Monday, January 14, 2013

Drinking the Wines of Stephane Derenoncourt at Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere in St. Emilion, Bordeaux, and at Boxwood Vineyard in Virginia, USA

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Rachel Martin, Boxwood Winery, in Virginia, USA and with Count Stephan von Neipperg at Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere in St. Emilion, Bordeaux

I recently tasted some wines of Count Stefan von Neipperg at Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere in St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France and I tasted some wines Boxwood Vineyard in Virginia, USA. Both wines are made with the advice of Stéphane Derenoncourt, a famous consultant who now plays in the same league as Michel Rolland. Although I have tasted his wines, I have not yet met him in person.

Stéphane Derenoncourt

Stéphane and Christine Derenoncourt started their consultancy company - Vignerons Consultants – in 1999. Vignerons Consultants now works with a populous portfolio of estates in Bordeaux, including Domaine de Chevalier, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Smith Haut Lafitte and Prieuré-Lichine. Other Derenoncourt projects abroad include engagements in Italy, Austria, Spain, Turkey, China, India, in Syria with Domaine de Bargylus, and in Beqaa Valley, Lebanon with Château Marsyas.

In the US, they work – in addition to Boxwood Vineyard in Virginia – with Francis Ford Coppola’s  Rubicon Estate Winery in the Napa Valley.

Stéphane and Christine Derenoncourt also own Domaine de l'A in the Côtes de Castillon and Derenoncourt California in Napa Valley.

Jointly with wine merchant François Thienpont, they have created the negociant company Terra Burdigala.

Stéphane Derenoncourt is an entirely self-taught Normandy steel mill worker's son. His career in viticulture began when he arrived as a hitch-hiker in Fronsac in 1982. 14 years later, in 1996, he was hired as a winemaker by Stephan von Neipperg to his estates, including Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte.

Boxwood Winery in Virginia

The Boxwood Winery is located in Middleburg in the midst of picturesque Loudoun County in Virginia in the US. It is owned by John Kent Cooke, a former owner and president of the NFL Washington Redskins. Boxwood aims high: to make premium red wines with Bordeaux grape varieties and a distinct Virginia expression. Boxwood produces 5,000 cases per year.

Picture: Boxwood Winery

16 acres of grapes are planted on the property. The vineyard is monitored by a GPS custom designed system to record viticultural practices. Currently, 8 varieties of grapes grown: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Malbec, and Carmenere.

Rachel Martin

Rachel Martin, Executive Vice President of the winery and the owners’ daughter, oversees the vineyard, winery, and national and international sales. No stranger to the wine business, Rachel studied Viticulture and Enology at Napa Valley College and Sensory Evaluation at the University of Bordeaux (School of Enology).

Picture: Rachel Martin

Rachel is Boxwood’s world ambassador and her relaxed and inviting presence immediately put guests as ease. “We want Virginia wine to be on the international playing field,” she enthuses, but notes, “You’ve got to start at home. You have to increase your quality for your local consumer.”

Rachek established the contact with Stephane Derenoncourt, while she was studying in Bordeaux.

The Wine Portfolio of Boxwood Winery

Here are the Boxwood wines, made with the advice of Stephane Derenoncourt.

2010     Boxwood Rose - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon 35% Merlot

Bright salmon color, aromas of strawberry, melon and white pepper. A rose' wine with a great complexity and balance between fruit and spice. The finish is fresh with ample length.

2010     Topiary Rose - Cabernet Franc 75% Merlot 25%

Light salmon color, aromas of strawberry, spice and dried herbs. A dry rosé wine with a luscious texture and complexity of fruit. The finish is of melon and spice with ample length.

2009     Topiary - Cabernet Franc 64% Merlot 35% Malbec 1%

Garnet in color, complex and intense nose of strawberry, savory garden herbs and spice aromas. The wine is ready to drink with soft tannins and a pronounced mid-palette followed by a long finish of strawberry and spice flavors

2009     Boxwood - Cabernet Sauvignon 56% Merlot 40% Petit Verdot 4%

Deep purple color, predominant aromas of blackberry, cigar box, with additional complexity of sweet basil, tarragon, anise, and violet. Concentrated tannins on platte with a long and intense finish of dark fruits

2009     Trellis - 75% Petit Verdot 17% Cabernet Sauvignon 8% Merlot

Dark purple color, intense nose of violet, graphite, mineral character. The mineral characteristics show on the palette, with ripe tannins and a lingering finish.

See more:
Boxwood Winery in Virginia: Lunch with Wine Makers Rachel Martin and Adam McTaggert in the Chai between the Tanks – TasteCamp 2012 East Kick-Off, USA

Château Canon La Gaffelière in Saint Emilion

One of the highlights of a recent tour of Bordeaux was a morning with Count Stefan von Neipperg in St. Emilion at Château Canon La Gaffelière. Count Stefan was in a very good mood this morning and had plenty of reasons to be so: Château Canon La Gaffelière and La Mondotte were promoted to the extremely closed circle of Premiers Grand Crus Classés in the new St. Emilion classification on that day.

