Brane Cantenac

Owner: Henri Lurton
Appellation: Margaux
Vineyard area: 90 hectares
Standard blend: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Production: 360,000 bottles p/a
Second wine: Baron de Brane

History

Originally known as Chateau Gorce, Brane Cantenac was one of 18th and 19th centuries’ most venerated Medoc estates. During the Gorce family’s 100-year tenure, spanning roughly 1735 to 1833, the wines are said to have fetched prices similar to those for Brane Mouton – the precursor to First Growth Mouton Rothschild.

Locally famed Baron Hector de Brane – nicknamed the Napoleon des Vignes – sold Brane Mouton to purchase Chateau Gorce in 1833. (This was likely a reflection of the estate’s burgeoning renown.) Shortly thereafter, he renamed the estate Brane Cantenac. Having already earned Second Growth status in various 19th century classifications, including Andre Simon’s in 1800, Brane Cantenac’s place amongst the Dieuxiemes Crus was cemented in 1855.

Quality and prestige declined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries following the onset of phylloxera, oidium and war. The estate was bought by the Societe des Grands Crus de France in 1919, but six years later the company was dissolved and the winery was sold to Leonce Recapet and his son-in-law, Francois Lurton. Since then, Brane Cantenac has remained in Lurton hands and is currently owned by Henri Lurton.

The 2010 vintage

The 2010 vintage received mixed reviews from the critics. While Jancis Robinson called the vintage “awkward” (17), James Suckling eulogised it as “balanced and polished….very elegant” (91-92). James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator awarded the wine 90-93 points, describing it as, “A fresh, floral style, with violet and rose aromas followed by a mix of vibrant red currant and blackberry fruit.”

Having come to market at around £575 per case, prices have edged down slightly since June and the wine is currently offered on the exchange at £540 per case.

Market trends

Like its Second Growth neighbours, Brane Cantenac has seen strong price appreciation since the start of the year. Physical vintages from 2000 onwards have outpaced the broader fine wine market, increasing in price by an average of 17 per cent. Cheaper vintages have posted the most impressive returns, with the 2004 in particular rising in value by more than 40 per cent. Despite the wines’ recent success, they continue to offer respite from the cumbersome prices that accompany some of their higher-profile peers.

It is worth noting that Brane Cantenac is not only one of the most affordable Second Growths on the market – with vintages 2000-2010 available at a mean price of £400 per case – it is also the most affordable entry point to Parker’s Magical 20. The group’s 2009s currently average £1,300 per case, so at £540 – less than half of the price – Brane Cantenac 2009 appears to offer exceptional value for money.

Brane Cantenac table
Prices for 12x75cl cases stored in bond. Image courtesy of Winecellarinsider.com.