Chateau Cantemerle

One of the oldest properties in the Bordeaux wine region

Chateau Cantemerle is the second of the first well-known Bordeaux estates, just after Chateau La Lagune. Chateau Cantemerle is also one of the oldest properties in the Bordeaux wine region. Historical documents listing the Lords of Cantemerle of La Sauve Majeur Abbey, can be dated all the way back to the 12th century. Although it did not begin to go under that name until 1340, when Ponset de Cantemerle changed the name of the estate.

Ponset de Cantemerle was the first person to cultivate the vineyards. This was a big step, because in those days, most of the land was used for planting wheat. By the 16th century, Chateau Cantemerle was devoted to the production of wine.

In 1855, when the classification of the Medoc took place, Chateau Cantemerle was accidentally left off the list of the classed chateaux. It was at the continued insistence of Madame Villeneuve-Durfort, that her property, Chateau Cantemerle be reinstated in the classification.It was quite a story at the time.
The short version being that until 1853, she sold all her own wine. So 1854 was the first vintage offered for sale by Negociants. She demanded they include Cantemerle in the classification, bringing 40 years of books proving her wine sold for as much, or more money than the other 1855 Fifth Growths!

The 108 hectare vineyard of Cantemerle has 92 hectares under vine, planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. There have been two shifts most recently in the vineyards. The amount of Cabernet Sauvignon has been increased, while the Merlot has been decreased by 5% each.

However, that is not the most drastic change to their vineyards. Until the late 1980’s, the vineyards of Chateau Cantemerle were planted with 24% Cabernet Franc! It was on the advice of Philippe Dambrine, the managing director of the estate until 2013, that the Cabernet Franc be reduced.

It is the goal of the estate to continue increasing the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in their vineyards over time. On average, the vines are close to 30 years of age. They have old Cabernet vines, which are close to 70 years of age.

The vineyard is planted to a vine density ranges from 8,400 vines per hectare to 10,000 vines per hectare. Interestingly, here, the younger vineyards are at the lower level of vine density, as the vines are being replaced, they are done at the 8,400 vines per hectare.

The terroir is mostly sand and gravel soils. The vineyard can be divided into 3 sections. Close to the chateau, you find soils with pebbles, small rocks, and dark, or black sand. To the east, close to the water tower, you find larger stones and gravel with sand.

As you head south, on the way to the city of Bordeaux, there you find more small rocks with white sand. All 4 grape varieties are planted in each vineyard. You can further subdivide this into 56 separate parcels. The estate’s best terroir is located close to chateau, in the northwest direction where you find Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of their vines are in 2 communes, Macau and Ludon-Medoc.

To produce the wine of Chateau Cantemerle, vinification takes place in a combination of 24 conical, shaped wood vats, 10 stainless steel tanks and 7 cement vats. The tanks vary in size from 100 hectoliters to 180 hectoliters for the wood vats, the cement and steel tanks are larger.

Malolactic fermentation takes place in vat. The young vines are always vinified in the stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in 40% to 50% new French oak barrels for between 12 to 16 months, depending on the vintage. There is a second wine, Les Allees de Cantemerle. The average annual production of Chateau Cantemerle is about 25,000 cases per year.  ( Source:
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