The von Neipperg family not only owns these two estates in France, but also owns/co-owns 6 other estates as well as a property in Bulgaria. Furthermore, in Germany, the brother of Count Stefan von Neipperg runs the family winery in Wuerttemberg.

The von Neipperg Family in Germany, Austria and France

Count Stefan von Neipperg hails from the German wine region of Württemberg where his family has maintained its existing vineyards since the 15th century and bottles its wine under the family label, Weingut des Grafen von Neipperg. In fact, the von Neipperg counts are descended from a noble line dating back to the Holy Roman Empire. The first record of the Count von Neipperg goes as far back as the 12th century.

Count Joseph Hubert von Neipperg branched out in 1971 and acquired 4 St. Emilion estates in 1971: La Mondotte, Château Canon-La Gaffelière, Clos de l'Oratoire, and Château Peyraud. Since 1984, Count Joseph Hubert’s son Count Stephan has been in charge of these 4 estates. Moreover, he expanded the family’s French holdings further and also entered into a joint venture in Bulgaria.
Since 1996, Count Stephan von Neipperg has been working with Stéphane Derenoncourt.

Les Vignobles de Comte Stephan von Neipperg

Here is a list of all Count Stephan von Neipperg estates.

La Mondotte

AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Premier Grand Cru Classé

The 4.5-hectare estate, founded in the 19th century, is situated on the most eastern plateau of Saint-Emilion and was purchased in 1971 by the family of the Counts of Neipperg, at the same time as the Château Canon La Gaffelière. Even though La Mondotte used to be in the shadow of Canon La Gaffelière as long as to the middle of the 1990ies, it has benefited to the same extent of the philosophy of Stephan von Neipperg and his teams.

Excellent hydric regulation encourages the vines to sink their roots deep into the soil. The superb sun exposure and fine natural drainage due to the steep slope make this a very early-maturing terroir. The vines are an average of 50 years old and the vineyard contains only premium grape varieties (75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc). Ripening, especially of Merlot, is almost invariably early and complete.

The recent admission of Château La Mondotte - which sixteen years ago used to be almost unknown on the market - in the extremely closed circle of Premiers Grand Crus Classés is extraordinary.

Château Canon La Gaffelière

AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Premier Grand Cru Classé

Château Canon La Gaffelière is located on the outskirts of the medieval town of Saint-Emilion, at the southern foot of the slope. The 19.5 hectare vineyard has a complex, outstanding terroir of clay-limestone and clay-sand soil. The topsoil is primarily sandy, increasingly so as one moves away from the slope. The vines, an average of 45 years old, are deeply rooted in the soil and absorb all the goodness in the terroir. They are mostly replaced individually rather than plot by plot (which maintains the average age). The last major replanting dates back to 1986.

Picture: Château Canon La Gaffelière

The mixture of grape varieties cultivated on the wine estate (55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) is rather untypical in comparison to the rest of the appellation. This identity, strongly influenced by Cabernet, gives the Canon La Gaffelière wines an outright complex character.

The appreciation of the Château Canon La Gaffelière in the classification of the Saint-Emilion appellation as Premier Grand Cru Classé was not really surprising, yet an overdue acknowledgement for Mr. Neipperg. Château Canon La Gaffelière has been being said by the market for two decades to be of Premier Grand Cru Classé quality; now the estate has gained the official status of its terroir’s intrinsic qualities and of the viticultural philosophy that has been being applied there for 25 years.

Clos de l'Oratoire
AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Grand Cru Classé

Château Peyreau
AOC Saint-Émilion

Château d'Aiguilhe
AOC Cotes de Castillon

Clos Marsalette
AOC Pessac-Léognan

Château Guiraud
AOC Sauternes
Premier Cru Classé 1855

Château Soleil
AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion

See more:
The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany

schiller-wine: Related Posting

Boxwood Winery in Virginia: Lunch with Wine Makers Rachel Martin and Adam McTaggert in the Chai between the Tanks – TasteCamp 2012 East Kick-Off, USA

Northern Virginia Magazine October 2012: Wine Recs from Local Winos

As Close as You Can Get to (French) Champagne at the US East Coast – Claude Thibaut and His Virginia Thibaut Janisson Sparklers at screwtop Wine Bar

Visiting Jennifer Breaux Blosser and Breaux Vineyards in Virginia, USA

Virginia Wines Shine in San Francisco - 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition, USA

Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Wine Classic 2012 - Results, USA

Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion - A Profile, France

A Glass of Bordeaux – What Else? – With Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos

Bordeaux Wines and their Classifications: The Basics

In the Wine Capital of the World: the City of Bordeaux, France

Château Brane-Cantenac, Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, Margaux – A Profile, France

Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

The 5 Premiers Grands Crus Chateaux en 1855 of Bordeaux, France

The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany

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