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Château Cantemerle

Philippe Dambrine

Château Cantemerle is a winery in the Haut-Médoc appellation of the Bordeaux wine region of France, in the commune of Macau. The wine produced here was the final estate to be classified as one of eighteen Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growths) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. 


Its absence from the classification map featured at the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris created some controversy, even though it has been listed on all maps published after 1855. Some sources will include an asterisk next to Château Cantemerle listing in reference to this controversy. The estate has a long history in the Haut-Médoc with records detailing its existence since at least the 12th century and wine production since at least the 14th century. In the 19th century, the estate was hard hit by the phylloxera epidemic as well as grapevine attacks of downy mildew, after which production dropped nearly 50%. Towards the end of the 20th century, the estate was sold to French insurance group Les Mutuelles d'Assurance du Bâtiment et des Travaux Public who have contributed significant investment in the estate's vineyards and winemaking facilities.


Today the Chateau owns 190 hectares of land and 90 of those are planted with vines. Of these, 87 are under production. The grape varieties cultivated 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. 


According to wine writer Tom Stevenson in The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, Château Cantemerle wines are characterized by rich, oaky, fruit flavors that balance well. The wines have good coloring for a classified Bordeaux wine and typically reach their peak between 8 and 20 years. The typical blend is a composition of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.

The Chateau annually produces on average 25,000 cases of its Grand vin, and 12,500 cases of its second wine, Les Allées de Cantemerle. Depending on the vintage, a third wine might also be produced-Baronne Caroline with a production between 5,000 and 10,000 cases.