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.
Posts Tagged ‘Cru Bourgeois’
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.
It was in the Médoc that the vintage showers of September 2015 were heaviest. Their effect has led to a degree of heterogeneity in the wines. Tasting many Médocs at the Cru Bourgeois event held at Château d’Arsac back in April I was struck by the variability. The rain arrived on the eve of the Merlot harvest which was unfortunate, in what was otherwise an excellent growing season with regard to quality. The top properties [Potensac, Goulée, Les Grands Chênes, La Tour de By and Loudenne for example] have made impressive wines; others were easy going and soft; quite a few felt a little dilute. Unlike 2014, which was a pretty safe bet in my opinion up in the Médoc, 2015 seems a more uneven prospect. There are some good wines, but the picture is complex.
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.
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.
Margaux has had a good to very good vintage in 2014. It vies with 2012 as being the best year here since 2010. The quality is not quite as outstanding as it is further north in the Haut-Médoc [St Estèphe, for example has produced wines that rival 2010] but I was still impressed with many of the wines in Margaux for their balance and elegance. Things feel significantly more homogeneous here than in the past in what remains a very heterogeneous and large appellation. Out side of Château Margaux and Château Palmer I was very impressed with Château Brane Cantenac, Château Giscours, Château Lascombes, Château Marquis de Terme and Château Rauzan-Ségla. There are good efforts too from Château Angludet, Château Cantenac Brown, Château Kirwan, Château Labégorce, Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, Château Rauzan Gassies and Château Siran.