I tasted a good range of Côtes de Bordeaux at the annual Grand Cercle tastings during primeurs, held at Château Montlabert in St Emilion. First impressions of Bordeaux 2016 on the right bank was of a vintage defined by impressive texture and freshness with slightly more modest alcohols than usual. It is an interesting companion piece to the beautiful 2015 vintage. Excellent flowering conditions [in an otherwise damp start to the growing season] encouraged a good fruit set. The drought conditions which occurred in the high summer were relieved by period of brief but productive rain on 13 and 20 September. October was sunny and dry. Castillon stood out for me with very impressive efforts from Château Alcée, Château Cap de Faugères and Château d’Aiguilhe in particular, but there are some very good wines in all the Côtes de Bordeaux appellations. I was also struck by the quality of the wines in Francs from Nicolas Thienpont at Château La Prade and Château Puygueraud, as well as at Château de Franc. There a few wines that were characterised by comparatively high acidity and grip. I think these will settle nicely though and I’d be interested to see them further down the track.
Posts Tagged ‘Côtes de Bordeaux’
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.
Well, there is no doubt about it. 2016 is a fascinating red wine vintage in Bordeaux across all the appellations. The quality of the wines took me by surprise, as it did Bordeaux’s vignerons themselves. The growing season proved to be the proverbial game of two halves. Spring was very wet indeed with variable weather, save for a perfect flowering period. Remarkable drought conditions then followed, with sun and heat, though the high summer days had a considerable diurnal temperature range, with cool nights. The lack of rain was a real worry by the beginning of September [with rising vine stress], but the vintage was made [saved?] but two bouts of essential rain in September. This allowed the grapes to achieve final ripeness [beautiful ripeness in many cases] which has resulted in a range of concentrated reds, with remarkably succulent tannins, fresh acids and reasonable alcohols [ie under 14 degrees]. At the top level the balance seems better than in 2009, and less obviously tannic than 2010 at this early stage. Amongst the wines l managed to taste, the vintage seemed more homogeneous too than 2015 [the 2016 vintage succeeds on both the left and right banks]. Some properties may have made perhaps their best ever wines [though only time will tell]. 2016 didn’t seem to be an exciting vintage for dry whites, though many were well made considering the challenging drought conditions, they didn’t leap out of the glass. I’ll be writing a more detailed overview in the coming week but here are my first thoughts as I began my tastings last Saturday in St Emilion.
2015 is an excellent vintage for the Côtes de Bordeaux. I was especially impressed with Castillon and Francs this year, but there are also many very good wines to be had from Blaye, Cadillac, Sainte Foy and Bourg. There are seductive fruit tones to the reds, some on the voluptuous spectrum, others with more minerality. The ripeness is high [as are the alcohols] but there is also freshness too. Without doubt these appellations will provide some great bargains for the Bordeaux enthusiast. There are many excellent wines that are of grand cru classé quality but that will be without that price ticket. I will be looking to the Côtes de Bordeaux first for my own cellar in Bordeaux 2015s – and Castillon and Francs particularly.
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.
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.