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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Potensac’
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.
2014’s Indian summer looks to have proved very successful for the quality of the Médoc vintage and its raft of enjoyable crus bourgeois [tasted at Château d’Arsac in photo]. There are plenty of properties to recommend here. It is a vintage that suits the virtues of the appellation. The wines are vigourous, as you’d expect, but also with considerable depth of fruit and concentration. They offer medium term prospects for the cellar [long term in certain cases] but their aromatic complexity and freshness will make them enjoyable early on. Yields are down for some properties, particularly those who suffered from the catastrophic hailstorm of early June. Without a doubt, qualitatively speaking 2014 is the best vintage here since 2010. It is particularly successful for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varieties.
A dozen 2013 Médoc cru bourgeois and others tasted during primeurs week in April were generally light, fresh and vigorous. Château Potensac stands out as a genuine success. It’s a good wine and excellent in the vintage context. Goulée, by the ambitious team at Cos d’Estournel, is also vibrant and refreshing. Château Patache d’Aux, Château La Tour de By, Château Les Ormes Sorbet, Château Loudenne and Château Blaignan are also successful for the vintage.
The 2012 growing season was as tricky up in the northern Médoc as it was elsewhere on the left bank, with the advantage here that the blends often have a higher proportion of Merlot, the variety that succeeded in the vintage. Not that Merlot escaped entirely. One of the consequences of the very cool weather around flowering was considerable flower shatter [coulure] on the Merlot, reducing yields, although this was reported as having a positive effect on quality, increasing concentration. Nevertheless the cool and wet start to the growing season certainly led to uneven development in the grapes. Ripening did catch up with the warmer and very dry period spanning mid-July to late September, but the harvest was always going to be a late one, one that would ultimately be influenced by October’s wet weather. Nevertheless the best wines have good fruit and weight from the Merlot.
Less joy for me in this appellation in 2010 than in 2009s. The latter look more seductive and wondrous by comparison. Only a few estates have produced wines of comparable quality in my mind, Chateau Belgrave and especially Chateau Cantemerle spring to mind. Chateau La Lagune is also very good. I expected more from Chateau La Tour Carnet but there is just too much Magrez make-up [ie new oak] and the pedal feels pushed right to the floor. Overall there is a lot of dry tannin and grip dominating the fruit in a great many cases. They will settle of course but I’d opt for any remaining 2009s still on the market now. You could be taking delivery of these next year and be drinking them from the off. As good as some are in 2010 you’ll be waiting an age for them to settle. It’s a case of chalk and cheese.