House: Château Cantemerle
Name: Château Cantemerle 2013, 5. Cru Classé
Origin: Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Price: 210 DKK/28,20 EUR/34,60 USD on winefamly.dk (market price: 299 DKK/40,10 EUR/49,30 USD)
1855 Bordeaux clasification
The historic 1855 Bordeaux Classification stands as the single most important and famous classifications of any wine region in the world. Almost 160 years later, this historic document continues to stand the test of time, with almost no changes. In fact, since 1855, the official classification of Bordeaux wines from the Medoc has only allowed two modifications in almost 160 years!
Chateau Cantemerle (the wine that I am tasting today) was added in 1856, for the simple reason that it was left off by accident in 1855! The more important and historic change came when Chateau Mouton Rothschild was promoted from Second Growth to First Growth status. This happened quite recently – 1973.
Issues with 1855 classification
To help you understand what the term Growth (Cru) means, think of it like this. The best wines of Bordeaux were placed in ranking categories. Each of the ranking categories were called Growths. A wine with the ranking of First Growth was considered the best wine in Bordeaux.
While the rankings were in theory about quality, the selling price factored heavily into which wines were ranked into their respective categories and of course, the most expensive wines were The First Growth Bordeaux Wines.
Second problem lies in the name of this act. It was created in 1855. Even though the wines that fall under the 1855 classification are exceptional, world-class wines today, the classification is quite outdated. Wines that are now in 5th Cru might taste better than some of the wines of Chateau Margaux (depending on the vintage). Some of the wines might be so bad that they should not hold their title at all.
Third problem arises from the fact, that 1855 classification only considers wines from Médoc. The only exception is now legendary Chateau Haut-Brion, located in Graves. This house was included only because of its fame at the moment and because it sold as much, if not more, wine that any of the 1er Cru houses. But besides that, 1855 classification disregards great regions such as Pomerol or St. Emilion.
Super Second Bordeaux
As mentioned before, the 1855 list is outdated. It is a well know fact that this list is most probably never going to change. That is why wine collectors, critics and winemakers came up with term Super Second Bordeaux.
The term Super Second Bordeaux had not been coined yet. In fact, the term, Super Second is a modern invention. But it works and today, it’s in common usage among Bordeaux wine collectors all over the world.
When viewed objectively, considering its age and the numerous changes in how Bordeaux wine is made, the overall results remain very impressive. For a myriad of reasons, many of them political in nature, that list is never going to change. It is etched into history. What if it did change? Would the Super Second Bordeaux ranking come into play?
Bordeaux wine lovers came up with an additional term that is often bandied about, Super Second Bordeaux. Super Second Bordeaux wines are Second Growth Bordeaux wines that are almost at the level of quality as the First Growths.
They sell for more money than the other Second Growths, but they are not as expensive as the First Growths. What Bordeaux wine producers are considered Super Second Bordeaux wines today?
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion Pessac Leognan, belongs at the top of the Super Second Bordeaux producer list. In fact, an argument can be made that La Mission Haut Brion deserves First Growth status.
Chateau Cantemerle 2013, 5. Cru Classé Haut-Médoc
This wine consists of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. In the nose we get warm notes of oak, coffee, blueberries and chocolate. In the taste we get notes of tobacco and black currants with nice light tannins and acidity well complementing the flavor. Wine has very long, warm and smooth finish.
Chateua Cantemerle is my first experience with an 1855 wine. Despite the fact, that 1855 might be out-dated, this wine definitely belongs among the top of the Bordeaux region. It is a great wine for lovers of rich, intense red wines best enjoyed with a nice of piece of meat or strong cheese.