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Château Cantemerle 2008 (5th Growth) - The Forgotten Grand Cru - or a Bordeaux with controversy?

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Château Cantemerle

The Forgotten Grand Cru - or a Bordeaux with controversy?

Château Cantemerle is located in Haut-Medoc, the very south end of Medoc. Medoc is the region known for the so called "Left Bank" wines in Bordeaux, divided up in 8 sub-regions, also called appellations. The classification system in Bordeaux is rather complex, compared to other wine regions around the world. Like everywhere, there are table wines with not much of requirements to meet. A limited amount of requirement, yet rather low-end wines have the label "AOC Medoc", moving up, we see Cru Bourgeois, these wines start to be of relatively decent quality and can use some serious aging. The label Cru Bourgeois was created during the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Later in the 2000's Cru Bourgeois was re-categorized into Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux Supérieurs, and the highest quality level Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels (only 9 estates made it to this level). Sounds complicated enough yet? Well, I hope not, because now we are getting to the infamous "Grand Crus". As this is an article about the left bank, I will only be getting into the left bank Grand Cru specifications, and leave the right bank for some other time when talking about a wine made in the right bank.

So I mentioned all the lower classifications. All Grand Crus (61 wines) are again sub-categorized into "growths", from "First Growth" (Premiers Crus), to "Fifth Growth" (Cinquièmes Crus), where a wine needs to meet specific requirements be be called so. While I dont want to make this even more complicated than it already is, all Grand Crus are sub-categorized into the 8 sub-regions of Medoc, but let's keep that aside for now. All that matters for now is that Grand Crus are the wines of highest quality and they are divided up by the 5 growths.

Château Cantemerle is one of 18 wines part of the Cinquièmes Cru, so 5th Growth Grand Cru. A Grand Cru, but the lowest quality of the 5 growths, making it still affordable today, while First Growth wines are generally $1000+ per bottle!

While some say the estate dates back to the 1100's, the first actual vintage of Château Cantemerle is known to be 1854 when is was sold as such. The chateau is 470 acres of land, of which 222 are used to grow grapes. 50% of the grapes they grow are Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verot with an average age of the vines (grape plants) of 30 years, which is relatively old. Generally 25,000 cases - 300,000 bottles are produced per year.

Here below is a map of the Left Bank, known as Medoc with its 8 sub-regions. You can read more about the region here: (n.d.). Médoc appellation: Structured red wines. Retrieved April 06, 2021, from


In the past Château Cantemerle has been questioned about being a fifth growth. To their own surprise, Château Cantemerle was not considered to be a part of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux in the initial publication. After a lot of effort from the Chateau, the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux was adjusted in 1856, and since then included Château Cantemerle as a Fifth Growth Grand Cru. Adjusting this classification is not something that typically happens - ever. Since 1856 and the addition of Château Cantemerle, is was just adjusted one other time - in 1973. In 1973 the well known Château Mouton Rothschild was moved from a Second Growth to a First Growth Grand Cru. As these classification really don't ever change, the addition of Château Cantemerle was erroneously questions ever since, but time goes on, even the harshest critics have accepted this to be a Bordeaux Grand Cru.


Cantemerle soil consists of silica and gravel. On average the vines are aged 30 years, which allow the roots to dig deep into Earth to get the necessary nutrients that the topsoil lacks. The grapes are selectively handpicked and hand-sorted. The sorting process consists of sixteen people divided on four tables filtering out leaves and other debris. The grapes are then sent to be destemmed and crushed. In between the destemmer and crusher is another table set up to remove all undesirable vegetal matter by hand to ensure the quality of the wine.

Château CANTEMERLE. (n.d.). Château CANTEMERLE: GALLERY. Retrieved April 07, 2021, from

Once the grapes have been crushed, the fermentation and maceration begin. This process takes between 28 and 30 days. A third of this period is dedicated to fermentation and the rest to maceration. Extended maceration refers to the practice of leaving red wine in contact with skins, stalks and seeds after fermentation has finished in order to optimize the flavor and color. This maceration process helps to leach tannins, anthocyanins (responsible for color) and flavor compounds from the crushed grapes. Cantemerle likes to describe their process more as an ‘infusion’.

The vats at Cantemerle are quite diverse. Truncated cone in oak, cylindric in stainless steel and cubic in cement. This is not by chance. The stainless steel vats are used primarily for the vinification of grapes from younger vines to preserve varietal aromas. The young grapes are used to produce the domain’s second wine, “Les Allees de Cantemerle”. The wooden and cement vats are better suited to the vinification of grapes from the mature vines. These grapes are used for Cantemerle’s great wine, “Château Cantemerle”.

Château CANTEMERLE. (n.d.). Château CANTEMERLE: GALLERY. Retrieved April 07, 2021, from

Devatting is done selectively by layer. After the run off, the top of the cap (dry skins) and the bottom (sediment) are removed and only the finest phenolic elements are pressed. The wine has 16 months of aging after being pressed. For 12 of those months, the wine spends it’s time in barrels of French oak (225 liters of soft medium toast), 35% of which are new. The powerful tannins are gradually softened in contact with the elegant components of the 200-year-old oak. The wine is clarified in vats where it rests for four months before it’s bottled. The domain produces 600,000 bottles, of which, on average, “Château Cantemerle” represents 50% of the total harvest.

This wine is tightly-knit with a deep purple color that suggests power and strength. It has a well-rounded structure. Ripe blackberry, soil and cigar on the nose. Tasting notes of cassis, dark cherry, plum, graphite, and licorice. Chocolate and earth linger on the after taste. A medium body and smooth texture with excellent balance.


Since last week's 2008 Oreno promo was so extremely popular and even sold out, we decided to do another promotion this week!

This week, we decided to bring the 2008 Château Cantemerle closer to you and more accessible. With a very interesting background story, a Grand Cru from Bordeaux with good age to it. As many of our guests start to become more knowledgeable, wanting to learn more than just Tunscany wines, we are convinced that this surely is a wine not to miss, that is why it is 25% OFF for dine in this week! (April 7th 2021 until April 12th 2021)

Just like last week, we also have a 10% promo code for our online wine retail website

Use the promo code "CC10" for all available vintages of Chateau Cantemerle available

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