CHÂTEAU PONTET CANET

2017 5ème Cru Classé Pauillac

EN PRIMEUR

Two samples. The first was faulty with yeast on the nose. The second sample was excellent. Lots of juice on the palate. Forest fruit - lots of flavour. There is a lovely floral character built into the cassis fruit. The tension from the acidity sucks the cheeks in giving this a linear but attractive feel. The finish is lengthy. Rating: 92 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Pontet Canet has a very ripe and pure, slightly high-toned bouquet with touches of iodine inflecting the black cherry and cassis fruit. There is a subtle floral aspect to this Pontet-Canet, more iris than violet. With aeration there are hints of graphite and crushed stone, some of its initial opulence ebbing away. The palate is medium-bodied with fine balance on the entry, slightly chalky tannin, a fine sense of energy and poise. On the two readings of this wine, this was perhaps the most difference. The mid-April tasting had a very similar nose however, the palate demonstrated far more backbone, linearity and mineralité, not to mention a sapidity that was not present in the showing at the end of March. Ah yes, that’s the Pontet I love. I expect this to land at the upper end of my banded score once in bottle. Tasted twice at the property. Drinking range: 2021 - 2040 Rating: 92-94 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2018)

Sweet and spicy on the nose and sweet and quite thick on the palate. Rounded and soft but not a huge amount of fruit flavour. Very nice spice, giving a slightly exotic character. Firm, compact, fresh. Spice is the thing here and a very natural chewy texture. With air more fragrant, a floral fragrance. Chewy, 'spicy' texture, well-balanced fruit and deeply textured. Distinctive.Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com (Apr 2018)

This is a very charming Pauillac with texture, rippling energy and undoubted finesse. It's deceptive, because the dark, luscious blackberry, bilberry, and damson notes are fairly fresh, with a luscious lipsmacking quality, but the tannins build over the palate. It almost tastes like a St-Julien rather than a Pauillac as they're so fine and elegant, but the Pauillac character becomes more apparent by the close of play - there's no hiding those swirling cassis, smoke and menthol notes. This has a really gorgeous tension and freshness without sacrificing concentration. They used brand-new concrete vats this year, designed by technical director Jean-Michel Comme's, for one-third of the crop. The concrete was made from sands and gravels extracted from the exact spot that the building containing them now stands, utilising geothermal heating and cooling, with as few metallic parts as possible and insulated with hemp. The wine will be aged in 50% new oak, 35% concrete vats and t15% in one-year-old barrels. They have made nearly no second wine again. Just 1% frost loss in 2017. The Merlot was harvested from 18 September, block by block over 10 days, then deleafed. The Cabernets were picked from 28 September through until 4 October. Drinking range: 2025 - 2038 Rating: 94 Jane Anson, Decanter (Apr 2018)

Described as a mix of his 2015 and 2016 by owner Alfred Tesseron, the 2017 Pontet-Canet is another tour de force from this estate that readers will be thrilled to have in the cellar. A blend of roughly 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, harvested between September 18 and October 4 (which is later than most), it will spend roughly 16 months in 50% new barrels, 35% in amphora and the rest in once-used oak. Gorgeous blueberries, crème de cassis, incense, and spring flower characteristics all soar from the glass of this inky-colored, medium to full-bodied, deep, beautifully concentrated 2017. It doesn’t have the sheer weight of the 2009, 2010, 2015, or 2016, yet it’s no lightweight and excels on its purity and balance. This is a classic Pauillac that will be approachable with 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for two to three decades. Rating: 94-96 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Apr 2018)

This is incredibly transparent and refined with blackcurrant, blueberry and mineral character. Full-bodied, layered and ethereal. Tannins have a crushed-stone character. Long and persistent. Rating: 96-97 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (Apr 2018)

Starts off high-pitched but fills out steadily, featuring red currant and crushed plum fruit carried by fresh acidity and a bright iron note. Reveals a lingering savory streak on the finish. Built on purity rather than density, with the minerality lingering. Rating: 90-93 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Apr 2018)

The 2017 vintage must have been heartbreaking for winemaker Jean-Michel Comme. While the vines at Pontet-Canet largely escaped the frost, those on his family's own property in in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, on the periphery of the Bordeaux vineyards, suffered total destruction. After what Jean-Michel described as an easy growing season, the picking began on September 18th with the Merlot, followed by the Cabernet Franc, then moving onto Cabernet Sauvignon on September 28th, finishing up on October 4th. The entire harvest was earlier than usual, and was picked block by block, starting with some deleafing to allow the sun to get to grapes, followed by manual picking. The vinification was gentle, with limited extraction, just pigeage once or twice a day to wet the cap. It was conducted largely in the estate's new 40-hectolitre vats, 22 of them, which are made of concrete but which include some vineyard sediments in their composition. Aromatically the nose is intriguing, showing a little of the dusty character that Pontet-Canet shows these days, along with notes of smoky fruit, confident cherry and a confit blackcurrant concentration. A fruit profile such as this is quite rare in this vintage, which has tended to produce cooler, fresher wines, even in those with rich fruit intensity. It has a lovely poise and balance on the palate, with a supple and sinewy substance, wrapped around a core of taut, fresh and very tight tannins. The raw material is clearly excellent, with a very tightly drawn structure, a lovely almost exotic ripeness of fruit, and some very fine-grained but intense tannins, Again though, there is that little roasted, confit note to the fruit popping up in the midpalate. Even so, the tannins, while very confident, melt into the wine, such is their tightly grained finesse, and it is only on the finish that their intense, grippy-velvet character shows though. A slightly more modern, ripe style of wine here in this vintage, but top class all the same. Rating: 94-96 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com (Apr 2018)

Pauillac Cinquième cru 1855 Such is the speed with which Pontet-Canet's star has risen of recent that it could almost feel as if it's a new estate bursting on to the scene. But it has a long history, in keeping with its noble neighbours, but a long history of under-achievement, a moniker it has only just shaken off. During the 18th Century, Jean-François de Pontet, and his descendants, built up a very healthy portfolio of vineyard in the Médoc. Those that they owned in St Julien were, eventually, disposed of but the large estate that they assembled in Pauillac was retained and has resisted the fragmentation that afflicted so many Médoc estates over the years. Consequently, at 80ha of vines in a 120ha estate, Pontet-Canet is one of the largest Cru Classé estates. By the time of the 1855 classification, despite being the neighbour of Mouton-Rothschild and Lafite, Pontet-Canet could "only" scrape 5th Growth status. Herman Cruse bought the run down estate in 1865 and, initially, put in the neccessary investment to realise the vineyard's potential. But, by the mid-20th Century, Pontet-Canet's production was mediocre at best. Salvation came when the Cruse family, beset with scandal, were forced to sell Pontet-Canet to a Cognac shipper Guy Tesseron in 1975. He, with his son Alfred, have, at last, allowed Pontet-Canet to blossom. It has taken a lot of work, a lot of investment, and a lot of time to perform the miracle but, since the mid-1990's, Pontet-Canet has produced wines of immense quality and longevity, much loved by Robert Parker and far exceeding 5th Growth status. Lying on a wide plateau of poor gravel soils, with Mouton Rothschild and d'Armailhac immediately to the north and the Carruades de Lafite vineyard to the west, Pontet-Canet is planted to 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The vineyards are farmed biodynamically, the first classed growth vineyard in the Médoc to do so. In keeping with that, they have eschewed tractors in favour of horses, who's hooves are kinder to the soil than tractor tyres. The Grand Vin spends 16 to 20 months in wood, of which 60% typically is new. There is a second wine - Les Hauts de Pontet Canet.

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