The 2017 vintage was a difficult one for Stephan von Neipperg and his team. In the frost of April 27-28 they lost much of the crop at Clos Marsalette in Pessac-Léognan, half of the crop in both his Castillon estate Château d’Aiguihle and St Emilion property Clos de l’Oratoire. At Château Canon-la-Gaffelière frost reduced the harvest by 40%. Only the prized La Mondotte vineyard was spared. That’s the bad news. The good news is that team Neipperg have succeeded in making impressive wines, very much against these odds. This is partly thanks to the quality of the remaining crop, a huge amount of work in the vineyard but also a determination to encourage a useful harvest from second generation grapes. It is also says much about Stephan von Neipperg’s own strength of character. Determined not to be despondent, he encouraged his team in the face of adversity. When the going gets tough, as Billy Ocean famously noted, the tough get going.
Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Franc’
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?
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.
Eric Kohler has supervised an impressive set of wines at Château Lafite-Rothschild in 2016. The great qualities of the 2016 vintage are writ large in the wines. The aromatics are beguiling [wonderful freshness and vibrancy] and the tannins succulent and textured. There is also a delicacy and digestibility to the wines which is attractive. Carruades de Lafite has plenty of vibrant, bouncy fruit. It has real beauty. Château Duhart-Milon is more reserved but with multiple layers and depth. Château Lafite-Rothschild looks to be best of recent years. It is more impressive at this stage than the successful 2014 here. In fact there are echoes of the truly great Lafites in 2009 and 2010, albeit that 2016 appears to be fractionally lighter in body than those two vintages.
As you’d expect in a vintage like 2016 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste hasn’t put a foot wrong [except perhaps its 25% price rise in euro terms – significantly more in sterling]. I think it is certainly the best Grand-Puy-Lacoste since the 2009 and 2010. There is great depth and length to the wine. The balance is terrific. Despite the upward trajectory of price here, this is a property which remains a continual over-achiever, though back vintages from 2009, 2010 and 2014 look more interesting value to me. Second wine Lacoste Borie looks well worth considering in 2016. This is one of the best I’ve tasted in recent years. It has plenty of ripe, fresh blackcurrant fruit. Spot on Pauillac.
Another beauty has been made here at Château Pontet-Canet in 2016. This is the twelfth vintage that the Pauillac property has used biodynamic practices. Pontet-Canet leads the way in Bordeaux in this vision of a holistic, balanced approach to winegrowing. The results speak for themselves. 2016 was also, remarkably, the fortieth vintage undertaken by Alfred Tesseron. If the renaissance of Pontet-Canet has been his life’s work, it has also been that of his right hand man, the fascinating Jean-Michel Comme. Once again they have harnessed the characteristics of Pontet Canet’s terroir to produce a pure, harmonious Pauillac with the most glorious texture. It represents the entire harvest. No second wine was produced. If you can afford it, buy it.