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 de La Dauphine’
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.
A dozen or so wines tasted from Canon-Fronsac and Fronsac were generally a rather lean bunch last month. There’s structure here and serious intent in some but not a huge amount of joy. The picks would have to be from Fronsac and include Château Les Trois Croix, Château Fontenil, Château de Carlmagnus and Château Dalem. Château La Vieille Cure is chewy and needs to settle while Château de La Dauphine, often excellent, has made something elegant, if rather light.
These appellations have produced a serious set of wines in 2012. There is plenty of fruit, complexity in many cases and no shortage of style. I’d expect these to be well priced and should prove good buys, better bets frankly than many of their similarly priced counterparts on the Haut-Médoc in this vintage. As you’d expect of Fronsac/Canon-Fronsac the wines are more structured than many of those in the Côtes de Bordeaux, less lush, more intellectual. Having just said that Chateau de la Dauphine looks an absolute treat. It is really seductive.
So we have a week to collect ourselves during Vinexpo, Bordeaux’s wine trade fair that runs this week, to assess just where we are with the controversial release prices of the 2010 Bordeaux vintage. If you thought prices for 2009 were a bit heady then so far the prices of some 2010s have been eye-watering. In certain notable cases prices are up 40% year on year and that on top of similar increases last year. You wonder why Bank of England chief Mervyn King is losing sleep about the UK’s paltry 4.5% inflation rate. Small beer Merv, get with it. Bordeaux’s up ten times as much.