About the wine
The 13 hectare south-facing vineyard of Chateau Vrai Canon Bouché is planted with 70% Merlot & 30% Cabernet Franc. The terroir is clay and fossil-rich limestone soils on the top of the Canon Fronsac plateau. The vineyard is situated on a massive limestone quarry. The average age of the vines at Vrai Canon Bouché is 35 years, with a few parcels of old vine Merlot. The vineyard is planted to a density of 6,000 vines per hectare and is farmed using sustainable viticulture, as one would expect in a property consulted by Stéphane Derenoncourt. A great deal of effort is focused on the vineyard management. The soils are worked mechanically; de-leafing and crop-thinning are carried out as necessary. The grapes are always harvested by hand. Destemmed. Little intervention is required in the cellar. Everything flows through the use of gravity. The whole berries are placed in small thermo-regulated concrete vats for fermentation at 27-30 degrees C. 15-20 days maceration following fermentation. Natural yeasts. Malolactic in barrel. The wine is exclusively matured for 12 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% 2 years old.
Very opulent aromas, exhaling well-ripened black cherry and red berry notes. Discrete smoked fragrances mix with mineral features. Supple and vibrant attack, boasting once again an entire range of fruit, including cherry jam and black currant. Toasted flavors combine with hints of flint stone. Following several years ageing, this wine will develop aromas of truffle one of the characteristics of its terroir. It expresses plenty of aromatic concentration, underscored by mineral salinity refined with plenty of distinction.
About the producer
Stéphane Derenoncourt began working in the vineyard at the age of 19, becoming proficient in all aspects of vine work. When he became the cellar master at Château Pavie-Macquin, he was able to put his vine knowledge to use by making exceptional wines. He also acted as a consultant for many leading properties, as he continues to do today, with great sensitivity and a belief in the sacrosanct nature of wines to evoke their own specific terroir and individuality. Stéphane’s consultant venture ‘Derenoncourt Consultants’ embodies a new generation of consultancy in viticulture and wine-making. Their philosophy is that there is no such thing as a ‘petit vin’. With a broad palette of clients, a huge amount of investment and a great deal of hard work, they are able to showcase many lesser-known terroirs, producing exceptional wines, each with a distinct personality. Stéphane’s personal property, Domaine de l’A, is a 10 hectares estate planted to Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc (20%) at Sainte-Colombe, to the east of St Emilion in the Côtes de Castillon.
Regions Vintage Report:It is almost impossible to avoid being exposed to pre-campaign comment and speculation each year ahead of the annual En Primeur week in Bordeaux. This year was no different. The critical discussion point once again was pricing and the absolute need for the proprietors to “get it right”. The trade is united on this key element of the En Primeur mix: this year it is vital. Speculative comments re the style/quality, however, are not that helpful so we always try and reserve judgement until we have actually tasted the wines first-hand, even if the fully representative nature of many samples may be questionable. The week though does reveal the overall personality of the vintage as well as the more pronounced highs and lows.The Growing SeasonThe year started with the second wettest winter in 50 years and the warmest in almost 25 years, assuring that the vegetative cycle would start early and well set up.Temperatures took a significant hike in early March, but cold nights acted as a bit of a brake on progress. Nevertheless budding was widely evident from the middle of the month and two weeks ahead of normal. This gave rise to hopes of an early flowering and an early harvest, a precursor to a top quality vintage, at least if history is a guide.April was very warm and dry, but May started cool and dull, causing some coulure/ millerandage on a few plots of precocious Merlots towards the end of the month. The majority of the crop, though, flowered successfully during the first half of June, maintaining the two week advantage. There was, however, widespread oidium and mildew which demanded constant and vigilant attention. The most diligent estates kept on top of the situation, never allowing the infections to take hold, at least not on the developing grape bunches. Ensuring good air circulation in the leaf canopy was key. As June came to a close so did summer, at least until the beginning of September! Both July and August were lacking in sun, warmth and suffered from regular bouts of rain causing the moment of ripening to be delayed and irregular. Disease pressure was never far away and the fortnight advantage had now been lost.Then, as September arrived, so did the fine weather and it stayed, almost unbroken, for a full two months, until the end of October! A particularly glorious Indian summer established itself over Bordeaux yielding a September that was not only the third driest for a century but also the third hottest!Harvesting the Sauvignon and Semillon grapes for the dry whites started in the first week of the month, all under benign weather conditions. Wines of fine aromatics, marked freshness as well as good richness and weight were widely anticipated.The Merlot harvest began in earnest during the third week of September, still under wonderfully blue skies. The grapes had continued to ripen beautifully awaiting the optimum moment to be harvested. Some sorting was necessary in order to ensure that only the best fruit was retained, certainly for the finest selections. The Cabernets were brought in during the second half of October, having benefited from such an extended ripening period and consequent long hang-time. Yields, overall, were a significant improvement on last year and for many were approaching respectability!The dry weather of September was not especially conducive to a bounteous outbreak of noble rot, so the Sauternes harvest became very prolonged and piece-meal, often berry by berry in order to select sufficiently botrytised fruit. It needed the occasional bout of rain in October to herald new waves of botrytis. The fine weather thereafter enabled pickers to gather a crop of excellent quality, but very restricted in yield.Resulting Wine Styles Red winesThe best show plenty of concentration, intensity and purity of fruit as well as a noticeable freshness (thanks to the cool summer). The Cabernets appear to be more consistently impressive than the Merlots, but exceptions are plentiful. As ever it is risky to generalise, as there are stars on both the Left and Right Bank. Nevertheless the overriding impression that the finest wines portray is one of sheer drinkability. Elegance and refinement are key descriptors. The successful wines exhibited lithe, finely grained tannins with a linearity of fruit and no excess. Care in selection is required though, as many other wines reflect a more heavy handed approach with insufficiently ripe fruit and/or excessive extraction.In terms of similarity to past vintages, oft-quoted was 2001, or maybe 1996 or 2006 (especially in the more Cabernet dominant appellations). Some even hinted at 2010 due to the vintage’s combination of richness and freshness. This may be a little exaggerated, we feel, but it is clearly the best vintage SINCE 2010 and it will be a vintage that will be approachable in the medium term, but should also age well thanks to its good acidity.Dry White Wines2014 is rightly considered as an excellent vintage for dry white Bordeaux. The best wines from Pessac-Leognan are very fine indeed, offering lifted aromatics, keen-edged vitality and yet richness too.Sauternes/ BarsacAs for the dry whites, the same marriage of richness and freshness is evident, at least for the finest wines. The marked difference between the early picked September fruit with high acidity and the later picked October fruit with its power and complexity has given the master blenders an ability to fashion wines of incredible depth yet vibrancy: a magical combination. The quality of the top echelon wines shines brightly in 2014. Past vintages that had a similar profile? Maybe 2001 or, for some, even 2011? All in all, a great result.Neil Sommerfelt MW, Fine Wine Buyer April 2015©adVINture 2020