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 Le Crock’
There is no doubt that 2016 is a brilliant year for St Estèphe. The dry summer and sunny harvest conditions played to the strengths of the terroir here. I’ve already marvelled at the harmony and balance of the wines at Château Calon Ségur, Château Montrose and Château Cos d’Estournel in this vintage, but, as ever, there are a bevy of other wines at lower price points that have produced wonderful red wine. Château Beau-Site, Château Le Boscq, Château Capbern, Château Le Crock, Château Domeyne, Château Haut-Marbuzet and Château Meyney, to name a few, have all made excellent wines. St Estèphe is really an appellation to seek out in 2016 [as in 2014 too]. It is also one of my favourite Bordeaux appellations.
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.
St Estèphe has made some very good wine in 2015 but the appellation has not done as well as in 2014 in my book. This is down to the heavy rain showers in mid September, the residual effect of ‘Storm Henry,’ that arrived on the eve of the Merlot harvest, a key varietal component to many of the wines in St Estèphe. While conditions improved from mid September until early October, how estates and different terroirs responded to these conditions determined the relative levels of success. There are some top wines in the appellation – Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Montrose, Château Calon-Ségur, Château Lafon-Rochet and Château Meyney spring to mind – but there is not the uniformity here for me of 2014, nor the exciting power in the wines. Whether 2015 will claw back some of that ground during elévage remains to be seen.
For me St Estèphe has produced some of the 2014 vintage’s most exciting wines. I’ve already written on Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Calon Ségur and Château Montrose who have jointly produced a set of 2014s can will probably hold their own alongside their remarkable 2010s. But this is not the end of the story. Very impressive wines have also been made at Château Capbern, Château Lafon-Rochet, Château Meyney, Château Ormes de Pez, Château Phélan Ségur, and Château Tronquoy-Lalande. Château Le Boscq, Château La Commanderie, Château Le Crock are all potentially excellent too. I’m a great fan of this appellation usually but 2014 is a wonderful vintage here. Given the reasonable pricing of so many of these wines, this vintage provides an excellent hunting ground for price-savvy Bordeaux enthusiasts.
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.