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Bordeaux 2016: Pessac-Léognan & Graves White

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Bordeaux 2016 looks to be an excellent year for red wines but for the white wines of Pessac-Léognan the results seem uneven. The drought conditions across the summer that lasted well into September have yielded a varied range of wines. Some excellent whites have been made, but there is not the homogeneity of vintages like 2012, 2014 and 2015. A few whites felt flabby, unexpressive and low in acidity. The best, unsurprisingly, came from the finest terroirs that could deal with the dry conditions. Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Château La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Smith Haut Lafitte lead the pack. Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Château de Fieuzal, Château Malartic-Lagravière and Château Olivier are not far behind in quality. These are all excellent. Expect Château Bouscaut, Château Haut-Bergey and Château Larrivet Haut-Brion to be very good also. Château Pape Clément, usually up there with the best, felt subdued. Doubtless many whites [Pape Clément included] will all benefit from ‘filling out’ a little during elévage. Still 2016 still doesn’t have the excitement for me of previous white wine vintages here.

The following wines were tasted at the UGCB event at Château Carbonnieux on Tuesday 4th April, 2017 as well as at tastings at Château La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Smith Haut Lafitte amongst others.

Château Bouscaut, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver/green; saline; some lime and pear drop; salty; elegantly styled Bouscaut; good effort. Will fill out. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2020-2026. 90-91

Château Carbonnieux, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver; some weight to the nose; nicely textured on the palate; candy hints; attractive on the palate and has definition; saline notes but has weight; nicely done if lacking a bit of zip. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. 90-91+

Domaine de Chevalier, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver; minerals; some candy; depth and structure on the palate; will in-fill. Mineral style. [75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon]. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. 91-93+

Château de Fieuzal, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; textured nose; ripe fruit tones; has textured palate – with life and nicely done. Excellent potential. [60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, crop reduction of 30% due to frost]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2020-2028. 92-94

Château de France, Pessac-Léognan

Washed pale grey; little apple; lacks aromatics; some oily qualities on the palate and mealy note. [80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2019-2022. UGCB. 84-86

Château Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan

Pale grey; candy and pear; little wax; some texture and life; nicely done in this vintage. [80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon]. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. 90-91+

Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Some lime; bit dumb; some candied fruit; rock salt; steely; palate has race and style; nice focus; acidity and freshness; has good length; quite saline; elegant; not weighty or especially aromatic. With doubtless fill out. [70.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 29.5% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2022-2030. 94-96

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver; saline notes; some wax; has texture on the palate, not as hugely expressive as some vintages. Lacks aromatic lift. [74% Sauvignon Blanc, 26% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2024. 89-91+

Château Latour-Martillac, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver/green; some candy and pear; little mineral; palate has a little zip but lacks the excitements of other years in 2016. [60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2024. 87-89

Château La Louvière, Pessac-Léognan

Washed straw; some candy and pear drop but not that exuberant; flint and some pear drops on the palate; some zing on the finish; a fraction short in length. [100% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2018-2023. 87-89

Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Washed silver/green; quite full on the aromatics; some pear and candy; candied fruit; more zip; certain race here; lacks a bit of middle though; lacks flavour to me; some race and verve but not as knockout as some recent vintages. Some length – the acidity takes you through the narrative. [62.7% Sauvignon Blanc, 37.3% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2020-2030. 94-96

Château Malartic-Lagravière, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver; some wax and depth; lanolin; correct and fresh on the palate; some zap in the finish; good depth; little candy on the finish. Good length. Nicely done. [85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2025. 91-93

Château Olivier, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver/green; saline notes with a little wax; zappy entry on the palate with some life; quite moreish; textured palate; will work well. [75% Sauvignon Blanc, 23% Sémillon, 2% Muscadelle]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2026. 91-92+

Château Pape Clément, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw/washed green; salty and mineral note; some depth on the palate but subdued for Pape Clement. Will fill out but like quite a few of these 2016 whites this is not that forthcoming currently. [55% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2025. 90-92

Château Picque Caillou, Pessac-Léognan

Pale; grass and limes on the nose; candy and pear drop on the palate along with the cut grass; this is refreshing and has some zing. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sémillon]. Tasted 4/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2018-2023. 90-91+

Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Pale silver; minerals, rock salt; white flowers; zesty palate; full but positive; great texture again. Always one of my favourite Bordeaux whites. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2020-2028. 94-96+

Clarté de Haut Brion, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Brilliant silver/green; greengage and oyster shell; saline notes; nicely coiled on the palate; feels a little lacking in concentration and zip; lacks concentration to me. Some mineral tones at the end. [76.3% Sémillon, 23.7% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2019-2024. 90-92+

Clos Marsallette, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Washed silver; steely; pear drops; candy; again similar flavours on the palate; has some race; crisp; nice finish. Good stuff! Tasted 1/4/17 at Canon-la-Gaffeliere. Drink 2019-2023. 88-90

Les Haut de Smith Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Brilliant washed silver; attractive aromatics; pear drops; oyster shell; race and depth with textured finish. Lovely salinity. [100% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2019-2024. 90-92+

GRAVES

Château de Chantegrive, Graves, 2016

Washed grey/silver; fresh cut grass, lightly aromatic; more to it than Ferrande; some candy notes. Short-ish finish. Tasted 2/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2022. 85-87

Château Ferrande, Graves, 2016

Washed straw; little oily note; lacks aromatic qualities; solid palate – but lacking in flavour. Again rather oily palate. Tasted 2/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2022. 80-82

Château Rahoul, Graves, 2016

Washed silver; meadow grass, candy notes and pear drops; positive palate with some freshness. Finishes a little short but good effort in the drought conditions. [78% Semillon, 22% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted 2/4/17 UGCB. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+

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