Wine Review: 2004 Château Cantemerle

Château Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc, Cinquièmes Crus Classés 2004

Château Cantemerle was one of the first wines that instantly attracted me to Bordeaux. Located in the Haut-Médoc appellation of the Bordeaux wine region of France, the wine produced was the final estate to be classified as one of eighteen Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growths) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Its intial absence from the classification featured at the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris created some controversy among wine producers and critics, and as a result, it has been listed on all classification lists published after 1856.

The price of Cantemerle is outstanding considering its placement in the 1855 Classification (perhaps the most prestigious in the wine world) along with the fact that it is an incredibly accessible wine. I think both the 2000 and the 2006 were outstanding efforts and really epitomize the characteristics I personally love in red wine. I would highly recommend investing in the 2006 vintage of this excellent Château, especially considering American wine critic Robert M. Parker’s review in the Wine Advocate in which he called the wine a “quintessentially elegant Bordeaux” and a “great value” with a score of 90/100. (Review of both the 2000 and 2006 vintages to come at a later date.)

Château Cantemerle owns 470 acres of land on a beautiful estate in Haut-Médoc and 222 acres of those are planted with vines. Of these, 215 acres are under production. The grape varieties cultivated at Cantemerle are mainly 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, with additional 5% of Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. On average, the vines are 30 years old.

The 2004 vintage of Cantemerle is interesting as it does not remind me of the other vintages I have had of this estate. On the nose, raspberry, cherry, cranberry fruit aromas come across. It has a nice violet appearance.

On the attack, a nice mixture of dark fruits, flowers, with a hint of smoky tobacco seem prominent in addition to slightly spicy tannins, characteristic of the other Cantemerle vintages I have had. The finish, while short and subtle was where this wine differed from the 2000 and 2006 vintages of Cantemerle. These wines had long, drawn out aftertastes that were quite memorable. Unfortunately this wine did not share this characteristic which made it a bit of a disappointment. I also found the balance a bit off compared to the 2000 and 2006 vintages. Despite this, the wine drank well five years later, although it clearly is not the best effort by Château Cantemerle.

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