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A new approach starting in 1985
Stephan von Neipperg totally redefined viticulture and winemaking at Canon La Gaffelière, succeeding in reflecting the very best of what the estate has to offer. The present richness and concentration of its wines place Canon La Gaffelière among the top crus classés of Saint Emilion - which was exactly its position in the 1940s.
For quite some time, this siliceous terroir suffered from a fairly mediocre image.
However, clay and sand soil is by no means bad! Everything depends on how you grow the grapes. A common error is to over-fertilise such well-filtered soil. In the early 60s, the use of chemical fertilisers was widespread, largely with a view to increasing production. The prevalent winemaking philosophy at the time found this perfectly acceptable.
Unfortunately, though, wines from this period were lacking in structure. In addition, excess nitrogen created a serious, long-lasting imbalance in the relationship between the vines and the soil. Firmly packed, and deprived of oxygen and micro-organisms, the soil lacked the necessary health and dynamism for deep rooting and quality wine production. This explains why Canon La Gaffelière was so lacklustre after 1964. The wines were weak and lacked complexity.
In Bordeaux, the heat resulted in early flowering. Also, this led to an early harvest after a very hot summer. As a starting point, there is great maturity in the grapes, and one can expect a more opulent vintage than in the last few years.
The summer this year has been the warmest since 1959, yet the rain has fallen at the right times during the growing season. The harvest took place two weeks before the norm and will yield grapes with high potential alcohol and the lowest acidity since the 2003 vintage. As they say in Bordeaux: "It has been a good and extreme growing season which hopefully also produces great wines".