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 ‘Listrac’
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.
The neighbouring appellations of Moulis and Listrac provide an important source of good value, high-quality Bordeaux. Both have succeeded in 2015. Listrac continues its modern march towards a softer more supple style, and the qualities of the vintage – harmony and balance – accentuate this. I was especially impressed with Château Clarke, but there are very positive efforts from Château Ducluzeau, Château Fourcas-Borie, Château Fourcas-Dupré and Château Fourcas Hosten. In Moulis, Château Poujeaux reigns supreme, year in year out, but there is another good effort in 2015 from Château Maucaillou.
Fans of the sturdy and ambitious wines of Moulis and Listrac will have a lot to enjoy in 2014. This is undoubtedly the best vintage here since 2010. As usual there is a lot of freshness to the wines, but in most cases the fruit is genuinely ripe and the tannins well handled. Château Poujeaux once again leads the field. It has produced an impressive wine of depth and polish. Do look out for the excellent effort from Château Maucaillou and good wine has also been made at Chateau Anthonic. Château Chasse-Spleen is fresh and elegant, though it needs to fill out. In Listrac, Château Fourcas Hosten and Château Fourcas Dupré look very good as usual, and there is an excellent effort from Château Clarke.
Thursday’s 2014 primeurs tastings started at Château Latour and the wines showed impressive blackcurrant purity and freshness. Since Latour have withdrawn from the primeurs system, the current releases were also on show including their wonderful 2003 [more on this later]. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste has also produced very refined and balanced wines in 2014 [including Haut-Batailley]. Lynch Moussas held the UGC tastings for St Estèphe and Pauillac. Top for me amongst the Pauillacs were Batailley, Lynch-Bages and an excellent Pichon Baron. In St Estèphe, Lafon Rochet is full and harmonious and Ormes de Pez concentrated. There was inconsistency in a few others, with hard tannins in some. At Pontet-Canet the chais was packed with visitors and the wine was round and vivacious. Pichon Lalande too has succeeded with a powerful wine with attractive fragrance. Cabernet has certainly done well in the Left Bank this year.
Moulis and Listrac are two of my favourite appellations in Bordeaux for value. The wines have a reputation for being full-flavoured and gutsy but the top wines have as much finesse as the Haut-Médoc classed growths. 2012 looks to have produced good wines in these districts. Though they are not the show-stoppers of 2009 and 2010, they seem to have more harmony than 2007, 2011 and 2013 and are more forward and immediately enjoyable than 2008 was at the same stage. The stand-out for me this year across both appellations was Château Maucaillou which has produced a delicious wine. Château Poujeaux, Château Fourcas Hosten and Château Fourcas Dupré also look successful in 2012.