Château Lafite-Rothschild can be the most enigmatic of the Pauillac first growths. Certain vintages, like 2009 and 2010, are knockout from the off. But some vintages are not easy to judge young. Lafite 2015, was reticent when I tasted it in April. It exhibited elegance and composure for sure, but it was far less assertive in comparison with wines from other top properties tasted on the same day. Lafite has received glowing reviews elsewhere, I should point out, so you might wish to flag my notes as outsider scores. I also found the samples of Carruades and Château Duhart Milon elegant and lacking concentration. I’d expect all these samples to gain weight during elévage, but let’s just say they were the least expressive wines among Pauillac‘s top tier that I tasted.
Posts Tagged ‘Grand Cru Classé’
Back to Bordeaux, and straight to the top. Château Mouton Rothschild, alongside Latour, led Pauillac this year for me. Mouton 2015 has power and depth but also harmony. It goes down in my book as the most impressive wine here since 2010 [though as at many Médoc properties the 2014 may yet give it a run for its money]. Le Petit Mouton also impressed and both Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc-Milon look good this year. The bad news is that prices are up substantially on 2014, by 60% in the case of Mouton itself. Further exchange rate instability in the UK at least may also influence the price at which Mouton is offered.
Château Pontet-Canet is on a roll, the biodynamic wind speeding its sails. The thoughtful and determined approach of Alfred Tesseron and his family, together with right-hand man Jean-Michel Comme, have shepherded this Pauillac estate to the top of its game. Pontet Canet 2015 is a deep, seductive beauty. It has wonderful fruit tones and texture. The holistic approach here appears to be influencing harvest dates, with the grapes achieving phenolic ripeness earlier. This was handy in 2015 as the last of the Cabernet came in on October 3, just as the rains began to arrive.
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste produces some of Pauillac’s finest wine, year in, year out. It regularly tops Liv-Ex’s post primeurs straw poll of wine merchants’ value picks. The 2015 is definitely a success for the chateau. Sibling Château Haut-Batailley, from Pauillac vineyards that border St Julien, shows similar finesse and balance to ‘GPL’ but at a keener price. There is a sense that the 2015 vintage here could be seen to be a modern day version of 1985. There is certainly the grace and harmony of that vintage in the wines, as well as the freshness. Vineyard management and winemaking have of course changed significantly in the thirty years since 1985.
Didier Cuvelier is rightly proud of Chateau Léoville-Poyferré 2015. This is extremely fine St Julien. While it doesn’t surpass the remarkable wines made here in 2009 and 2010, it is undoubtedly excellent. It feels a little backward at present, so consider that it will need a decade before it starts showing its real form. Cuvelier compares it a little to the 2001 here. Château Moulin Riche benefits from the same expertise as Léoville Poyferré but comes from different twenty-hectare terroir in St Julien. It is not to be confused with Pavillon de Poyferré, the second wine of Léoville Poyferré. Moulin Riche is well structured and fine in 2015.
Château Palmer is currently on-song. It has hit top marks in virtually every vintage in the past decade. The 2015 continues this run of form in an exceptional way. There is no doubt that the growing season and rainfall pattern in September favoured the Margaux appellation over everywhere else in the Médoc. Many properties here have made some of their best ever wines. At Palmer they have produced a powerful Margaux that easily rivals 2009 and 2010. It may even surpass them. The fruit qualities are glorious. Despite the concentration there is harmony and a tannic structure that is remarkably supple. It is the classic iron fist in a velvet glove.