Margaux played a blinder as an appellation in 2015. While that vintage proved tricky further north on the left bank due to rain, Margaux produced some of its best ever wine. 2016 can also be considered a great success. These are two fascinating vintages to compare here. Coming to these wines earlier this year I was concerned that the 2016 summer drought may have affected some of Margaux’s drier terroirs but, with a few exceptions, this didn’t appear to be the case. At the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux’s tasting generally there was plenty of that wonderful Margaux perfume on offer, lots of ripe fruit and the beautifully textured tannin that so defines this vintage. If there was over extraction in some, many have made wines to rival and even exceed 2015.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Durfort-Vivens’
I’ve missed out on tasting Château Durfort-Vivens for the past few years during primeurs. I’m very sorry that I have. Durfort-Vivens is now biodynamically farmed and their 2016 looks to be a fantastic wine in the making. The emphasis is on the most beautiful aromatics. The delicacy of the wine on the palate is alluring. Yet this intriguing combination also hides power and scale. It is the best wine I have had recently from this property that has superb terroir adjacent to Château Rauzan Ségla, Château Palmer and Château Margaux. Château Ferrière and Château La Gurgue also looked very good indeed when tasted at the property. They have that beautiful Margaux perfume.
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.
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.
Seventeen wines from the Margaux appellation in 2010 were shown by the MW Institute late last year. While there’s variation, generally the wines shown were very impressive. They have vivid fruit characters and show attractive tension and freshness. Once again there is more structure, grip and tannin evident in the wines than in 2009 so, in general, these 2010s need more time in bottle to show their best. At the top end Château Margaux [pictured here] has produced a 2010 every bit as good as its 2009. It is a fabulous effort. This is closely followed by an extremely plush and concentrated wine from Château Palmer, perhaps even better than their glorious 2009? Château Brane-Cantenac and Château Giscours are both beautiful. They show depth, purity and elegance. Château Lascombes is typically lush and forward while at the other end of the scale Château Rauzan-Ségla is dense and long term. Structured, balanced wines have also been made at Château Durfort-Vivens, Château Ferrière, Château Kirwan and Château du Tertre. Château Prieuré-Lichine and Château Rauzan-Gassies are full and gutsy.
Originally I was impressed by the overall quality of the Margaux appellation in 2012 during primeurs. Last month’s UGCB tasting in London has done nothing to shake the belief that many properties here have, by and large, made a set of enjoyable, reasonably full and delicious wines. There is appetizing vigour and sap in the best but plenty of plush Merlot fruit in evidence too. This variety really succeeded in 2012. It gives a forward and attractive aspect. There is elegance – this is not a set of blockbuster wines by any means – but the balance and harmony is striking. The vintage clearly plays to the virtues of the appellation. Early maturing Margaux for sure, these wines are generally more homogeneous and enjoyable for me than 2006, 2007, probably 2008, and certainly 2011 and 2013.