Henri Lurton’s fine estate is so often overlooked, but history shows this has as good an aging potential as any wine in the Médoc. A really superb example, not flashy in any way, but wonderfully pure and defined. As always it has great balance and poise, with subtle blackcurrant fruits, structured tannins and is deliciously understated all round. A must buy in my book, based on both price and quality.
The Château Brane-Cantenac 2014 is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc, representing 38% of the total crop. It was picked between 22 September commencing with the Merlot up until 9 October finishing with the Cabernet Sauvignon. Yields came in at 44.8 hectoliters per hectare. It has a very typical nose for this Margaux estate: understated and reserved at first, touches of ground-up stone intermixed with brambly red berry fruit and damp undergrowth scents. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins. There is moderate weight in the mouth, plenty of sous-bois character and a touch of graphite (à la Pauillac) leading to a tapered but sustained finish. This is your straight-down-the-line classic Brane-Cantenac, unashamedly classic in style, what you might call "good old fashioned claret." Never the beauty queen at primeur, my remarks reflect how this Margaux blossoms in bottle.
Dark, fairly evolved crimson. Sweet, light, a bit simple and green. This is the sort of casually made wine that gets classed growths a bad name – though of course it may not be a classed growth!? (It is.) Drink 2018-2026
A gentle, elegant style, with pretty lilac, red currant and cherry notes, lined with a liberal savory hint that lingers through the sandalwood-edged finish.
A solid core of fruit here with lots of cabernet character, as well as currants and blueberries. Full to medium body. Chewy tannins, yet polished and refined.
The 2014 Brane-Cantenac is a striking, wonderfully complex wine with a lot going on. Powerful at the outset yet also quite floral almost to the point of being exotic, the 2014 is certainly not lacking in nuance or personality. Hints of orange peel, mint, white flowers and berries open up gradually in a wine of understatement. The firm tannins add energy and convey an overall impression of classicism, while tobacco, iron and smoke punctuate the powerful, expressive finish. This is going to be a fascinating wine to follow over the coming years and decades. Tasted twice.
Lovely fragrance, the class evident from start to the finish. Very Brane-Cantenac: floral, great finesse, elegant persistence and a good future. Drink: 2019-2034
A very pretty nose is spiked with juicy oak and berries and it relaxes into a sleek, well-balanced palate and a long, even finish. This is a well made wine and one which is almost in true balance. The blackberry theme is mouth-watering and the finish is savoury and not harsh. Well made and in need of a few years to soften this wine could warrant another half a point if it manages to build its flavours as the tannins melt. I am not usually a fan, but 2014 Brane-Cantenac shows a decent degree of flair.
Château Brane-Cantenac is owned by a branch of the largest winemaking family in Bordeaux, the Lurtons. It was, however, originally created by the owner of Mouton Rothschild, Baron de Branne. After years of variable quality, it started improving in the late 1990s and began to create wines which captured Robert Parker's attention. He described Château Brane-Cantenac as "one of the stars of Margaux, if not Bordeaux" and their 2003 as "one of the best bargain-priced classified growths".
Plump, silky and seductive are the words often used to describe wines from Margaux. Because of their style, they tend to be user friendly and more approachable when young. This is in part due to its terroir which is comprised of the thinnest soil as well as the highest proportion of chunky gravel in all of the Médoc. It drains well but also is it more susceptible to vintage variation. Margaux wines tend to have the highest proportions of Merlot within the core of the Médoc further adding to their ample roundness and openness. Margaux is home to the largest number of classified growths including its namesake first growth, Château Margaux, as well as third growths, Palmer and d'Issan.