Reports

A new Cabernet king at Château La Gaffelière?

If Cabernet Sauvignon is the ‘King of grapes’, then perhaps Cabernet Franc, rather than Merlot, can now claim to be the Dauphin

Words by David Kermode

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If Cabernet Sauvignon is the ‘King of grapes’, then perhaps Cabernet Franc, rather than Merlot, can now claim to be the Dauphin.

Change comes carefully when you’re the ninth generation to lead your family estate, one of the oldest in St Emilion. However, at Château La Gaffelière there has been something of a quiet revolution. Alexandre de Malet-Roquefort has overseen a significant replanting of his vines, ripping up Merlot and replacing it with Cabernet Franc.

It is, in part, a response to climate change, with the latter grape considered to give more freshness to the blend, but it also undeniably helps deliver wines more in tune with the times, with accessibility and charm.

At a London tasting ‘masterclass’, held jointly with Domaines Delon at 67 Pall Mall, Malet-Roquefort said the move would “prepare the chateau for the tenth generation”, by effectively future-proofing the blends, insisting “We have to adapt”. He also spoke about the “big challenge” of keeping a Bordeaux estate in family hands, fending off takeover interest.

If one grape, Cabernet Franc, appeared to be in the ascendant on the Right Bank, at Château La Gaffelière, then the vertical tasting suggested that another, Petit Verdot, was slowly vanishing from the blend on the Left Bank, at Château Léoville Las Cases.

The tasting also offered those present a chance to sample the diversity of the four Delon estates, from Château Potensac in the north of Médoc to Château Léoville Las Cases and Clos du Marquis in Saint Julien and Château Nénin in Pomerol.

Wines tasted

Château La Gaffelière, Clos La Gaffelière, 2016

Score
91
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2021
  • To 2025
  • RRP £28.33
  • Dark
  • Dense
  • Tannic
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, Clos La Gaffelière, 2015

Score
92
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2021
  • To 2025
  • RRP £26.67
  • Delicate
  • Elegant
  • Floral
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 1998

Score
92
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2019
  • To 2020
  • RRP £61
  • Seductive
  • Smoky
  • Thyme
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 2006

Score
91
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2019
  • To 2022
  • RRP £55
  • Balanced
  • Earthy
  • Silky
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 2008

Score
91
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2019
  • To 2023
  • RRP £71.67
  • Bright
  • Elegant
  • Juicy
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 2010

Score
92
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2023
  • RRP £104.17
  • Cherry
  • Polished
  • Smoky
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 2014

Score
92
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2024
  • RRP £60.83
  • Fresh
  • Juicy
  • Silky
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 2015

Score
94
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2021
  • To 2025
  • RRP £73.33
  • Approachable
  • Floral
  • Smooth
Learn More

Château La Gaffelière, 2016

Score
93
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2021
  • To 2025
  • RRP £70.83
  • Blackberry
  • Eager
  • Silky
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Chateau Nénin, 2009

Score
90
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2022
  • RRP £80
  • Blackcurrant
  • Fruity
  • Smooth
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Chateau Potensac, 2014

Score
88
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2021
  • To 2025
  • RRP £19.42
  • Firm
  • Fleshy
  • Green
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Clos Du Marquis, 2008

Score
90
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2022
  • RRP £58
  • Approachable
  • Delicate
  • Smooth
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Clos Du Marquis, 2003

Score
93
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2022
  • RRP £54
  • Dark chocolate
  • Plum
  • Polished
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Le Petit Lion Du Marquis De Las Cases, 2009

Score
91
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2024
  • RRP £87
  • Generous
  • Grippy
  • Rounded
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Grand Vin de Léoville Las Cases, 1998

Score
94
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2023
  • RRP £131
  • Fresh
  • Precise
  • Structured
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Grand Vin de Léoville Las Cases, 2003

Score
93
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2022
  • RRP £130
  • Deep
  • Herby
  • Rich
Learn More

Domaines Delon, Grand Vin de Léoville Las Cases, 1989

Score
87
100
Médoc & Haut Médoc
  • From 2019
  • To 2019
  • RRP £148
  • Smooth
  • Soft
  • Spicy
Learn More

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