Nicolas Thienpont and his team including consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt have produced brilliant St Emilion in the 2016 vintage. The wines show depth and vitality. The aromas are fresh and pure, the fruit glossy and the balance harmonious. Château Berliquet continues its qualitative march ahead with another textured and attractive wine. There is minerality here too. Château Larcis Ducasse is seductive. The fruit tones are delicious. The depth is impressive and the balance is Burgundian. Château Beauséjour is an unadorned beauty. The purity of the fruit is exceptional. Château Pavie Macquin looks to be one of the most impressive efforts here yet. This is strong wine. The power and structure are balanced by freshness, appealing texture and perfectly ripe tannins. 2016 taken together with 2015 and 2014 completes a trio of excellent back-to-back vintages at these properties.
There was a fascinating set of presentations organised by the Thienponts on the vintage on the Sunday preceding primeurs week. They charted what was a remarkable set of conditions across the growing season. Nicolas Thienpont gives it a dramaturgical spin in his vintage notes. He describes 2016 in terms of a classic three act structure – rain, then drought and water just-in-time [I’m grossly simplifying his erudite description!].
Interesting analysis was also produced on the summer and harvest conditions. Especially important was the diurnal temperature range with hot days but comparatively cool nights. This was significant for retaining the aromatic freshness in the wines. The drought itself [86 days of virtually no rainfall] checked the development of the grapes in the late summer. Excellent terroir and compact soils helped the vines negotiate this drought. September was cooler which helped preserve acidity and generally dry, save for the major, but important rains on 13 and 30 of the month. Alcohols are good but more moderate than in 2015.
The harvest at the three properties spanned 5 October to 21 October in excellent conditions. It began at Château Berliquet and ended at Château Beauséjour. The texture of the tannins is fabulous across the board, something consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt picked up in his analysis of the vintage. Overall he described 2016 as suave and classic, combining elements of 2005 and 2010.
The following notes were taken on the wines on 1/4/17 at Château Pavie Macquin. 2016 is a great vintage for all these wines. The emphasis is on purity, harmony and texture.
Château Berliquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2016
Lovely healthy looking colour; some cherry; velvety satin like quality; very round; attractive palate; soft entry but there is minerality here too; nice poise; textured but balanced; acidity is good; nice texture on the finish – gives a sense of punctuation. Length. Minerality. Excellent Berliquet. [75% Merlot, 25% Cab Franc, 7.5ha in production, 80% grand vin, 48hl/ha]. Drink 2022-2035. 93-94+
Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2016
Again attractive deep colour; glossy looking; healthy; very pretty on the nose; violet lift; seductive and pure; really excellent fruit qualities; perfectly ripe, pure fruit tones; almost Burgundian in its expression; has very good acidity; nice freshness on the end. So well integrated. Drank that one. Brilliant purity. Exceptional effort. [87% Merlot, 13% Cab Franc, 9ha in production, 78% grand vin, 43hl/ha]. Drink 2022-2040. 97-98+
Château Beauséjour [Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2016
Deep and saturated colour; beautiful fruit; wonderfully unadorned. Stunning. Can’t really describe this in simple fruit terms; enveloping fruit on the palate; violets, plums little spice but amazing purity and freshness; real length and race. Bright and zappy acidity on the finish. This will last and last. Winemaker David Suire is extremely happy. He’s right to be. Fabulous terroir at Beauséjour has delivered a wine equally fabulous. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5.4ha in production, 77% grand vin, 47hl/ha ]. Tasted 1/4/17. Drink 2024-2040. 98-100
Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2016
Lovely depth and colour; strong; layers of fruit; really nicely done [so polished and integrated]; lovely nose; tremendous depth; full on the palate; depth; sweet fruit but really balanced and nicely handled; has structure and scale but rather deceptive because of the harmony and gentleness of the extraction; nice chew on the end but again harmonious; length. Real length on the finish. Considerable scale hidden. Freshness on the end too. Great effort from the Thienponts on this fine terroir. [82% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5ha in production, 85% grand vin, 46hl/ha]. Tasted 1/4/17. Drink 2023-2040. 96-98
Tags: Bdx16, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Château Beauséjour [héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse], Chateau Berliquet, Chateau Larcis Ducasse, David Suire, Merlot, Nicolas Thienpont, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, Stéphane Derenoncourt