Wine Words & Video Tape

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Bordeaux 2016: Château Margaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

I’m running out of superlatives. Château Margaux 2016 is a wine to match the perfect 2015. It does justice to the legacy of the great Paul Pontallier. The aromatics are spectacular; the power and scale hidden behind the beauty and purity of the fruit. If only I could afford this wine. The real marvel is Pavillon Rouge. Representing only a quarter of the harvest, this looks to me to be amongst the best produced. Made from plots that formerly went into the grand vin, this is glossy, voluptuous Margaux that exhibits the most caressing and silky fruit. Great stuff.

The 2016 growing season at Château Margaux, as elsewhere, got off to an extremely wet start. There was 400 mm of rainfall in the first three months of the year. Flowering took place quickly and evenly in an unusually settled few days between June 6-8, ending a period that had been unusually cool and damp. Conditions then changed dramatically. The summer brought only 8mm between the start of July and the end of August. It was very dry but not exceptionally hot, with only second half of August being hotter than average. This led to veraison, the colour change in the grapes, being somewhat spread out. September was characterised by dry days & cool nights. Rain on 13 September, as elsewhere, positively aided final phenolic maturation.  The red wine harvest was the longest in the history of the estate, beginning on 23 September with the Merlot and finishing on 18 October with the Cabernet Sauvignon. Picking conditions were ideal.

Reading between the lines it was a tricky harvest for Pavillon Blanc. With the grapes falling acidity it was decided to pick early by comparison [8-13 Sept]. Only a third of the white wine vintage made it into the final blend. Pavillon Blanc is very good this year – a genuine success in conditions that were difficult for Sauvignon Blanc. It was a different story for the reds. The last harvest conditions ideally suited the Cabernet Sauvignon here and the phenomenal success of this variety on the terroir of Château Margaux is evidenced in the property’s two red wines.

The following wines were tasted at Château Margaux on Tuesday, 4 April, 2016.

Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux, 2016

Washed silver; pear drops and candied fruit; meadow grass in May; seasalt; good race and zip on the palate; has nice zap and zing; nicely done but not in the same league as ’14 and ’15 Pavillon Blanc. [100% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2019-2026. 92-94

Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, Margaux, 2016

Deep colour; purple at edge; lovely perfume; attractive and glossy; very Bordeaux; very intense and caressing fruit; voluptuous; textured and succulent tannin; very good length with a silky finish. Wonderful Margaux. [84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2022-2035. 93-95+

Château Margaux, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Margaux, 2016

Deep and vibrant; beautifully perfumed; real delicacy on the nose; perfect Margaux aromatics; floral almost; lovely Cabernet aromatics and fantastic purity; elegant entry on the palate but considerable depth; good acidity and wonderful balance; wonderfully refined Rolls-Royce tannins. Epic. A beauty to match 2015. [94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2025-2045. 97-100

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