All wine enthusiasts know of the 1855 Bordeaux wine classification that ranked Left Bank wine properties into five tiers, termed “growths”. But, what about the Right Bank? Well, Pomerol and Fronsac remain unclassified but Saint Emilion, the largest and most prominent appellation, created a system in 1955 (yes, exactly 100 yrs. after the Left Bank). Many wine drinkers seem to be less familiar with this system. The Saint Emilion classification has four levels: Premier Grand Cru Classe A, Premier Cru Classe B, Grand Cru Classe and Grand Cru. Premier Grand Crus are considered to be equivalent to Left Bank First and Second Growths; Cheval Blanc and Pavie, for example, are Classe A (our price for the Cheval Blanc 2000 is $1299.97, just sayin’).
Canon La Gaffeliere is one of fourteen estates classified as Premier Grand Cru Classe B. The estate is owned by Count Stephen Von Neipperg, whose father bought the property in 1971. The Von Neippergs are a German aristocratic family that served the imperial family of Austria as diplomats and bureaucrats for hundreds of years and have made wine in Germany since the 13th century. The name Gaffaliere has been attached to the Saint Emilion property since the 19th century but vines have been grown on the land since Roman times.
The 19.5 hectare property is planted with 52% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Average vine age is 50 years, with some close to 80 years. Von Neipperg and his wife Sigweis took over in the 80s and after being dissatisfied with some of their early vintages they dispensed with winery tricks such as microoxygenation, adopting more traditional practices and converted the property to organic farming, all with the goal of better expressing the terroir of the property. Vines are hand-picked and fields plowed mostly with horses rather than tractors to reduce compaction of the soil. We have the 2015 (Wine Spectator 2018 #2) and 2016. Both are drinking well now and both will age for decades.
Canon La Gaffeliere St. Emilion 2015
Sale Price: $116.97*
Wine Advocate, 97pts. - Composed of 55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in French oak, 55% new, for 17 months, the 2015 Canon la Gaffeliere features a deep garnet-purple color and a cedar-laced nose to begin, giving way to fragrant underlying scents of roses and violets with a core of crushed black currants, blackberries and Bing cherries plus hints of fallen leaves and dusty earth. Medium to full-bodied, the seductively perfumed red and black fruit fills the mouth, framed with plush tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing very long and minerally. (2/2018)
Vinous, 97 pts. – “The 2015 Canon La Gaffelière is deep, powerful and explosive. Seamless and captivating in the glass, it possesses magnificent richness, volume and intensity in every dimension. The Cabernet Franc, usually such a strong signature, is nearly buried by the sheer intensity of the Merlot fruit. Espresso, mocha, licorice and plum infuse the racy finish. The 2015 is going to need the better part of a decade to be expressive.” (2/2018)
Wine Spectator, 96pts. – “Still youthfully tight and backward, with a well-roasted frame of alder and juniper holding sway for now, but the core of cassis, blackberry and plum fruit waits in reserve, showing prodigious depth. When the toast and fruit melds, the backdrop of tobacco, singed iron and chalky minerality will get a turn to show. There's a lot here. Built for the cellar.” *Ranked #2 Top 100 Wines of 2018* (3/2018)
Canon La Gaffeliere St. Emilion 2016
Sale Price: $94.97*
Vinous, 96pts. – “The 2016 Canon La Gaffelière is just as striking from bottle as it was from barrel. Bright, intensely aromatic and precise, the 2016 has it all. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, blood orange and rose petal all race through this silky, super-expressive Saint-Émilion. In 2016, Canon La Gaffelière is especially polished, refined and nuanced, which means also less overly powerful than in the past. It was compelling both times I tasted it from bottle.” (1/2019)
James Suckling, 96pts. – “The aromas are very complex with sweet tobacco, black truffles, blueberries and blackberries. Subtle. Menthol, too. Full-bodied yet so elegant. Structure with finesse and purity. The tannins are melted in the wine. Fabulous young wine. Try tasting it from 2023.” (2/2019)
* Sale prices good for one week only (until 4/18/2021)
Past Cellar Selections:
Keenan Cabernet Reserve 2016 - Cult Wine for the Masses (Ha!)
Casanova di Neri 2016 – Historic Vintage & 99pts.
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2015 – Super Second
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Huët Clos du Bourg 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Heitz, Dunn, Continuum . . . What is a Cult Cali Red?
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir 2018
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar