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Château Pontet-Canet
Château Pontet-Canet is the wine that everyone should know about. It is big, bold and powerful and makes a mockery of its Fifth Growth classification. Today, Pontet Canet is one of, if not the most, popular Bordeaux wine distributed worldwide. Wine guru Robert Parker gave both the 2009 and 2010 a perfect score of 100 points, provoking a mini-crash in the investable wine market. And yet it was virtually unheard of until 1994. So, how did a typical Bordeaux blend gain such a reputation in such a short amount of time?
Horsing around
The answer is simple. Very simple in fact - Pontet Canet has gone back to see the future. Vineyard owner Alfred Tesseron began testing biodynamic farming in 2004 and the results were so successful, he turned the entire vineyard over to traditional methods in 2005. The vineyard is now one of only two Bordeaux wine estates to operate 100% organically, with Pontet Canet also hand harvesting, as well as using horses rather than tractors to plough the soil. And because the horses never step in the same place twice, the soil gets a tremendous amount of oxygen, which encourages root strength. “The sound of horse hooves in the vineyard has only just begun,” he says, somewhat poetically. The gravelly soil might be hugely healthy, but yield at Pontet Canet is low, averaging just 20,000 cases a year.
But what does this mean in terms of investability?
Because of Tesseron’s forward (or backward) thinking, Pontet Canet is now considered one of the most prestigious properties in Pauillac, and would undoubtedly be promoted to a Super Second should classification take place today. In 2016 Liv-Ex classed the wine 24th in the Bordeaux wine classification. The vast improvement in grape quality after turning over to organic farming means that 90% of the grapes are made into the Grand Vin, with just 10% making up the second wine Les Hauts de Pontet Canet. To put this into perspective, neighbouring first growth Mouton Rothschild allocated 49 per cent of its crop to its Grand Vin in 2012 while only 40% of Haut-Brion’s made it for the same year. The increasing popularity of Pontet Canet is illustrated with the example of opening prices for the 2009 vintage doubling that for the 2005.
Notable facts and vintages
  • Average Robert Parker Wine Advocate score beats that of First-Growth neighbour Mouton Rothschild in recent years.
  • Both 2009 and 2010 Château Pontet-Canet received Robert Parker Wine Advocate “perfect score” of 100, noting of the latter “An absolutely amazing wine. Is there anything that proprietor Alfred Tesseron is not doing right?”
  • Château Pontet-Canet failed to prevent mildew from seriously scaling back 2018 yields; the fact that Tesseron’s team was able to produce any wine at all exemplifies their dedication to making fine wine using biodynamic practises, and scarcity might be one of the few reasons investors look to this particular, less than ideal vintage.