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’s no more enjoyable tasting to be had in Bordeaux than in the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. The wines are packed with joy and expression [almost to a fault] and with the mischievous Thunevin knocking about the cuves, there’s a certain electricity in the air. You are never quite sure what is going to happen next! His playfulness comes across in the wines. They are full of surprises and beautiful contradictions. Château Valandraud looks to be every bit as epic in 2016 as it was in 2015. It has volume and concentration. Virginie de Valandraud is vivid and vivacious. Interdit de Valandraud is muscular and solid. It is made from plots that formerly made their way into Valandraud grand vin before its elevation to premier grand cru status. For those without the financial wherewithal for Thunevin’s top grog, St Emilion Grand Crus Clos Badon-Thunevin and Château Bel Air Ouÿ look very good in 2016 and will be affordable.
In 2015 the St Emilion’s from the von Neipperg stables were glossy and lush. 2016 appears to be of similar quality but has quite different characteristics. The wines feel more textured on the mid-palate and show even more freshness. As a vintage, while not as immediately seductive as 2015, it seems to have more evident ‘matter’. I’m a great fan of Clos de l’Oratoire and the 2016 doesn’t disappoint. It has wonderful fruit and polish. Château Canon-la-Gaffelière has quite a bit of zap and verve this year. There is concentration but it also feels very fleet-of-foot. The cabernets in 2016 were clearly wonderful. La Mondotte is its usual glossy, layered, decadent self. It is a real beauty.
2016 completes an exciting trilogy of vintages here in Pomerol. It is the quality of the Cabernet Franc that shines through in many of the wines, though excellent conditions during the flowering period also benefitted the predominant Merlot, insuring good fruit set and homogeneity. Clay soils also afforded protection against the summer drought. Overall Pomerol 2016s display wonderful fruit tones with succulent tannins and goodish acidity. A truncated trip here meant I had no chance to review the wines of JP Moueix or look at the UGCB wines in detail. The following notes on eighteen wines cover the line up shown principally at the Grand Cercle as well as Pomerols made by Jean-Luc Thunevin and those amongst the consultancy wines of Hubert de Boüard de Laforest.
The best wines in Lalande de Pomerol in 2016 have really good succulence and texture. My picks? Jean-Luc Thunevin has produced another beauty at Domaine des Sabines [pictured left]. This wine shows remarkable consistency year to year. Hubert de Bouard has produced two terrific wines in La Fleur de Boüard and Le Plus de la Fleur de Boüard. The former is ravishing; the latter profound and concentrated. Château La Fleur St George, another de Boüard property, also looks good. Château Grand Ormeau, Château Jean de Gué, La Sergue, Château Saint-Jean de Lavaud and Château de Viaud all impressed at the Grand Cercle tastings. Château Siaurac and Château Tournefeuille, two well-regarded properties, also show promise. Siaurac was a little backward but nicely structured and Tournefeuille displayed plenty of joyful fruit.
2016 looks to be a very good vintage in Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac. These wines traditionally have more sinew and elegance than some of the other right bank districts. The vintage plays to these strengths. The fruit qualities are attractive, nicely fresh and aromatic. These are nimble wines, not in the least overblown, but with good depth, fine acidity and very attractive texture to the tannins. The picks? There is good homogeneity here, but at the very top end Château Dalem, Château de la Dauphine, Haut Carles, Château Moulin Haut Laroque, Château de la Rivière and Château La Viellle Cure look excellent in Fronsac as does the well-known Château Gaby in Canon-Fronsac.