The Neipperg Portfolio, 2022
A number of my recent Bordeaux reports have thrown the spotlight onto the changing face of this region, with new owners, new managers and new technical directors appearing at a number of highly regarded properties. Here at the domaines of Stephan von Neipperg, however, the picture is decidedly different. For as long as I have known the wines of Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte, his two most prestigious properties, it has been Stephan at the helm. Not only the one man, but I am not sure that during that time – close to a couple of decades – Stephan has even aged. I am beginning to wonder if he may have a portrait hidden in the attic.
Indeed, perhaps the biggest change here during the past ten years was the promotion of his St Emilion estates in the 2012 classification. It was a story of unmitigated success; La Mondotte came from nowhere, an unclassified property elevated to the ranks of premier grand cru classé, while Château Canon-la-Gaffelière secured a well-deserved promotion to the same level from the grand cru classé ranks. Clos de l’Oratoire held its ground, in itself an achievement in a reclassification which saw several châteaux demoted. At this point I should perhaps offer some opinion on how these (and other) châteaux will fare in the forthcoming 2022 reclassification, but given the departure of Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc and now Château Angélus from the classification, I am beginning to question what this classification even means.
Putting these thoughts to one side, let us stick with Stephan (pictured above – admittedly not the most recent of pictures) and his various well-ranked châteaux. In this review of his latest releases, I taste through the wines of all four of his right-bank estates, including Château Canon-la-Gaffelière and La Mondotte of course, but also Château d’Aiguilhe and Clos de l’Oratoire. As with a number of other recent reports, I taste the four most recent vintages, a barrel sample of the 2020 in each case, followed by the 2019, 2018 and 2017 vintages from bottle.