I’ve recently been reunited with eight cases of Bordeaux that have been kindly stored in a friend’s cold cellar in Gloucestershire for half a dozen years. Much of it is pretty decent Bordeaux that finally coming into bloom from the 2005 vintage. There are also some 2006s, 2003s and 2000s from what are often seen as ‘lesser’ properties but which have provided wonderfully enjoyable drinking. The question that I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been reacquainting myself with these wines six years on is whether my taste for Bordeaux has changed…
There is no doubt that 2016 is a brilliant year for St Estèphe. The dry summer and sunny harvest conditions played to the strengths of the terroir here. I’ve already marvelled at the harmony and balance of the wines at Château Calon Ségur, Château Montrose and Château Cos d’Estournel in this vintage, but, as ever, there are a bevy of other wines at lower price points that have produced wonderful red wine. Château Beau-Site, Château Le Boscq, Château Capbern, Château Le Crock, Château Domeyne, Château Haut-Marbuzet and Château Meyney, to name a few, have all made excellent wines. St Estèphe is really an appellation to seek out in 2016 [as in 2014 too]. It is also one of my favourite Bordeaux appellations.
Château Montrose has been on a roll for the past decade. Legendary wines have been made here in 2009, 2010 and 2014. 2016 continues this run of form at this leading St Estèphe property. The vineyard position here, adjacent to the Gironde, brings to mind Château Latour in Pauillac, and Château Léoville-Las-Cases and Château Ducru-Beaucaillou in St Julien, although Montrose’s aspect in St Estèphe is somewhat more elevated than these other great sites. 2016 Montrose shares characteristics with both the 2010 and 2014 here in my book. It is a wine laden with cassis and blackcurrant fruit and exhibits wonderful purity. La Dame de Montrose has lashings of plum and black cherry aromatics along with some graphite tones. Château Tronquoy-Lalande, junior to both of these wines, from an entirely different terroir, looks to be exceptional value in 2016. It has produced a wine loaded with fruit, bounce and life. Perhaps it’s the best yet from this property?
Château Calon Ségur has produced beautiful St Estèphe in 2016. The finesse and elegance here are always remarkable but there is great depth too in 2016. For me Calon-Ségur is up with the very best wines of the vintage. Certainly it is hot on the heels of the wonderful St Estèphe produced here in 2014, 2010 and 2009. Chateau Capbern also looks a very good bet. Though it was better priced in sterling terms in 2014 [for something of an equivalent vintage in St Estèphe] this 2016 is probably even finer. It is clearly of cru classé quality.
Cos has done it again. Following on from a successful 2015 [in what was actually a pretty tricky vintage for St Estèphe], 2016 is perhaps the most successful vintage here since the fabulous 2010. As ever the precision is exceptional. The wine is defined by a wonderful seam of bright, voluptuous fruit. There are many layers to the palate and the tannins are beautifully refined. The balance overall is exceptional. This is potentially epic Cos in a new sense. Pagodes de Cos [some 55% of the estate’s production] also looks very good in 2016, in a vintage that is clearly very successful for St Estèphe. Finesse and harmony are the hallmarks again here.
In 2016 Pauillac has had the most collectively exciting vintage vintage since 2010. The texture of the tannin is remarkable and the balance is incredibly appealing. I’d go as far to say that, on the basis of the wines I tasted, this is my favourite vintage here since 2009. It has some of the qualities of 2005 and 2000 but the tannin feels more supple than both of those vintages to me [and tannin management has come a long way in the last ten to fifteen vintages]. My only caveat is that, owing to a shortage of time I missed out on tasting some old favourites including Château Batailley, Château Haut-Batailley, Château Lynch Bages, Château Pichon Longueville and Château Pichon Lalande. I hope to taste these wines in the not too distant future and will update this post when I do. In the meantime, here are my notes on fifteen wines from Pauillac in 2016. It includes notes on all the first growths and Château Pontet Canet.