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La Mondotte dates back to the early 19th century. Cocks & Féret ("Bordeaux and its Wines"), mention it in their second edition in 1868. It is thus entirely untrue that La Mondotte was "created" in 1996, as one sometimes hears. During the 1996 revision of the Saint-Emilion Classification, the commission ruled that La Mondotte needed to have its own separate winemaking facility. Up until then, the wine was made at Château Canon La Gaffelière, albeit in a separate location. Major investments were made to satisfy the commission's requirement... for a 4.5 hectares vineyard !
In 1983, Joseph-Hubert von Neipperg asked one of his children to take charge of Canon La Gaffelière. At age 26, Stephan had a solid background in finance, management, and agronomy thanks to his education not only in Germany, but also in Paris and Montpellier. The time had come for this well-read young man passionately interested in history and classical music to focus his energies on his family's outstanding terroir in Bordeaux. Stephan von Neipperg spent the next two years becoming intimately acquainted with the estate. He discovered the countless operations necessary to make wine, "a unique and emotional product". He continues to perfect his mastery of the many facets of winemaking, from the vineyard to the cellar, as well as ageing in barrel and in bottle, and international sales and marketing. As opposed to other agricultural products, Stephan von Neipperg believes that "added value in wine is always rewarded". He therefore decided to take a path from which he has never since deviated: to make the most of his terroir and to adopt a long-term approach.
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).
All cellar practices at the Comtes von Neipperg estates are quality-oriented. Special care is taken during maceration so that extraction is as gentle and controlled as possible. The major challenge is to adapt extraction to the specific characteristics of each vintage. Both alcoholic fermentation and maceration take place in oak vats in order to develop maximum colour and flavour. Each vat is considered a separate entity and treated accordingly. The cap is punched down (pigeage) very slowly to avoid treating the grapes roughly. The philosophy behind all stages of winemaking is to make the most of the fruit and express the best from each vintage.
Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
Generally scheduled between the end of March and the beginning of April, Primeur Week in Bordeaux is always an exciting time because it allows a first glimpse of the latest vintage. The sheer number of wines available for tasting is impressive and a week almost seems short. This is why the Union de Grands Crus offers a well-organized blind tasting for the press every morning of the week. The previous weekend, the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux organizes blind tastings of more than 200 samples. These impressions are supplemented by tastings in different Châteaux and tastings organized by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore, some wines may be tasted twice or even more often during this week to check quality and style.
An interesting fact is the weather situation. Low weather pressure means wines can close, while high weather pressure presents wines in a more open and flavorful style. This year the wheat was pretty bad during the first few days of the tasting week, but improved a lot in the second half of the week. This had an influence on the tasting notes in general which must be taken into account. Another effect was the late harvest in 2014, which shortened the period between harvest and early tastings by up to a month. A month less time for maturation has effects on the tasting results, which is another aspect to consider, always keeping in mind that each tasting result remains a snapshot and is not an absolute judgment and definitive.
The year 2014 started early with bud burst about 10 days before the average of the last 10 years. At the end of May, flowering began on the first terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, while the later grape varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as the later terroirs benefited from a warm and sunny period at the beginning of June. July and August were quite cool and wet and in the second half of August the winegrowers prepared for an even worse vintage than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A splendid Indian summer in September and October saved the quality. The harvest began for the white grapes three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than in 2011. For the red grapes, the harvest began with the Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second fortnight of October. The cool climate during summer provides higher acidity, the Indian summer is responsible for good ripening.
The dry white wines are of very good quality showing crisp acidity and ripe flavors. Noble sweet white wines also benefit from the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore, this vintage looks more elegant. The presentation of red wines depends a lot on the grape varieties and terroirs. Overall, the red wines are at a higher level of quality than the previous three vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the limestone plateau and generally shows very good wines.
In Pomerol, the center of the plateau was advantageous over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc, the southern part turned out to be more heterogeneous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogeneous and excellent. South of Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogeneous image of a very good level of quality with exceptional wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One final observation: this vintage digests oak wonderfully. Oak is not even evident in wines with 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are about twelve months left for the maturation of the 2014s until bottling in 2016. A lot can happen during this period. Let's see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will again be a very interesting tasting. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
by Markus del Monego MW