Only seven wines from Pomerol were shown at the MW 2016 tasting back in late 2021. They were all thrilling. The pick for me was Château La Conseillante. This is so plush and layered, yet despite the density and concentration it dazzles and dances on the palate. What a wine. Château Trotanoy was its equal. It was cool and fresh yet with layer upon layer of flavour. Wonderful balance. Super wines have also been made by Château Clinet and Château Gazin. The former creamy and opulent as usual, the latter, sturdy with plenty of textured fruit and notes of smoked charcuterie and meats. Château Hosanna showed excellent purity and Château La Fleur Pétrus had wonderfully plummy fruit tones with texture and depth. Château Nénin was jam packed with plum and black cherry fruit. This property has advanced so much since the Delon tenure here.
There’s a fascinating on-going discussion to be had about any vintage. It’s a conversation that shifts as the wines develop and age, and how they start to compare with the other vintages that surround them. From the outset, 2016 was both spellbinding and consistent across all the appellations. This remains the case today. St Emilion has also produced a collection of beauties in this vintage comparable in quality to the other principal Bordeaux appellations. If they don’t have the sheer volume and alcohol of more recent successful vintages here [I’m thinking 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022] 2016 more importantly has finesse and it is the balance of these wines in this vintage that remains so striking. They are appetizing and superbly balanced in the main. The picks in the MW’s line up of St Emilions? Well, Château Angélus and Château Figeac really impressed but there were terrific efforts also from Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, Château Bellevue, Château Canon and Château Fonplégade. Château Cheval Blanc was focused and textured but a little subdued. Château Belair-Monange had also retreated into its shell. Chateau Quintus and Château Troplong-Mondot were both bold and rich, the latter too much for me. I think it’s fair to say that this was probably the end of the old style of late-picked highly extracted efforts at Troplong-Mondot. New broom Aymeric de Gironde has brought in a fresher more appetizing style in recent vintages.
There are lots of great wines in Pessac-Léognan in the 2016 vintage. You’d expect superlative efforts from the likes of Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion. But there are also magnificent wines from the appellation’s defacto first growths Château Haut-Bailly and Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Brilliant, yet contrasting red wines have been made here. Fractionally outside this club, but only fractionally, is Domaine de Chevalier. Year in, year out this is one of the highest quality, dependable but won’t [entirely] ‘break-the-bank’ reds in all of Bordeaux. Fine wines have also been made at Château Bouscaut, Château Fieuzal, Château Malartic Lagravière. Château Latour Martillac is drinking well, already offering textbook earthy Graves. That said, overall, at the top level these are still wines that need another two or three years in bottle to get really into gear. In some senses a few have crept into their shells since earlier tastings. These will improve further in complexity over the next decade and expect them to last well into the middle of the century.
There’s no doubt that many of the Haut-Médoc 2016s are now hitting their stride. There are a great many wonderful wines to be had at good prices in this appellation which deliver a lot of satisfaction. Amongst the small range shown at the MW Institute’s 2016 tasting at the end of 2021, Château La Lagune, Château La Tour Carnet and Château Cantemerle showed really well. Château Belgrave had a lot of depth and structure but felt like it needed a year or two more at the time of tasting. Separately I’ve since had Château Sénéjac and Château Citran 2016s recently and they have impressed too. The following notes were taken at the MW Institute tasting in December 2021. I hope you find them useful. The wines should have continued to open up and develop nicely since then.