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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.
NEWS: BORDEAUX 2021 VINTAGE by Pros: What do the critics think?
Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “The 2021 Bordeaux turned out to be such a surprise. The weather conditions were difficult, and yet the best properties turned out magnificent and classic wines that will absolutely delight readers who appreciate freshness and energy. The restrained alcohols and mid-weight structures will remind readers of Bordeaux before the 2000s. The best wines offer a striking combination of old-school classicism with modern precision. The quality is inconsistent, however, so choosing carefully is essential. Still, there's a lot to love about 2021."
At the Wine Advocate, William Kelley was one of the first to publish his report on the vintage, with largely positive comments on the region's top estates. He underlines his thoughts by reminding his readers: “We may have lost the habit of tasting wines with a moderate alcohol level and a classic pH en primeur, but anyone who appreciates the great Bordeaux reference wines of the 1980s and 1990 should seriously think about what the 2021s might have to offer in 10-15 years. It’s a style of wine that could come from nowhere else. »
Matthew Jukes: “In many cases they can rightly be said to have triumphed over Mother Nature through their tenacity, experience and tireless work ethic, and the best wines are singular in their purity, freshness and their unusual resonance... If a château has a noble terroir, a fully dedicated team, cutting-edge technology (to sort clean, pure, ripe fruit from the weaker berries) and a slice of luck, then it doesn't there is no excuse not to make fabulous wine... This is a classic example of a vintage where each wine must be tasted individually... Suffice it to say, I have found some exquisite wines in 2021, and they are all pure, long, refreshing, perfectly elegant and refined, and the quintessence of the vineyard plots from which they were harvested.
Decanter's Georgie Hindle also notes the marked contrasts with recent blockbuster vintages: "It's not a big, opulent, sumptuous year [...] The heat and sunlight just haven't been enough to produce the sunny fruits, high alcohol and uber glamor on display in great vintages like 2016 and 2018. However, what we get instead is freshness and elegance, racy acidity, more spirits weak, balance where it is successful and a real sense of terroir and grape signatures in the glass. She also reminds us of the benefit of this more restrained style: “It is likely that they will present earlier consumption opportunities compared to more robust and mellow vintages. »
Jane Anson (who has the advantage of being based full-time in Bordeaux) had several ideas about who would inevitably be more successful in 2021. The first came down to the estate's resources: "It's undoubtedly a vintage which rewards estates that have a talented team of full-time collaborators who work in the vineyards throughout the year, and who know their terroir. It rewarded skillful and timely decision-making. Those who subcontracted vineyard work were at a disadvantage. » The best wines of the vintage revealed in his opinion: “Classic balance and lower alcohols. Malic acid levels were high at harvest, but after malolactic fermentation, pH and acidity levels were overall classically balanced, resulting in wines that were fruity and supple in texture. And finally, unlike vintages where all the hard work could be done in the vineyard, the complex work in 2021 only continued in the cellar, “Skillful winemaking. We have gotten into the habit of repeating that wine is made in the vineyard. This is of course still true, but in 2021 it was abundantly clear that the best wines are also sometimes made in cellars.
Honest Grapes: Let’s not forget the white ones either. The quality here is more consistent than the reds, and Jancis Robinson proclaims that "in general, the dry whites are brilliantly crisp, aromatic and well-defined with ample fruit, while the sweet whites are some of the best ever, though that most of them are produced in catastrophic quantities.” Haut Brion & La Mission produced sensational whites, among the “finest sets of dry whites since 2017” for William Kelley. Meanwhile, Georgie Hindle reports that "the whites are excellent and perhaps more consistent across the board, with plenty of freshness, vibrancy and clarity on the palate."