During one of my recent trip I went to Bordeaux region – still not far from where I live most of the time, but I don’t go there often. I was invited to taste all the 2015 vintage wines by Millésima. A great event. The first evening we were invited to visit and have dinner at Chateau La Gaffeliere. It is one of the oldest, family-owned vineyards in the St. Emilion appellation of Bordeaux. We were welcomed there by Léo de Malet-Roquefort and his son, Alexandre de Malet-Roquefort who said they can track their history in the Right Bank all the way to the 1400’s. Léo & Alexandre are truly inviting and really love to share about their history and their wines. They told us so much about everything.
It is believed that in the 15th century, the Chateau of La Gaffeliere wasn’t a winery at the start. In fact, the chateau was probably used clearly for people affected by leprosy, a “gaffet” in Gascon meaning leper. Not as romantic as a wine estate you will tell me.
The beginnings of La Gaffeliere started with the arrival of the Comte de Malet-Roquefort in the 17th century. Already in the 18th century, Chateau La Gaffeliere was well known for producing high quality and fine wine in Saint Emilion. Later on in the history, the vineyard was divided and some of it became Canon La Gaffeliere.
At the beginning, the domain was named La Gaffeliere Naudes and was shortened a few years later. Until the 60’s the wines from La Gaffeliere were at their best, while in the 80’s it was not the same story. The quality of wine didn’t go back to high standards until Stephane Derencourt came in the game as a consultant. Then lately some vineyards were bought from neighbors and some parts of the vineyards were replanted.
Today, La Gaffeliere is about 18 hectares, with a majority of Merlot topped with Cabernet Franc. There used to be Cabernet Sauvignon until the 90’s but it’s been removed since. The soil there is more about clay and sand, with some limestone and chalk. The cellar is shiny and looked quite new, loved the purple colors! As all classic Bordeaux they use French oak to age the wines, the range of wine is divided in Chateau La Gaffeliere as top wine, then Clos La Gaffeliere as a second wine, and Les Hauts de la Gaffeliere sold as a Saint Emilion and AOC Bordeaux on the Place de Bordeaux aka Negotiant side.
We had the opportunity to discover 2016 Merlot and Cabernet Franc unfinished wines. The youngest vintages were obviously just babies, 2008 showed pretty well and very pleasant for a rated “classic” vintage, I would say this underrated vintage are often better value for money. And to top it up we enjoyed 1995 which was definitely very nice, a great wine!