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Our team's deep understanding of Brane-Cantenac is rooted in the meticulous analysis of the first vertical tasting(1996 to 2006) and the second vertical tasting (2000 to 2018), hosted by Owner Henri Lurton years back at the esteemed KCC Wine Society. Comparing this little write-up's 2017 and 2018 vintages was difficult, but our expertise allowed us to discern their unique qualities. Given the ripe and generous temperament of both vintages, Brane-Cantenac 2017 and 2018 are consistent:


  1. The 2017 and 2018 vintages of Brane-Cantenac are a deep ruby with a tight, narrow rim; they exude the aromas of strawberry and red cherry fruit, layered with tobacco and incense notes. The palate is a delightful blend of juiciness and roundedness, cut by a refreshing acidity that lends a cooler, brighter edge to the black fruit at the core. The oak is integrated but smoky, with hints of roasted coffee beans and bonfire. The finish is vibrant, juicy, long and savoury. The attack is complete, robust, and intense, leading to a highly structured mid-palate. Both vintages stay perfumy through our 'drinking'. The fruit profile turns even darker, with a long, leathery, liquorice, oaky finish.

  2. The last drop gives a smooth, silky, feminine tenderness(!) of true Cantenac character.

  3. Both vintages are formed from a blend of 74% cabernet sauvignon, 21% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot, with an ABV of roughly 13.5%


Turning to the 2017 vintage, Wine Enthusiast awarded it 96 points, describing the 'wood'(70% new) palpable, with firm tannins and dense black fruit. This indicates a wine with power, superb concentration, and generous blackberry fruits. JS awarded it 94, emphasizing the value of a tight, focused centre palate for this red with blackberries, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and smoke-medium to the entire body- with polished tannins and a juicy, lightly chewy mouthfeel. The wine's flavour profile is a delightful blend of these elements, creating a uniquely memorable experience.   


Regarding 2018, RP awarded it 95 and discussed the broad spectrum of nose and palate. He said there were aromas of mushroom, meat, bark, and iodine with blackberries and blackcurrants that follow through to an entire body with firm, creamy tannins that give structure and form to the wine. Tight on the finish; long and persistent with presence. As JS opined on the 2017 vintage, RP thought 2018 was drinking fine now. Lisa Perrotti-Brown awarded this 2018 vintage a 94. Deep garnet-purple coloured, 2018 gives up vibrant notions of baked black plums, stewed black cherries, and creme de cassis, with touches of Indian spices, chocolate mints, and liquorice. Medium to full-bodied, rich, spicy, and seductive. She said it has a firm frame of grainy tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and plentiful. Jeb Dunnuck awarded this 2018 vintage a score of 96+, emphasizing layers and seamless integration. He admits he is a fan of Brane Cantenac.


The vineyards of Chateau Brane Cantenac, situated on the gravel slopes, are some of the highest within the appellation Cantenac of MARGAUX. The soil depth, a crucial factor in grape quality, is relatively uniform, ranging from 30 to 36 feet. The wine is aged in oak for 18 months, using 70% new French oak, contributing to its unique flavour profile.




You're likely already a fan of Château Lascombes, but if you're open to exploring new vintages such as the 2017 and 2018, here are some captivating details you should keep in mind.


The 2017 and 2018 vintages embody a modern winemaking style characterized by impeccably balanced and silky tannins, complemented by delightful fruity notes of cassis, wild strawberry, and blackberry.


The 2018 vintage is particularly noteworthy, having garnered an impressive score of GG97, compared to GG95 awarded to the 2017 vintage, which signifies its outstanding quality and potential. The 2018 vintage boasts an alcohol content of 14% and delivers a truly unique tasting experience, featuring clean wood spice, sweet vanilla, and toasty hints of cigar box and mint. Conversely, the 2017 vintage, with a slightly lower alcohol content of 13%, entices an aromatic and floral character, displaying exquisite aromas of creme de cassis, spring flowers, and subtle barbecue smoke. It's almost impeccable to savour on its own.


Furthermore, the 2018 vintage offers a slightly denser and more refined structure, culminating in a longer, more satisfying finish. A recent dinner/tasting with friends convinced us that the 2018 vintage reigns were slightly superior, owing to its purity, structure, and length, making it a more versatile option for food pairings. Both vintages are undeniably delightful now, yet they hold the potential to evolve further with age, promising an even more profound and complex flavour profile in the years to come.


