Château Pape Clément was badly affected in volume terms by the damage wrought by the April frost in 2017. At the property, in Bordeaux’s suburbs in Pessac, production for the red was sixty percent down and fifty percent for the whites. Other properties elsewhere in Bordeaux owned by Bernard Magrez were affected even more significantly. Château La Tour Carnet in the Haut-Médoc, for example, lost 70% of production. At Pape Clément, despite the considerably reduced crop, and the knock-on effects in terms of blending options, the quality is excellent. The white is very exciting. It is full and deep but not overblown. The Pape Clément red is typically layered and lush, with lots of black fruits.
I’m publishing these in-depth notes somewhat belatedly. I have already posted last April briefly about the quality of the dry whites and the structured reds made in 2017 at Château La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Haut-Brion. Today I’m publishing more detailed notes and thoughts on the wines. The top line? 2017 is a genuinely ‘epic’ year for the whites here. Even by their own sensational quality, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc and Haut-Brion Blanc are super sublime.
Earlier in the year I had a look a half a dozen wines from Lalande de Pomerol from the 2017 vintage. Overall these were perhaps a little less generous than I expected. Evidently the frost had a lasting legacy here. The last two vintages 2015 and 2016 have been exciting. There is elegance and interest in 2017 amongst the wines I tasted but I’d be opting to seek out wines from those two vintages over 2017. La Fleur de Boüard is the most powerful wine in the appellation. It has produced a very stylish wine in 2017. I was also impressed with Château Moncet in a lighter style, along with Château Jean de Gué and Château Tournefeuille which offer good texture and balance.
I missed out tasting many of the big guns in Pomerol in 2017. The sixteen that I did taste at the Grand Cercle and elsewhere felt fresh, elegant and mid-weight. Overall they were not as plump and enticing as the wines produced in the excellent 2015 and 2016 vintages in Pomerol. They were evidently handled well in the cellar nevertheless. Generally the wines seemed unforced and balanced. My picks? Château Beauregard, Château Feytit-Clinet, Château La Clémence, Château Mazeyres, Château Maillet, Château Le Moulin, Château Nénin, Château Vray Croix de Gay and Le Clos du Beau-Père particularly impressed among the relatively limited number I tasted. Evidently Merlot suffered from the frost in particular in Pomerol. The Cabernet Franc appears to have come to the rescue, resulting in the finesse and elegance found in many of the samples. I hope to taste more Pomerols on forthcoming trips to the region.
Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac look good in 2017. The wines are nicely balanced, with plenty of flesh and harmony. They should age well in the medium term but will be easy to appreciate in their infancy. All in all, this is an interesting vintage for the consumer. Obviously 2015 and 2016 were excellent vintages here, with greater richness and structure, but I was genuinely surprised by the appeal of the wines in 2017. Yes, there has been a reduction in volume due to frost but I didn’t get any sense that quality had been dramatically affected. Quite the opposite. I was especially impressed with Château Dalem, Château de Carles, Château de la Dauphine, Château de la Rivière, Château Moulin Haut Laroque, Château La Vieille Cure and Château Villars. That said, quality seemed pretty homogenous to me and there really weren’t any misfires in the other wines I tasted from Fronsac or Canon-Fronsac earlier this year.
While the Côtes de Bordeaux appellations are varied and diverse, the Grand Cercle tasting back in April showed many wines having good, bold colours in 2017. They displayed attractive fruit and purity. There was also a nice balance to many of the wines with fresh acidities. Despite the frost problems it seemed that many properties had succeeded in making good wines. Blaye, Bourg, Cadillac, Castillon and Francs usually offer some of the best value red wines in Bordeaux and given the generosity this year, even if yields have been reduced, there are many wines to consider. For me Château Alcée [Castillon], Château d’Aiguhile [Castillon], Château Réaut [Cadillac], Château Reynon [Cadillac] and Château Veyry [Castillon] especially stood out, but overall quality felt homogeneous.