Many of the red wines tasted during my visit to Bordeaux this April had freshness, engaging aromas, juicy fruit flavours, reasonable depth and generally soft tannins. On this basis 2017 is surely a good vintage? Well yes. For the best properties we’re talking of wines with elements of 2014, 2012 and 2008, possibly a combination of all three in certain places. Things are more exciting for the whites [it looks to be a brilliant year] and Sauternes too has excelled again. But these generalisations hide a somewhat heterogeneous vintage.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Dalem’
My final day tasting primeurs 2017 took me again to the right bank. First it was to Fronsac and Château La Dauphine who held the Grand Cercle press tasting. A comprehensive look at the Côtes de Bordeaux revealed a little irregularity but many successes. Château Veyry, Château Cap de Faugères and Clos Puy Arnaud were good in Castillon, Château Réaut and Château Reynon impressed in Cadillac, with a stylish Château Haut Bertinerie in Blaye. In Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac the wines felt more homogeneous. I will write in detail later, but Château La Vieille Cure, Château Gaby, Château Dalem, Château de la Rivière, Château de la Dauphine were excellent. In Pomerol and Lalande de Pomerol some wines lacked depth, but there was also plenty of bright perfumed fruit on offer with fresh acidities. Château Taillefer, Château Feytit-Clinet, Château La Clemence and Château Bourgneuf all looked good. In Lalande de Pomerol, Château Tournefeuille and Château Jean de Gué showed well.
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.
Well, there is no doubt about it. 2016 is a fascinating red wine vintage in Bordeaux across all the appellations. The quality of the wines took me by surprise, as it did Bordeaux’s vignerons themselves. The growing season proved to be the proverbial game of two halves. Spring was very wet indeed with variable weather, save for a perfect flowering period. Remarkable drought conditions then followed, with sun and heat, though the high summer days had a considerable diurnal temperature range, with cool nights. The lack of rain was a real worry by the beginning of September [with rising vine stress], but the vintage was made [saved?] but two bouts of essential rain in September. This allowed the grapes to achieve final ripeness [beautiful ripeness in many cases] which has resulted in a range of concentrated reds, with remarkably succulent tannins, fresh acids and reasonable alcohols [ie under 14 degrees]. At the top level the balance seems better than in 2009, and less obviously tannic than 2010 at this early stage. Amongst the wines l managed to taste, the vintage seemed more homogeneous too than 2015 [the 2016 vintage succeeds on both the left and right banks]. Some properties may have made perhaps their best ever wines [though only time will tell]. 2016 didn’t seem to be an exciting vintage for dry whites, though many were well made considering the challenging drought conditions, they didn’t leap out of the glass. I’ll be writing a more detailed overview in the coming week but here are my first thoughts as I began my tastings last Saturday in St Emilion.
There is elegance and sophistication in Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac in 2015. These appellations don’t produce the kind of ripe blockbusters you find in St Emilion or Castillon, but there is genuine grace and refinement here. These are wines that put on weight during elévage but often seem thoughtful and pensive early on. The picks for me tasted blind at the Grand Cercle event organised at Château Bellefont-Belcier were Château Barrabaque in Canon-Fronsac and Château Dalem, Château Fontenil, Château Moulin Haut-Laroque, Château Les Trois Croix and Château Villars in Fronsac. All these wines have ample fruit, structure and plenty of style. Château La Vieille Cure usually does very well in Fronsac but the sample I tasted felt odd to me and I didn’t have the time to taste an alternate sample unfortunately.
There are good wines to be had in Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac in 2014. Eleven wines tasted blind shown by the Grand Cercle last month in St Emilion had attractive fruit tones, freshness and a fair bit of ambition. These wines appear to have early to medium term prospects but are probably best enjoyed in their youth when they are vibrant and full of fruit. That said several have the structure to age for up to a decade. The picks for me were Château Dalem, Haut-Carles, Château La Vielle Cure and Château Les Trois Croix in Fronsac and Château Moulin Pey-Labrie and Château Gaby in Canon-Fronsac.