I’ve recently been reunited with eight cases of Bordeaux that have been kindly stored in a friend’s cold cellar in Gloucestershire for half a dozen years. Much of it is pretty decent Bordeaux that finally coming into bloom from the 2005 vintage. There are also some 2006s, 2003s and 2000s from what are often seen as ‘lesser’ properties but which have provided wonderfully enjoyable drinking. The question that I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been reacquainting myself with these wines six years on is whether my taste for Bordeaux has changed…
Posts Tagged ‘St Julien’
I hope to expand on these tasting notes soon. Despite several [costly] speeding tickets that later turned up in the post, I arrived fractionally too late to the UGCB event held at Château Talbot to taste a number of wines from the St Julien commune. These included some of my favourites Gloria, Gruaud-Larose and St Pierre as well as the Bartons [Léoville and Langoa]. Below are the notes on the St Julien properties I did visit individually during primeurs week – Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Léoville-Las-Cases and Château Léoville Poyferré. There are also notes on Château Moulin Riche, Château du Glana, Clos du Marquis and Lalande-Borie. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to correct the omissions here at a later point.
As usual Bruno Borie provides a typically idiosyncratic but totally apt overview of the 2016 vintage. He sees it in biblical terms. First there was the ‘flood’ – the extremely wet conditions in the first four to five months of the year. Then the plague – the attacks of odium and mildew. This was followed by time in the wilderness – the exceptionally dry and hot summer. Finally they arrived in the ‘Promised Land’ – a late harvest in an Indian summer which has produced exceptional wine. 2016 certainly completes a remarkable trilogy of back to back vintages here at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. Qualitatively I feel it pips 2014 and even 2015.
As ever the St Julien’s of the Delon empire slow great purity and balance in 2016. Château Léoville-Las-Cases, even by the very high standards of this property, has produced an exceptional wine. The aromatics are deep and powerful but not at all over laden. There is such wonderful vibrancy here too on the palate. And the length – wow! It is a brilliant wine. Coming from entirely different terroir Clos du Marquis, often mistakenly identified as the second wine of Léoville-Las-Cases, also looks very good indeed. For me 2016 is the finest vintage here since the amazing 2009 and 2010 vintages. If these two vintages have fractionally greater depth, the balance in 2016 surpasses both.
The consistency at Château Léoville Poyferré has been wonderful over the past decade. The property regularly vies with Château Léoville-Las-Cases and Château Ducru Beaucaillou as the best wine of the appellation. It is amongst the finest made in Bordeaux. Great wine has been produced here in 2016. I don’t think I’m pushing the boat out too far in suggesting that Léoville Poyferré 2016 is verging on the quality of the 2005, 2009 and 2010 qualitatively speaking. The balance is phenomenal; the texture remarkable. Château Moulin Riche, made from a separate 20 hectare terroir in St Julien, may well be the best yet produced. It is certainly the most impressive sample I’ve tasted. Overall it underlines the excitement I felt when I tasted the top St Juliens in this vintage earlier in the year.
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.