Château Brane-Cantenac 2018
If there was one word to describe Château Brane-Cantenac, it would be “meticulous.” This Second Growth Château in the Margaux appellation firmly believes in slow, methodical, and continuous experimentation in the vat room. In a 2018 Decanter article, wine journalist Jane Anson describes a rigorous experiment at Château Brane-Cantenac where the estate was comparing different toasts of French and Russian Oak from the Caucasus forests with different lengths of seasoning from 24 to 36 months. The aim of the study was to discover which type of oak was better for their cooperage and whether the oak should be kept inside a drying park or have exposure to the natural elements such as rainfall. This is considered a normal experiment at Château Brane-Cantenac. One can clearly see at this estate, complacency is not an option.
Château Brane-Cantenac originates back to the early 17th Century, where it was known as Domaine Guilhem Hosten. It was one of the most expensive vineyards in Bordeaux and was highly respected long before it was ranked as a Second Growth during the 1855 Classification. The estate received its namesake when it was purchased by Baron de Brane, a highly respected viticulturalist who was nicknamed, “Napoleon of the Vines.” The Baron was the owner of the estate Brane-Mouton, another producer that would later become known as the famous First Growth Estate, Château Mouton Rothschild. The Baron sold his holdings of Brane-Mouton to acquire Château Brane-Cantenac. The estate changed hands in the 1920s to a négociant Château Grand Crus de France that also owned Château Margaux. Eventually Château Brane-Cantenac was acquired by one of the most famous winemaking families in Bordeaux, the Lurton family.
After several generations, the estate is currently helmed by the ambitious and personable Henri Lurton. Lurton is not afraid of thinking outside of the box and owns another winery in Baja California called Bodegas Henri Lurton. With master’s degrees in Biology, Oenology, and Ampelography, he brings his scientific knowledge and love of experimentation to the vineyards at Château Brane-Cantenac. The viticultural team oversees the 75-hectare left bank vineyard with its numerous plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere. Under his leadership, 20% of the vineyard is organically farmed and 4 hectares are biodynamically farmed. Château Brane-Cantenac has its own weather station linked up to the European Demeter Network and for more than ten years has used a website run by Meteo France to show daily weather reports, rain radar, satellite pictures, and long-range forecasts.
Though not the most outwardly showy wines in Margaux, the wines of Brane-Cantenac are adored because of their highly complex and layered nuances that unfold with time. They are gorgeously textured, and the fruits shine through with confidence as they age. They are softer and more accessible than some of the bolder wines of Pauillac and other Margaux Second Growths. Because of their accessibility and strength, these wines are tremendously versatile. They can be consumed on the younger side or laid down and enjoyed years later.
"A quintessential Margaux as well as one of the finest wines I've tasted from this estate, the 2018 Château Brane-Cantenac is based on 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, all aged in 70% new French oak. Beautiful cassis and mulberry fruits as well as notes of leafy tobacco, spice, cedarwood, and spring flowers emerge from the glass. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and elegant, it has loads of fruit, a seamless texture, and a good spine of acidity. Give bottles 4-5 years and enjoy over the following 30 years or more." Jeb Dunnuck, 2018 Bordeaux From The Bottle (3/11/2021) Rating: 95+ Drink: 2025-2055
"The 2018 Brane-Cantenac captures all of the natural richness of the year. Ample, creamy and resonant, the 2018 offers quite a bit of intensity while retaining its mid-weight sense of structure. Dark red cherry, mint, spice, and dried rose petals are some of the signatures. Even with its obvious volume the 2018 retains lovely aromatic freshness and nuance. The 2018 is an especially juicy, open-knit Brane-Cantenac. Grilled herbs, menthol, spice and anise add an attractive upper-register to the perfumed finish. The blend is 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Tasted three times." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, (April, 2019), Ratings: 92-95
"The 2018 Brane-Cantenac is deep garnet-purple in color and delivers expressive black cherry compote, blueberry coulis and crème de cassis scents with suggestions of cigar box, Provence herbs and lavender. Full-bodied with mouth-filling, rich black fruit preserves, it has a velvety texture and a long, perfumed finish." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Rating: 92-94
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