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Chateau Cantemerle

Today Château Cantemerle is ranked as a 5th growth, but at the time of the 1855 classification of the Left Bank, it was controversially missed off the list of the classified châteaux. Madame Caroline de Villeneuve-Durfort, the owner at the time, continually insisted that her property be included, and eventually it was ranked. This re-addition was the first of only two major changes to the classification, and it caused quite a stir at the time. The estate is located in the southern part of the Médoc peninsular, and is one of the oldest properties in the wine region of Bordeaux; an historical document mentions the Lords of Cantemerle of La Sauve Majeor Abbey in the 12th century. Ponset de Cantemerle began to cultivate vineyards in the 14th century, at this time the land was mostly used for wheat, but by the 16th century the estate was devoted to wine production. Cantemerle belonged to the Villeneuve family from 1579 to 1892, followed by he Dubos family until 1980. In 1981 Cantemerle was taken over by the present owners, the Groupe SMA, who are a mutual insurance company in the construction and civil engineering sector. Cantemerle was the worst hit of all the classified growths by the phylloxera epidemic that swept through the vineyards in the late 19th century, and they were also so badly hit by downy mildew between 1879 and 1887, that production practically halved. Groupe SMA renovated the estate, which was in near ruin, replanted the close to 50% of the vineyards that needed replanting, and also expanded them, and there are now 91 hectares under vine in the communes of Macau and Ludon, planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot on deep gravelly soils with sand. The average age of the vines is 30 years old, but there are some that are septuagenarian. The wine is aged in oak for between 12 and 16 months depending on the vintage, 40% to 50% new. The Cantemerle style is complex and refined, appealingly fruity with marked rich vanilla notes from well-integrated oak. Their second wine is called Les Allées de Cantemerle.