Château Calon Ségur is one of my favourite properties in Bordeaux. This is exceptional terroir in St Estèphe produces some of the finest and most classical claret. Regularly the château pulls a rabbit out of the hat in tricky vintages – it made a good fist of things in 2011 and in 2013. In good vintages like 2012 and 2014 it really excelled. For me 2009 and 2010 show the heights this property can command, two stand-out wines, easily of first growth quality. So what of Calon in 2015? It is not as immediately powerful as the 2014, but shows attractive texture and balance. It is defined by beautiful Cabernet fruit tones and should fill out further during elévage.
Pauillac has had a very good vintage in 2015, though there is some variability. The best wines have considerable depth and beautiful fruit tones. The acidity is good and the tannins are wonderfully ripe. In some cases heavy September rain showers knocked the edge of things a bit here relative to other appellations. In some cases 2014 felt a more powerful vintage in Pauillac. That is also the case in neighbouring St Estèphe. That said, the general delicacy of the wines and the delicious fruit tones make 2015 Pauillac a very attractive vintage for a great many châteaux here.
Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t find any more complete an expression than at Château Latour, conjured from its unique terroir adjacent to the Gironde on Pauillac’s southern border with St Julien. Although Latour no longer releases wine to sell en primeur, it still shows samples of the previous vintage each April, along with the wines the château is currently releasing. This year was the mouthwatering prospect of the 2010 Pauillac de Latour, Les Forts de Latour 2009 and Château Latour 2000 [pictured] – a cross section of perhaps the finest ever recent vintages for this property. In this formidable company the 2015 made a good impression, despite the vagaries of the weather in September here in the northern left bank. 2015 Latour has plenty of extract but displays wonderful harmony and the flattering aromatic qualities that mark this vintage.
Château Lafite-Rothschild can be the most enigmatic of the Pauillac first growths. Certain vintages, like 2009 and 2010, are knockout from the off. But some vintages are not easy to judge young. Lafite 2015, was reticent when I tasted it in April. It exhibited elegance and composure for sure, but it was far less assertive in comparison with wines from other top properties tasted on the same day. Lafite has received glowing reviews elsewhere, I should point out, so you might wish to flag my notes as outsider scores. I also found the samples of Carruades and Château Duhart Milon elegant and lacking concentration. I’d expect all these samples to gain weight during elévage, but let’s just say they were the least expressive wines among Pauillac‘s top tier that I tasted.
Back to Bordeaux, and straight to the top. Château Mouton Rothschild, alongside Latour, led Pauillac this year for me. Mouton 2015 has power and depth but also harmony. It goes down in my book as the most impressive wine here since 2010 [though as at many Médoc properties the 2014 may yet give it a run for its money]. Le Petit Mouton also impressed and both Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc-Milon look good this year. The bad news is that prices are up substantially on 2014, by 60% in the case of Mouton itself. Further exchange rate instability in the UK at least may also influence the price at which Mouton is offered.
Fine wine and the quality of Bordeaux 2015 vintage are trivial concerns in the light of the UK’s Brexit vote. This has never been a political blog, but I’m happy to tell you I voted to remain in the EU for reasons that seemed blindingly obvious. To my mind voters were let down by politicians who skewed the debate towards immigration, exploiting fear and prejudice in the electorate. European readers of this blog, please remember that Brexit achieved only a narrow victory. 48% of those who voted wish to remain in the EU. And had 16-17 year olds been allowed to vote on a decision that also directly affects them [as they had in the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014] then the vote would almost certainly have gone the other way. I hope that somehow we can limit the damage of this vote. The best way to achieve this would be through a second referendum or in a general election to somehow reverse or qualify this decision. Brexit is a grave mistake, and its political and economic consequences are becoming clearer by the day.