So what are the principal characteristics of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage? Firstly there is a real beauty to the fruit tones in the red wines this year. Time after time, especially on the Right Bank but also on the Left I kept writing ‘beautiful,’ ‘pretty,’ and ‘delicious.’ There is freshness, despite pretty high alcohols in the main. The vintage is almost a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2010, but with less evident structure and weight than those vintages. For me it recalls 1985 in terms of that vintage’s early beauty and freshness – and ‘85 remains in great shape today. But the 2015 vintage is by no means homogeneous. In fact there is considerable variability. What is in no doubt is that ‘15 is terrific in St Emilion. There is concentration and delight in so many wines there this year. It has also been strong vintage in the surrounding Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, especially Castillon and Francs.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Pavie Macquin’
It was an exciting start to the Bordeaux primeurs week over in St Emilion on Sunday. By the looks of things so far, St Emilion was as good a place as any to start tasting Bordeaux 2015. All vintages have their complexities but perhaps ‘15 seems to favour the right bank over the left in many respects at this early stage. At the Grand Cercle tastings held at Château Bellefont Belcier there were a number of wines from the various Côtes de Bordeaux appellations, especially the Côtes de Castillon, the Côtes de Francs and Fronsac that impressed. It looks like there are many excellent St Emilions to be had in 2015 too. The St Emilion Grand Crus and the St Emilion Grand Cru Classés showed very well indeed. Pomerol showed slightly less well but I will look in more detail at the appellation Wednesday. I also had the opportunity on Sunday to taste the range of right bank estates run by Nicolas Thienpont. They have produced a very exciting St Emilion at Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Pavie-Maquin and Château Beauséjour. These are a very harmonious set of wines indeed.
Overall 2014 is an impressive vintage judging from what was in the glass in many of the St Emilion’s tasted during primeurs week last month. There is perhaps more weight and structure than 2012 [itself a very good vintage in St Emilion] and, overall, 2014 is probably the best since 2009 and 2010. It also has greater apparent acidity than in those two years. What’s exciting is the combination of the freshness, the aromatics and the depth in the best wines. There are also excellent wines at all levels, not just at the top echelons. That means there is value to be had in 2014, where the price is right. Overall it is undoubtedly an excellent year for Cabernet Franc here. The variety loved the Indian summer. Merlot is also impressive on the best terroirs. It’s a generalization, but the wines seemed less over-extracted than usual, with greater emphasis on proportionality and harmony. This may be the vintage speaking, but let’s hope it reflects more balanced, adaptive winemaking approaches. And even where properties have gone hell for leather, generally the ball stays in the air. The notes on the following 107 wines represents my most comprehensive primeurs tastings yet of the wines of St Emilion.
Cyrille Thienpont showed the range of wines that the Thienponts manage on the Right Bank at a comprehensive tasting at Château Pavie Macquin earlier this month. The jewels here are in St Emilion and include Château Berliquet, Château Larcis Ducasse, Château Pavie Macquin itself and Château Beauséjour [hDL]. These wines look very good indeed in 2014. Larcis Ducasse has beautiful ripeness and seduction, Pavie-Macquin power and strength and Beauséjour fantastic purity. The Nicolas Thienpont properties in the Côtes de Francs [Château Puyregaud and Château La Prade] and the Côtes de Castillon [Château Alcée] are also very much worth considering in 2014. On the question of whether the vintage is a year for the Cabernets [Franc especially so here on the Right Bank] Cyrille Thienpont sees that is it just as much a question of soils as varieties. Cabernet Franc from the best terroirs is very good indeed and benefitted the most from the September and October sun, but in the right spots the Merlot has succeeded well too.
Bordeaux’s primeurs week ended for me, as it began, in St Emilion. While perhaps 2014 will be seen as a vintage for the Cabernets and therefore the Left Bank, there is in fact a lot to like about the texture and freshness of the best wines from Pomerol and St Emilion. Cyrille Thienpont who works with his father at many Right Bank properties [including Berliquet, Larcis-Ducasse and Pavie-Macquin], said it was as much the terroir that mattered [well drained, clay-limestone] as the variety [Merlot/Cabernet] in St Emilion. These thoughts were echoed in Pomerol by his cousin Alexandre Thienpont at Vieux Château Certan [the 2014 VCC is an intellectual beauty by the way]. What pleased him was the marriage of the Merlot and the Cabernet on his property. The vintage, he believes, allowed the elements to combine well, and that the strength of the wine [and perhaps the vintage?] was in the combination rather than in any of the particular elements here on the Right Bank.
The highlights from Wednesday’s 2014 tastings were the juicy, appetizing quality of the Pomerols shown at JP Moueix and the depth and breadth of the white wines in Pessac-Léognan. In St Emilion there are some impressive wines [Figeac, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet] but there is some inconsistency – some reds are a little extracted relative to their fruit. The best had bright vivacious qualities, and there was certainly a voluptuous aspect to the set of Neipperg wines shown at Canon-la-Gaffelière. There was plenty of extract, matter and acidity on display amongst the reds at the UGC event held at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. I generally enjoyed the more composed and harmonious – Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier, Pape Clément and Smith Haut Lafitte were especially impressive.