In 2016 Pauillac has had the most collectively exciting vintage vintage since 2010. The texture of the tannin is remarkable and the balance is incredibly appealing. I’d go as far to say that, on the basis of the wines I tasted, this is my favourite vintage here since 2009. It has some of the qualities of 2005 and 2000 but the tannin feels more supple than both of those vintages to me [and tannin management has come a long way in the last ten to fifteen vintages]. My only caveat is that, owing to a shortage of time I missed out on tasting some old favourites including Château Batailley, Château Haut-Batailley, Château Lynch Bages, Château Pichon Longueville and Château Pichon Lalande. I hope to taste these wines in the not too distant future and will update this post when I do. In the meantime, here are my notes on fifteen wines from Pauillac in 2016. It includes notes on all the first growths and Château Pontet Canet.
Posts Tagged ‘Pauillac [Latour]’
Château Latour surely represents the pinnacle of winemaking achievement in Bordeaux. The majestic terroir beside the Gironde, the expertise of the technical and administrative team led by Frédéric Engerer as well as the general wherewithal and financial largesse of owner François Pinault all have coalesced to make Latour arguably the greatest red wine in the region. It has many rivals and is sometimes eclipsed but it is surely the benchmark to which all of Bordeaux’s [and the world’s] greatest Cabernet producers aspire. In 2016 Château Latour delivers the goods in spades but as it doesn’t do en primeur these days, you will have to slum it with their latest cellar release, Latour 2005. It is wonderful and built to last a century.
Château Latour has produced a focused set of wines in 2012. They have finesse and precision but felt perhaps a little leaner than 2011 at the same stage. Now that Latour have abandoned selling en primeur the snapshot of these wines in their youth is possibly a bit academic given that it will be a few years, at least, before even the most junior Pauillac will be released, let alone Les Forts and the grand vin itself. Handy, then, that the wine that stole the show on the morning I tasted at Latour was their Pauillac 2009, the current release of the ‘third’ wine. It’s stunning. Immediately it reminds you just how pedestrian much Pauillac is in 2012. Oh 2009, how we miss you!
There’s no doubt that 2011 is an inconsistent vintage in Bordeaux. The same problems that affected the region generally also had a big impact in Pauillac. Here, as elsewhere, a combination of drought, a warm, dry spring, followed by a cool autumnal summer, with occasional severe heat spikes, knocked the growth cycle out kilter. Pauillac has some of the greatest terroir on earth of course. It makes it naturally well insured against the most meagre and challenging of years. Given too the extraordinary level of investment in the vineyards and the cellars over the past decade, plus obsessive attention to detail and daily micromanagement at the finest properties, it’s hardly surprising, then, that the best estates here deliver an extremely decent glass of 2011. So much so in fact you almost forget what a tricky harvest this was to grow and vinify. Almost….
There is no doubt that Latour has produced a set of extraordinary wines in 2010. There is profound depth, concentration and freshness here in the wines. Chateau Latour itself, which represents only 36% of the total production of the harvest, is dense and concentrated with real minerality and focus. It is outstanding. So too is Les Forts de Latour, a separate wine in its own right made from plots outside the main walled vineyard [the Enclos], but this year also including some fruit that usually would have made it to the grand vin. Les Forts was absolutely dazzling on the day and to me it is of first growth quality. It is 40% of the production, the remaining 24% going into a clean and very pure Pauillac.