In a nutshell: A polished, ripe and subtly spicy Saint-Emilion from one of the appellation's Premier Grnd Cru Classé estates.
The lowdown: Under the ownership of the Malet-Roquefort family and with the renowned Stéphane Derenoncourt on board as winemaking consultant Château La Gaffeliere has been up among the best performer in Saint-Emilion for a number of years. 2012 was a good year in Bordeaux, particularly so in the right bank appellations of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, and this year's Gaffeliere was its reliable self. It's a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc which, after fermentation was aged for 14 months in a mix of new and 2 year old barrels. A well made wine, with notes of liquorice, spice and dark fruits on the nose from which follows rich, dark fruits on the palate. There's a well defined minerality and elegant tannins which give an excellent structure.
When to drink: It has good ageing potential and while mature and ready to drink now, it'll stay on top form right to the end of the 2020s.
In old French the word gaffelière translates as 'leper colony' and it's thought that this and the neighbouring Château Canon La Gaffelière are on the site of such an establishment dated back to the 17th century. La Gaffelière has been owned by the Malet-Roquefort family since the early 1700s and is in the top division of Saint-Emilion estates being one of the 18 Premier Grand Cru Classés in the appellation. However in the 1970s and 80s their reputation had slipped somewhat, but in later decades, and coming up to date under the guidance of Comte Leo and Alexandre de Malet-Roquefort, it's fair to say their wines are right back to top form and are among the most sought after of Saint Emilions. Around 70% of their vines are Merlot with the remainder being Cabernet Franc. Around 4,000 cases of the Grand Vin are produced each year and there is also a second wine produced under the name 'Clos La Gaffelière'.