Saturday morning started in the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. It’s always a tasting that I look forward to. Thunevin is candid about the late April 2017 frost which hit the right bank hard. Some of his properties and those he consults for were unscathed, some were left slightly affected, and others have been decimated. In some the effect is simply on volumes, in others it has also affected quality and style. I’ll write in more detail on St Emilion in a future post but the good news is that qualitatively Château Valandraud is excellent. It has wonderful perfume and layers of fruit. For me it is up there certainly with the 2012 and the 2014. St Emilion Grand Cru Clos Badon is in good shape [but very low production]. Jean-Luc’s Pomerol Le Clos du Beau Père also looks good.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau La Tour Carnet’
My second day tasting Bordeaux 2017 started in bright sunshine at Château Haut Bailly. The purity of the wine in the past few vintages here has been unsurpassed and their terroir in Pessac-Léognan is wonderful. Frost took out a plot from production but there is finesse and elegance to this 2017. Ten minutes away, in contrasting but equally beautiful terroir, Château Smith Haut Lafitte has delivered the goods once again. The whites are brilliant, showing what a great vintage 2017 is here potentially for white wine. The reds are plump, and very well-upholstered with plenty of fruit and freshness. Excellent stuff. At Château La Mission Haut-Brion the remarkable quality of the whites was again underscored. Château La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and Château Haut-Brion Blanc are fabulous – though they never put a foot wrong with the whites mind. The reds are impressive, combining of the structure and fruit of 2014 perhaps with the freshness of 2008. La Mission is more approachable than usual in 2017 and Haut-Brion felt the fractionally deeper of the two. Both show wonderful purity.
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.
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.
Day three on primeurs week saw me start off in Margaux with an early morning tasting with Thomas Duroux at Château Palmer. There is great depth to Palmer in 2015. It looks to be an exciting vintage in the appellation. Though there is some variation in experience, Margaux, overall, had less of the September rain that dampened things further up the Haut-Médoc. An emotional trip to Château Margaux then beckoned. This was the first primeurs tasting in the château’s new Norman Foster designed chais and winemaking facility. Obviously it was also the first primeurs for thirty years or more unaccompanied by Paul Pontallier. It was an emotional experience. All the things he had worked for at Margaux had come true – an impressive new cellar and a beautiful wine in 2015 – a fitting epitaph for a fine man.