Heroes think alike. Specific tasting commentaries from a host of international tasters also highlight the vintages' modern elements, featuring balanced, silky tannins and fruity flavours such as cassis, wild strawberry, and blackberry. They are composed of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. The 2018 vintage received a score of GG97, while the 2017 vintage got GG95, indicating its exceptional quality and potential. The 2018 vintage has an alcohol content of 14% and offers a unique tasting experience with clean wood spice, sweet vanilla, and toasty hints of cigar box and mint. On the other hand, the 2017 vintage has a slightly lower alcohol content at 13%. It offers the charm of an even more aromatic and floral experience, with beautiful aromas of creme de cassis, spring flowers, and subtle barbecue smoke. The 2017 vintage is almost impeccable for drinking on its own. The 2018 vintage is slightly denser and offers a more refined structure with a longer finish. From our dinner/tasting with friends, we found that the 2018 vintage is slightly superior due to its purity, structure, and length, making it easier to pair with food. Both vintages are enjoyable now and have the potential to develop further with age, promising more complex flavours in the future.






The Chateau Belair 2007 St Emilion Grand Cru Classe is a wine with a distinct character. It has a deep, ruby colour with a medium rim. Initially, it had a subtle aroma of red fruit, but after about an hour, it revealed a captivating blend of dark berries, black cherries, dry violets, and mint aromas. Surprisingly, these fruity and floral notes harmonized well with complex tones of salt, lead pencil, truffle, spice, and mushrooms. The palate reflects the nose, showing tannins and a slightly lifted acidity in the finish, likely due to the cooler and rainy 2007 vintage. It has a reasonably good fruit length on the palate, typical of a St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe. The bouquet took some time to develop fully in the decanter. It is rated DD91.


In the Dubois-Challon, where this 2007 Chateau Belair bottle came from, with in-to-neck level, is a testament to its exceptional quality and longevity. This wine has aged gracefully, maintaining its unique characteristics and offering an excellent wine experience. The limestone from the central plateau parcels contributes to this 2007 Belair's freshness, minerality, and delicate, lingering aromatics. Simultaneously, the dense, blue clay of the slopes provides intensity, length, and a unique elegance to the wine. The composition is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, contributing to its remarkable nose and taste profile.


There is a scarcity of information about this wine, making it a true hidden gem. I recall stumbling upon a passage in an old-fashioned book on Bordeaux Chateaux by Robert Parker that this Belair is crafted in the traditional old style. The fruit from Belair of his period is always shy in red fruit. Still, the palate profile, mainly tertiary, constantly forms from a unique blend of dry tobacco, leather, tar, tea, mushroom, and minerality, a style reminiscent of a wine from a dirty, damp cellar.


Tracing its origins back to ancient Roman times, the vineyard of Château Bélair is not just a wine producer but a living testament to history. Isymbolizeses endurance and excellence, situated at the highest point of Saint-Émilion's famed limestone plateau. In 1952, Belair's acquisition of the contiguous cru, Château Magdelaine, renowned for the remarkable elegance of its wines, eventually formed Château Bélair-Monange. Château Bélair-Monange expresses the unique style of the most outstanding parcels of these two complementary terroirs, carrying forward a legacy that spans centuries.


Of course, this Belair 2007 will be entirely different in style from the later Belair Monange started by JP Meuix. Belair's distinctive, almost historical profile sets this wine apart and makes it a must-try for any wine enthusiast. Our perspective differs from many others, such as Robert Parke, as we appreciate this wine's unique characteristics and the story it tells through its taste and aroma.

This is a consolidation of the tasting and papers

written from 2006 to 2013. These write-ups had been with the orginal site Wine and Beyond, Yahoo, until the service stopped by Yahoo in September 2013.

 

For years I have been working with wines, either buying it, selling it to wine companies, lecturing and writing about it, and, not unimportantly, enjoying it with friends. If any of the articles on this site are worth reading it is due to my teachers, my mentors, my peers and friends, my students, and in particularly my editors who ignite in me a desire to communicate in wines.

 

Clinging to the trellis of wine, I started to get more and more involved with estates and winemakers, by supporting them with consultancy in communication and marketing. The more I spend my time outside Hong Kong, the more I sense a desire to be part of the international wine family.

 

Writing about wine represents a moment of reflection, curiosity, atitudes and a desire to analyse often hidden structures and history, in an effort to make the wealth of wine accessible to a targetted, and hopefully larger audience.

 

I am not sure if I can wine proivde more accessible to all through this blog. But I am sure to write in wine means being involved in wine and  to remain as impartial and objective as possible.

 

Kevin Tang.

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