Cantenac Brown appears to have toned down its wine-making a notch, and the result is much more successful. The colour is still inky black and the bouquet is dominated by cassis, graphite and noble wood spice notes. The palate is mid-weight with plenty of impressive crème de mûre and hedgerow fruit. It is rather sumptuous and sleek, with a cool fleshy character and well measured tannins.
Chateau Cantenac-Brown, located in the Haut-Medoc appellation and has 42 hectares of vineyards - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Under the direction of José Sanfins, the estate has begun promoting physical, chemical and biological practices that are environmentally friendly. The harvest in done by hand and then fermentation lasts about ten days with wines being aged in French oak barrels for 12 to 15 months. The red brick Chateau is reminiscent of an English prep school and looks somewhat out of place in Margaux. The recent vintages are without question impressive, but they have maybe lost their sense of place.
The wines tend to show more perfume and roundness than neighbour St-Julien, Pauillac, and St-Estèphe, whilst retaining a certain structure and concentration. Margaux is the most southerly and most extensive of the famous Médoc communes, a patchwork of vineyards with lesser parcels classed purely as Haut-Médoc. A myriad of soil mixtures can be found, clay, limestone, and gravel. Though quality is not always consistent here, the potential is great as more Margaux properties were included in the 1855 classification of the Médoc and Graves than any other appellation.
The two leading lights are the highly sought after Châteaux Margaux and Palmer, though there are several other solid performers including Brane-Cantenac, Rauzan-Ségla, Durfort-Vivens, Lascombes, Giscours, Ferrières, Malescot St Exupery and Luc Thienpont’s new boutique vineyard, Clos des Quatre Vents.