2023 Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Bordeaux

2023 Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Bordeaux

Product: 20238003243
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2023 Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Bordeaux

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Blend: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenere. 

The 2023 vintage was the second warmest on record here, yet the wine is elegant and fresh with no signs of excessive heat. Perhaps thanks to the favourable soils on the plateau and their ability to help the vines deal with hydric stress. The nose is bright with layers of sweet red fruits, rose petal and violet. The round, creamy palate turns into darker cassis and blackcurrant, balanced with good acidity. Despite the highest tannin level ever documented, they are already so well integrated. This is a very strong showing indeed and no doubt one of Margaux’s standouts. 

Drink 2030 - 2052

Our score: 17.5/20

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Critics reviews

Jane Anson96/100

Harvest September 14 to October 2. 3.59ph.

A great aromatic hit on the opening beats, giving way to silky tannins, spiced plum, rhubarb and slate, cassis and bilberry fruit, all showing depth and intensity. Such an accomplished wine, once again showing how it's done. 100% new oak for malolactic and ageing, 8 coopers, 28 different toasts. 45.7hl/h yields, which is generous for this vintage in the Margaux appellation.

Drink 2032 - 2050

Jane Anson, Inside Bordeaux (April 2024)

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Neal Martin, Vinous93-95/100

The 2023 Brane-Cantenac was picked from September 4 to October 2 at 45.7hL/ha with the highest IPT (Indice de Polyphénols Totaux, a measurement of tannin) ever with respect to the Merlot, which underwent some saignée in tank

Matured entirely in new oak, it has wonderful delineation on the nose, quite floral with pressed violets infusing the lifted black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with a silky-smooth entry and a silver bead of acidity. Pure black fruit infused with graphite lends this Pauillac-like attributes, sustained on the finish, as usual. This is a very classical Brane-Cantenac— a worthy follow-up to the 2022. 

Drink 2029 - 2050

Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2024)

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Antonio Galloni, Vinous94-96/100

Tasted two times

The 2023 Brane-Cantenac is a sensual, silky wine. There’s plenty of depth and structure behind that, but the first impression is most definitely one of elegance. Crushed flowers, spice and dried herbs meld into a core of super-expressive, dark, red-toned fruit. The 100% new oak is impeccably balanced within the wine’s frame. Brane-Cantenac remains one of the best relative values in Bordeaux, or anywhere, for that matter. This is a fine effort from proprietor Henri Lurton and his team.

Drink 2033 - 2063

Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (April 2024)

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Wine Advocate93-95/100

The 2023 Brane-Cantenac is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot (which saw some saignée), 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Carmenère and 1% Petit Verdot, and it completed its malolactic fermentation in barrels as has been the rule at this estate since the 1990s. Offering up aromas of dark cherries, cassis and spices framed by creamy new oak, it’s medium to full-bodied, rich and fleshy, with a creamy core of fruit and a long, gently lactic finish.

Having grafted over Merlot vines to Cabernet Sauvignon, Henri Lurton and his team are now able to craft a balanced blend derived solely from the plateau of Brane, the estate’s finest terroir, and that has brought more mid-palate depth and volume to the wines. The 2023 vintage delivered an abundant fruit set, so the team conducted extensive crop-thinning to balance the vines. The resulting wines are quite serious, with analytically high levels of tannin, though the estate’s use of 100% new oak, with malolactic in barrique, for the grand vin has contributed some youthful creaminess out of the gates, even if I sometimes think that comes at the expense of a little precision.

William Kelley, Wine Advocate (April 2024)

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Jancis Robinson MW17/20

77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Carmenère. Cask sample.

Good depth of fruit marked by the Cabernet. Cassis and mint aromas. Fine, linear and long, the tannins are polished and integrated. Really quite refined.

Drink 2030 - 2045

James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (May 2024)

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James Suckling95-96/100

This shows very pretty fruit and ultra-fine tannins that have an almost al-dente sense to them. It has a medium to full body, fine tannins and a fresh, vivid finish. The tannin quality is exceptional.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (May 2024)

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Ageing 18 months, 100 new oak. 13.7% press wine. 40% grand vin production.

Very aromatic, gorgeous florality on the nose, so inviting and welcoming. Really open and generous - roses, violets, peonies, red cherries and strawberries. Supple and juicy, instantly quite pretty and fun, a lively bright aspect to the red fruits - cranberry, crisp green apple, raspberry and strawberry then the fine tannins come into play and give the structure and the focus to the finish. It’s a little less plush than Brane is normally - usually more gentle, fleshy and smooth - this is a little two-toned with influence from the new oak in the tightness but there’s great potential here. Feels a bit more like a St-Julien expression - calm, relaxed, smooth, intentional, juicy and lifted. Less charming right now, more tense and precise.

Drink 2032 - 2048

Georgina Hindle, Decanter.com (April 2024)

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Jeb Dunnuck95-97/100

Tasted twice

Readers looking for one of the hidden gems in the vintage should jump on the 2023 Château Brane-Cantenac, an incredibly impressive Margaux that does everything right. Cassis, graphite, violets, lead pencil, and leafy tobacco notes all emerge on the nose, and it's medium to full-bodied on the palate, with classy, integrated oak, flawless balance, and fine tannins. I love its overall purity, as well as its balance, and it should need just 4-5 years of bottle age to show its potential.

Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2024)

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About this WINE

Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Château Brane-Cantenac was for many years the home of Lucien Lurton - it is now owned and run by his son Henri. Its vineyards are located west of the village of Cantenac in the Margaux appellation. Brane-Cantenac's vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Merlot (40%), Cabernet Franc (4.5%) and Carmenère 0,5%,  and lie on fine, gravelly soils. Vinification includes up to 18 months' wood ageing, a third to a half in new `barriques'.

Brane Cantenac was perceived throughout much of the 70s and 80s as an underperforming property. Since Henri took over, there has been extensive investment in the cuverie and chai, as well as vastly improved vineyard management techniques. Consequently, the wines at Brane Cantenac now show more weight and concentration, although they still possess that haunting bouquet and quintessential elegance that characterise the wines of Margaux. It is classified as a 2ème Cru Classé.

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If Pauillac can be seen as the bastion of ‘traditional’ Red Bordeaux, then Margaux represents its other facet in producing wines that are among Bordeaux’s most sensual and alluring. It is the largest commune in the Médoc, encompassing the communes of Cantenac, Soussans, Arsac and Labaude, in addition to Margaux itself. Located in the centre of the Haut-Médoc, Margaux is the closest of the important communes to the city of Bordeaux.

The soils in Margaux are the lightest and most gravelly of the Médoc, with some also containing a high percentage of sand. Vineyards located in Cantenac and Margaux make up the core of the appelation with the best vineyard sites being located on well-drained slopes, whose lighter soils give Margaux its deft touch and silky perfumes. Further away from the water, there is a greater clay content and the wines are less dramatically perfumed.

Margaux is the most diffuse of all the Médoc appelations with a reputation for scaling the heights with irreproachable wines such as Ch. Margaux and Ch. Palmer, but also plumbing the depths, with too many other châteaux not fulfilling their potential. There has been an upward shift in recent years, but the appellation cannot yet boast the reliability of St Julien. However, the finest Margaux are exquisitely perfumed and models of refinement and subtlety which have few parallels in Bordeaux.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Margaux, Ch. Palmer, Ch. Brane-Cantenac, Ch. Rauzan-Ségla , Ch. Dufort-Vivens, Ch. Ferrière, Ch. du Tertre, Ch. Giscours, Ch. d'Angludet.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

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