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2018 Brane Cantenac

2018 Brane Cantenac


Critic Reviews

This is now performing as one of the top Margaux estates. Their latest release shows structure, elegant black fruits and rich tannins. Densely textured and vibrantly fruity, the wine has a fine future. Drink from 2027.

Wine Enthusiast | 96 WE
The 2018 Brane-Cantenac opens with a super-classic bouquet of dried herbs, pencil shavings, licorice and mint. Medium in body and wonderfully nuanced, Brane-Cantenac marries the natural richness of the year with a classic structural feel. This is one of the most elegant, restrained 2018s readers will come across. I loved it.

Antonio Galloni | 95 AG
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 | 95+ JD
Deep and generous blackberry fruits and rich chocolate, there is good balance here with depth and interest and a ton of flavour. Really good stuff, with juice and a drive forward through the palate. 1% Petit Verdot makes up the blend - there was no Carmenère in the grand vin in 2018. A yield of 45hl/ha. 70% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2045.

Decanter | 95 DEC
Aromas of mushroom, meat, bark and iodine with blackberries and blackcurrants, following through to a full body with firm, creamy tannins that give structure and form to the wine. Tight on the finish. Long and persistent with presence. Drink after 2025.

James Suckling | 95 JS
The 2018 Brane-Cantenac is medium to deep garnet-purple in color, leaping from the glass with vibrant notes of kirsch, black raspberries and warm cassis, plus suggestions of roses, forest floor and cinnamon stick with a waft of cedar chest. The medium-bodied palate is wonderfully elegant and refreshing, weighing in at just 13.5% alcohol, while not scrimping on the interplay of red and black fruits. It has lovely soft tannins and a long, perfumed finish. Impressive!

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 93+ RP

Wine Details for 2018 Brane Cantenac

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Region Bordeaux : Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Left Bank
Appellation Margaux


Producer Chateau Brane Cantenac : Positioned on the Cantenac Plateau, in the heart of the illustrious Margaux appellation of Bordeaux, the renowned Chateau Brane-Cantenac stands proudly. Its history is a tale of a thriving relationship between man and earth, dating back over 250 years, yet growing stronger as time passes. It is a serene place where man’s talent, nature and modern technology clash in the creation of one of the most recognized names in the world of wine. While respecting tradition, the use of cutting edge techniques has evolved into a tedious winegrowing and making process that has helped place the Second Growth property in rare company.

What we know of today as Chateau Brane-Cantenac began in the 17th Century when it was a small but prosperous estate known as Hostein. Even in those days, wine of great quality was being produced from the property, the vineyards and estate being established and developed by the Gorce Family. In fact, the wine was so highly regarded, it was one of the most expensive wines in all of Bordeaux and selling for almost as much as Brane Mouton (what we know today as Chateau Mouton Rothschild). This is interesting given who went on to buy the vineyard in the 1800s.

The Baron of Brane, also known as “Napoleon de Vignes” purchased the chateau in 1833. Interestingly, in order to obtain the funds needed for purchase, the Baron sold his beloved estate, Chateau Brane Mouton and what is now the renowned Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The Baron renamed the property Brane-Cantenac, merging his name with the name of the sector where the vineyards were located. The estate would later be passed to the Roy family, who were well known in the Margaux appellation as they also owned Chateau d’Issan.

In 1920, the Societe des Grands Crus de France, a group of merchants and growers that owned several chateau located in the Medoc, including Chateau Margaux, Giscourse (Margaux) and Lagrange in Saint Julien, purchased Brane-Cantenac. Five years later, M. Recapet and his son-in-law, Francois Lurton took control over the estate. It has been passed down to the next generation and remains in the capable hands of Henri Lurton today.

This new era brought about many improvements to the estate, including the replanting of large portions of the vineyard, increasing vine density, a new drainage system was installed and a slow changing of their current plantings. The 75 hectare vineyard is planted to 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, .5% Petit Verdot (first used in 2017) and .5% Carmenere (first used in the 2011 vintage).

The vineyards are continuously micro-managed with a single goal in mind: producing the highest quality grapes and maintaining low yields. Replanting efforts in recent years and a movement toward organic growing has demonstrated the estate’s strong commitment to sustainable viticulture. Lurton attaches such great importance to vine canopy work, very strict selection and moderate yields. Between low yields and a strict picking process, production of the first wine is very limited.

In keeping with tradition and respect for its ancestry, the vineyards of the Left Bank estate have essentially remained unchanged since it earned Second Growth status in the 1855 Classification of the Medoc, with exception to the new plantings. This is an important aspect since Brane-Cantenac’s greatest asset is the amazing quality of its historic terroir.

The estate possesses some of Margaux’s very finest plots, with the heart and soul of the vineyard being a 45 hectare parcel close to and surrounding the chateau and considered to be the greatest terroir on the property. These vines are located just in front of the Cantenac Plateau, which rises 22 meters above sea level. Due to its location, the topography provides superb natural drainage; the stony soils forcing the roots of the vines to delve deep into the earth for sustenance. It is not regarded solely for the elevations, but for the depth of the gravel which can be 12 meters deep in some areas. The terroir is famous for its deep, gravelly and mineral rich soils.

Parcels located further inland are used in the production of their second wine, Baron de Brane (paying homage to the famous Baron Jacques-Maxime de Brane). The terroir here consists of gravel, sand and iron soils. Brane de Baron is produced in limited quantity, similar to the first wine. The estate scarcely produces a third wine, Margaux de brane and carries the famous gold and black label; a highly recognizable attribute.

Modernization was implemented in the cellars in 1999, in which smaller vats were installed to allow for parcel by parcel vinification (impressively, there are 120 separate parcels on the property). Again in 2015, a complete renovation of their cellars took place, including the vat rooms. They have embraced optical sorting technology and in very wet vintages, they can also use reverse osmosis.

Harvest is a magical time at Brane-Cantenac; the typically tranquil estate turns into a flurry of activity as everyone prepares to gather the fruit that has been painstakingly nurtured throughout the year. Scientific analysis and tasting of the grapes must take place before the order is given to harvest, picking only occurring once each plot reaches a point of perfect maturity. This cooperative operation between man and nature is an incredibly harmonious event.

While the growing process is a combined alliance between man and nature, the winemaking at Brane-Cantenac is a collaboration between man and technology. A rigorous sorting process is carried out on a variety by variety and plot by plot basis, while state of the art optical scanning equipment allows for unprecedented precision and quality control. The grapes are crushed, fermented, macerated and pressed before being transferred to the barrels. Each stage requires extreme patience and accuracy. While the wine ages in barrel for 18 months, systematic tasting is conducted to judge the pace of the wines evolution.

Brane-Cantenac is better after 10 years of bottle age and can reach its peak maturity between 12-35 years after the vintage. It is an elegantly styled Margaux that is on the lighter, fresher, cleaner, brighter and perhaps slightly stern, or classic side of the style range. The wine is produced in a traditional style and shows a little more in the aromatics than the body. For the past few decades, the quality has greatly increased at the estate.

Tradition must be matched with enterprising intellect and the constant ambition for improvement. Recent investments in an entirely new winery and significant upgrades to machinery mark a concerted effort to improve quality. Experimentation in the vat room and cellar ensures that the estate is also at the cutting edge of modern winemaking. Staying true to the estates legacy and the highest respect for terroir is a top priority at Bran-Cantenac. Despite its many technological advancements, wine at Brane-Cantenac is made in the vineyard and their vineyards are stamped with the will of men: a tradition that began centuries ago and continues to be honored to this day.

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