of Stephan von Neipperg and his teams.
Excellent hydric regulation encourages the vines to sink their roots deep into the soil. The superb sun exposure and fine natural drainage due to the steep slope make this a very early-maturing terroir. The vines are an average of 50 years old and the vineyard contains only premium grape varieties (75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc). Ripening, especially of Merlot, is almost invariably early and complete.
The recent admission of Château La Mondotte - which sixteen years ago used to be almost unknown on the market - in the extremely closed circle of Premiers Grand Crus Classés is extraordinary.
Many thanks Megali for a great tour and tasting.
Postings on the Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France (Posted and Forthcoming)
Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France
Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France
Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy
Bordeaux Wines and their Classifications: The Basics
Bordeaux - En Primeur, Negociants, Courtiers, the Quai de Chartons and the Place de Bordeaux – A Short Introduction
How Does the Negociant System in Bordeaux Work? Tour and Tasting at Millésima - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France
Tour and Tasting from Barrel at Domaine de Chevalier, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Adrien Bernard - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France
Dinner with a View: At Restaurant L’Estacade in Bordeaux City - Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux City, France
Schiller's Favorite Seafood Places in Bordeaux City, France
Saint Emilion Wines and their Classification, Bordeaux, France
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in St. Emilion, France
The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany
Tour and Tasting at Château Canon La Gaffelière, Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé
Tour and Wine Lunch at Château Beauséjour, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, with Owner and Winemaker Gérard Dupuy
Tour and Tasting at Château de Figeac, Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé
Tour and Tasting at Château Beauregard, Pomerol
Tour at Château Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol, with Dany Rolland
Wine Lunch at Château Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol, with Dany Rolland
Tasting were it all Started: At the "Garage" of Jean-Luc Thunevin, Owner and Winermaker of Château Valandraud, Premier Grand Cru Classé since 2012
Tour and Tasting at Château de Fargues, Sauternes, with Prince Eudes d’Orléans
Wine Pairing Lunch at the 1-star Michelin Restaurant Claude Darozze, with Marie-Hélène Lévêque, Owner of Châteaux Chantegrive
Tour of Château de Chantegrive, Appellation Grave
Tour and Tasting at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé.
Wine Pairing Lunch at the 2-star Michelin Restaurant La Grande Vigne (at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte)
Tour of the new Musee du Vin in Bordeaux City
Seafood lunch at Pinasse Cafe in Cap Ferret
Tour of the Earl Ostrea Chanca Oyster Farm and Oyster Tasting in Grand-Piquey, with Oyster Farmer Ralph Doerfler
The 5 Premiers Grands Crus Chateaux en 1855 of Bordeaux, France
What is a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois? France
Tourt and tasting at Château Palmer, Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé
Tour and Tasting at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Pauillac, 2ième Grand Cru Classé
Wine Lunch at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Pauillac, 2ième Grand Cru Classé
Tour and Tasting at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Michel Tesseron
At the Invitation of Owner Michel Tesseron: Private Dinner at Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé
Tour and Tasting at Château Sociando Mallet, Appellation Haut-Médoc
How a Barrel is Made: Visit of the Cooperage Berger & Fils in Vertheuil
Lunch were the Locals eat: At Le Peyrat in Saint-Estèphe in Saint Estephe
Tour and Tasting at Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé, with Anne Cuvelier
Tour and Tasting at Château Margaux, Appellation Margaux, 1ière Grand Cru Classé
Tour and Tasting at Château Kirwan, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Nathalie Schyler
Picnic Lunch at Château Kirwan, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé, with Owner Nathalie Schyler
Tour and Wine Dinner at Château Haut-Bailly, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé, with Daina Paulin