Count Stefan von Neipperg of Château Canon La Gaffeliere in Saint-Émilion exemplifies a key aspect of the Castillon phenomenon: take one highly successful operation; then, move slightly east along the Right Bank (of the Dordogne) and establish another. Now perhaps the most fashionable of all Bordeaux satellite appellations, the sandy gravels-and-clay soils here produce a dark ruby-colored wine. A Merlot-based blend, with 15% Cabernet Franc, from 30-year old vines this “second label” starts with aromas of dark chocolate, leather, raspberry and clove, dressed with a very particular touch of cedar and minerals. The elegant mouth-feel gives a very good example of what true Merlot should be – fruity, juicy, fresh, but rich, with lovely, velvety tannins and dark berry, cherry and spiced plum fruit. Food match: dark meats (duck, lamb), Italian pastas (tomato or pesto), roasted eggplant, moussaka.
|The von Neipperg counts are descended from a noble line dating back to the Holy Roman Empire. This family has contributed great soldiers and illustrious diplomats throughout the centuries. Responsible for numerous military exploits, the family’s long history is grounded in their attachment to their land. In fact, the Counts von Neipperg have been making fine wine there since the 12th century.
The birth of a noble lineage
The first record of the Count von Neipperg goes as far back as the 12th century.
Centred in Schwaigern, in the Wurttemberg Valley, the fiefdom covered as many as thirty villages.
Major historical figures...
Count Eberhard-Friedrich von Neipperg epitomises the family’s devotion to both military pursuits and winemaking. Imperial Field Marshal at the Austrian court, he was famous for having defeated the Turks at Timisoara in 1667. He was also responsible for introducing the famous Austrian grape variety Blaufrankisch (Lemberger) at his vineyard estates. This variety continues to enjoy prominence in the family vineyards.
His son, Wilhelm-Reinhard von Neipperg, also made a name for himself thanks to acts of valour during the war between Austria and Turkey. Likewise a Field Marshal, he fought valiantly in Italy and Hungary.
Wilhelm-Reinhard’s son, Leopold von Neipperg, was an ambassador for the Austrian court. History tells us of a brilliant man in the tradition of the great minds of the Enlightenment. A reputed author, Leopold also invented the typewriter. Furthermore, it is generally accepted that he was responsible for arranging the marriage of King Louis the 16th of France and Marie-Antoinette of Austria
Leopold’s son, Adam-Adalbert von Neipperg, is undoubtedly the family’s most famous ancestor. A legendary soldier, nicknamed ”the German Bayard” by Madame de Stael, he is most often depicted with an eye patch hiding a wound received at the Battle of Doelen in 1794. A devoted enemy of Napoleon, he used his diplomatic talents to contribute to the emperor’s downfall. In 1814, Franz II, Emperor of Austria, asked Adam-Adalbert to court Napoleon’s wife, Marie-Louise. Adam-Adalbert married her shortly thereafter. Their marriage produced three children, which prompted Chateaubriand to say that Adam-Adalbert 1/2 had dared to lay his eggs in the eagle’s nest ».
The family tree of the present Counts von Neipperg goes back to Adam-Adalbert’s first marriage to Countess Paula de Treviso. It was during this troubled time that the von Neipperg holdings were annexed by the Duke of Wurttemberg, who had been proclaimed king. The family nevertheless managed to hold on to some of their land. At this juncture, the von Neippergs devoted most of their energy to winegrowing, while continuing to be involved with their country’s political affairs.
The family still owns a wine estate in their original fief in Germany. This is managed by Stephan von Neipperg’s older brother.