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Château de Camensac
With vines ranging from the north of Saint Estephe to Margaux in the south and a chateau west of Saint Julien and east of Medoc, if there was ever a pure Bordeaux product, Chateau Camensac is it. Yet, despite its pedigree - a fifth growth - Camensac has never enjoyed the success it should.
A Frenchman and a Spaniard to the rescue
This could be due to the fact that very little is known about Camensac’s history pre-1964. We know that the chateau itself is 18th century, that the name Camensac is Gascon in origin and that Jacques Merlaut, a French businessman and negociant, is responsible for Camensac’s resurgence in the latter half of the 20th-century. But that's about it. We also know that it was under Merlaut’s steerage that his friend and Spanish wine guru Enrique Forner became majority owner of the domaine.
A long rehabilitation project
Together, Merlaut and Forner set about bringing the near abandoned estate back to life. They did this by investing heavily in the (then) 10-hectare estate, renovating the vineyards first, followed by the winery. Then they purchased other parcels of neighbouring land, growing the estate to its current 75-hectares. Bordeaux most famous oenologist Emile Peynaud took the reins of the estate and Camensac’s “first” vintage was produced in 1966. Their final coup de grace was to invite Michel Rolland - wine consultant extraordinaire - to join the team and restore Chateau Carmensac’s product back to its former glory. This was done with typical Rolland panache and while he may have left the vineyard, his legacy lives on through Eric Boissenot.
Four become two
One of the changes made was to plant just two grape varieties - very unusual for a Bordeaux blend which usually features four. This has allowed Camensac to excel in its full-bodied, glorious red wine, rich in structure and depth. The 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot wine is densely planted to 10,000 feet per hectare (“even for our second wine” says owner Claire Villars-Foubet).
Good scores for an under the radar wine
Luckily for investors, Camensac has stayed off the radar for now. Production is varied - their website states that it can be from 200 bottles to 300,000. A good score (2 stars) from Le Guide Hachette des Vins for 2016’s offering, as well as an 89/100 aggregated critic score and low price (€31 in January 2020) makes Camensac a viable option for both your table and your cellar.
Notable facts and vintages
  • La Revue du Vin de France considers 2018 Chateau de Camensac quite possibly the estate’s greatest wine.
  • Chateau de Camensac’s vines are an average of 35+ years old (in 2020).
  • Chateau de Camensac produces three second wines: La Closerie de Camensac, Le Bailly de Camensac, and Second de Camensac.