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Bordeaux 2016: Haut-Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

2016 is generally an excellent vintage for the wines of the Haut-Médoc. It’s a broad generalisation of course. Geographically the appellation covers a very wide area on the left bank. It stretches from close to St Estèphe in the north, down to Ludon in the south, and from beside the Gironde, to fairly deep inland. Nevertheless, 2016 is a pretty homogeneous vintage here, despite the variation in terroir. The tannin has wonderful texture, the fruit tones are ripe and plush and there is freshness too. Château La Lagune, wonderfully seductive, leads the appellation. There are some seriously intense wines too. Château Belgrave and Château Cantemerle are extremely so. All three are up there in quality with 2009 and 2010 vintages. I was really impressed by the wines from Château Arnauld, Château Beaumont and Château Malescasse. I think these wines are the best yet from these properties. That’s also true of Château de Camensac to. It is beautiful in 2016.

Bordeaux 2016 Primeurs: Overview

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Last year 2015 was wildly heralded. The wines had beauty. The year produced wonderful wine on the right bank, but the picture was a little muddier on the left. Bordeaux 2016 brings greater homogeneity. Excellence is achieved at all levels and in all appellations for the reds. In the Médoc and the Haut-Médoc, the qualitative heights to which the wines soar are remarkable. In that sense it is undoubtedly a great Cabernet year. With the possible exception of 2014 in St Estèphe and 2015 in Margaux, 2016 should probably be seen as the best vintage on the left bank since 2010. But what is particularly exciting about 2016 is that in a great many cases it is a far easier vintage to understand than 2010 at this young stage. The alcohols are significantly lower and the tannins, which are up there with 2010 [and in a few cases even more considerable], seem much more succulent and textured. There is freshness too – and the aromatics are beautiful. The vintage also excels in St Emilion, Pomerol and in Pessac-Léognan. Cabernet Franc has done extremely well, but so too has Merlot. There are exceptions. Firstly the vines struggled with the drought on the lighter soils and in younger plots. Secondly, the hot and dry conditions were not always favourable to some of Bordeaux’s dry whites, the aromatic Sauvignon Blanc in particular. Yet for the reds I came away from many of the tastings during primeurs with the same excitement as I had back in 2009 and 2010. 2016 is potentially great and concludes a trilogy of fascinating vintages for the region.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2016: Day 4

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The joyride around Bordeaux 2016 culminated once again with some remarkable wines in the Haut-Médoc. These were led by Château Palmer, which in 2016 has produced a Margaux to rival last year’s beauty. Overall you would have thought that the dry and hot conditions would have been difficult on some of the gravelly and lighter soils in both Margaux and in Pessac-Léognan, the two key appellations in which I dedicated a large part of my final day tasting. While I did notice a little more variability (some jam/raisin qualities in a couple, over-extraction in others] I was generally very impressed with a great number of wines. Once again the aromatics, the fruit tones and seductive qualities of the tannins were remarkable at the top end. I also explored the Haut-Médoc appellation in some detail. There are a great many wines of interest here in 2016 for the consumer. The vintage appears to rival 2009 and 2010. Stylistically it is almost a hypothetical blend of those two vintages [perhaps with some 2014 thrown in], but with generally more moderate alcohol levels. Time will tell as to 2016s precise place in the pantheon, but it’s obviously a very exciting vintage. Still, dark Brexit clouds mean that this vintage will obviously be released into an uncertain and possibly very different future.

Bordeaux 2015: Haut-Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0930There are some wonderful wines in the Haut-Médoc appellation in 2015 but there are variations. Some properties in the northern Haut-Médoc have made better wine in 2014. This variation reflects the geography and intensity of the rain showers on the eve of harvest in the September period that, by and large, were heavier the further up the Médoc you went. Properties in the southern Haut-Médoc, especially the likes of Château Cantemerle and Château La Lagune have made great wine in 2015. Châteaux in this geography or in the middle Haut-Médoc, such as Château Beaumont, Château Belle-Vue, Château Citran and Château Malescasse are impressive. The trio of crus classés in St Laurent [close to St Julien] Château Belgrave, Château de Camensac and Château La Tour Carnet have also performed well. While these are all definitely 2015s to consider, I can’t help thinking 2014 looked generally a better deal in terms of value in this varied appellation, given the price rises and the exchange rates in 2015. It will certainly be interesting to see the development of these two vintages in bottle. 2015 is overall the better vintage, but that’s not necessarily true for all the Haut-Médoc properties.

Bordeaux 2014: Haut-Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

DSC01528There are a number of exciting wines to consider in the Haut-Médoc in 2014. As elsewhere, the miraculous September heat and sun allowed for the proper ripening of the Cabernets, which give depth and sophistication to the blends. The vintage also displays attractive freshness. This keeps the tasting experience positive and appetizing. The Haut-Médoc crus classés such as Château Belgrave, Château CantemerleChâteau de Camensac, Château La Lagune and Château La Tour Carnet have all made excellent wines. Then there is a veritable army of others such as d’Agassac, Beaumont, Belle-Vue, Bernadotte, Clément-Pichon, Charmail, Cissac, Citran, Coufran, du Cartillon, Larose Trintaudon, Malescasse, Sénéjac and de Villegeorge, which show plenty of style and depth. I’ve no doubt these wines will give much pleasure to fans of the appellation.

Bordeaux 2014 Primeurs – Thursday

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

016Thursday’s 2014 primeurs tastings started at Château Latour and the wines showed impressive blackcurrant purity and freshness. Since Latour have withdrawn from the primeurs system, the current releases were also on show including their wonderful 2003 [more on this later]. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste has also produced very refined and balanced wines in 2014 [including Haut-Batailley]. Lynch Moussas held the UGC tastings for St Estèphe and Pauillac. Top for me amongst the Pauillacs were Batailley, Lynch-Bages and an excellent Pichon Baron. In St Estèphe, Lafon Rochet is full and harmonious and Ormes de Pez concentrated. There was inconsistency in a few others, with hard tannins in some. At Pontet-Canet the chais was packed with visitors and the wine was round and vivacious. Pichon Lalande too has succeeded with a powerful wine with attractive fragrance. Cabernet has certainly done well in the Left Bank this year.

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