Located on the pied de côte (foot of the slope) south of the medieval village of Saint-Émilion, Château Canon La Gaffelière’s terroir consists of clay-limestone and clay-sand soil that is very permeable and particularly efficient at retaining heat.
The choice of grape varieties is rather atypical for the appellation in light of the soil: almost a perfect 50/50 divide between Merlot and Cabernet. The Cabernets ripen early and remarkably well on Canon La Gaffelière’s warm soil, adding power and aromatic complexity to Merlot’s opulence to create wines of natural elegance and finesse.
In keeping with vineyard management adapted to each plot, the vat room was designed to be able to ferment and house wine made from each one in order to fine tune the final blend. Fermentation takes place slowly and temperatures are kept under close control to bring out the best the grapes have to offer. The wine is aged on the lees to enhance its intrinsic qualities and each barrel is treated individually. Non-interventionist winemaking is practised and in such a way as to make the most of vintage character.
Proprietor Comtes von Neipperg has done an incredible job with this estate, turning things around from a vegetal, diluted and undernourished wine in the 1970s and 1980s to something that has gotten stronger and strong ever since 1988. The dense ruby/purple 2012 offers pure blackcurrant and black cherry fruit along with some notes of Christmas spices and earth. It is full-bodied and opulent, with light tannins in the finish. This is a beauty of impeccable balance, great purity and texture. Kudos to von Neipperg, who rarely ever seems to make a mistake. Anticipated maturity: now-2030. The final blend tips the scales at 13.5% from an equal-part blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.[93 Points, Robert M. Parker, Jr. – April 2015, robertparker.com]