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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Cantemerle’
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.
There 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.
Château Angludet and Château Cantemerle are two of the best value fine red Bordeaux’s you can pick up. Cantemerle, classified a fifth growth in the 1855 classification, regularly produces top class claret and has been on particularly impressive form in the last decade. This Haut-Médoc is located in Macau, just to the south of the Margaux appellation. Château d’Angludet [now simply labeled Angludet] is a very well-known old Margaux property that was pretty much brought back from the dead by the late Peter Allan Sichel after he purchased the ailing property in 1961. Today the wine has been taken to even greater heights by his son Ben Sichel. It is undoubtedly one of the best value chateaux of this large and heterogeneous appellation. The property has excellent terroir and neighbours Château Giscours and Château du Tertre.
There 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 Cantemerle, Château 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.
Top 2010 Haut-Médoc continue to develop successfully if the four crus classés shown at the MW Institute last November are anything to go by. Château Cantemerle 2010 seems equal in quality, if not quite in style, to the prodigious 2009 here. There is more structure and tension in the wine in this vintage but it is another brilliant effort. The same too goes for Château La Lagune. Clearly it has depth, structure and plenty of matter but is currently closed. Château de Camensac has turned in a vibrantly styled wine with its usual emphasis on vigour and freshness. Château Belgrave looks especially successful. It has produced a pure, plump and very complete Haut-Médoc which must go down as one of the finest wines this property has yet produced.