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.
Posts Tagged ‘Château d’Arcins’
I spent a second day in St Emilion, starting at Château Pavie-Macquin to taste the range of wines that Nicolas Thienpont crafts as well as listening to a review of the climatological aspects of the vintage. It was an opportunity to hear Stéphane Derenoncourt discuss his thoughts on 2016 as a ‘miracle’ vintage. He sees it as the third in a trilogy of impressive vintages starting in 2014. Next up was Château Angélus to look at their stable of wines and discuss the vintage with Hubert de Boüard as well as examine the expanding range that he consults for. This gave me an opportunity to taste the first of a series of seriously impressive wines from the left bank in Pauillac and the Haut-Médoc. I then completed tastings at the Grand Cercle held at Château Montlabert. Here I assessed a dozen or so St Emilion Grand Cru Classés [generally exciting and homogeneous] as well as tasting more wines from the left bank appellations St Julien, Pauillac, Margaux and the Haut-Médoc. My overall feelings was how exciting this vintage is for both right and left bank, perhaps left especially.
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.
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.
Thursday’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.
For me the wines of the Haut-Médoc performed much better than I feared during primeurs 2013. Expecting the worst, I was generally encouraged and came away feeling that many had made the best of the poor hand the growing season had dealt them. There were casualties though. Château Malescasse and Château La Lagune will not release 2013s. Nevertheless Château Cantemerle [as ever], Château Belle-Vue and Château La Tour Carnet have produced good wines. Château Cissac, Château Belgrave, Château de Camensac and Château Larose-Trintaudon were also encouraging and should offer good value.