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Bordeaux 2015: Margaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0906Margaux has had a great vintage in 2015. The quality is wonderfully homogeneous this year. The wines have attractive perfume and exciting purity. Many display exceptional balance and in most cases nicely judged extraction. The appellation is topped by Château Margaux and Château Palmer, but it’s fair to say that qualitatively Château Brane-Cantenac, Château Giscours and Chateau Rauzan-Ségla are not much behind. Many reviewers have spotted the quality of Giscours this year in particular. It is exceptional. Yet the real beauty of Margaux in 2015 is that there is quality across the range. Many properties have made some of their potentially best ever wines. Still, whether these justify some of the price rises [up as much as 44% on 2014] remains to be seen.

If we subtract the unarguable importance of terroir, then the quality of 2015 in Margaux is down to two things. Firstly, the nature of the vintage. It played wonderfully to the strengths of the appellation. A beautiful flowering and the hot dry weather that continued to mid July ensured the potential quality of the vintage. The rain in August, but with temperatures still warm, allowed for successful veraison and reduced vine stress on the more gravelly soils. Importantly September was comparatively dry. The rain that dampened things further up the Médoc in 2015 wasn’t heavy in Margaux. September also had comparatively cool night time temperatures, which allowed the fruit to retain goodish natural acidity and achieve perfect phenolic maturation, but not at excessive alcohols.

IMG_0902Giscours exceptional but up 44% in price

Secondly, and this is important, many Margaux winemakers who previously went hell for leather in the cellar, seem to be stepping off the gas. I was reassured by the composure and harmony of many, including some such as Château Cantenac Brown, who have now opted [rightly] for a less extractive style. As a lover of the wines of this appellation, this is all excellent news.

But now for what you don’t want to hear. If you are a UK buyer [and even if you aren’t] then the prices of some Margaux properties that have already released are up substantially on 2014. Some have risen sharply. If you check the Liv-Ex analysis then you are looking at increases of 44% for Giscours and 30% at Lascombes over their 2014 releases in the UK. So while we’re looking at an exciting vintage in Margaux, these prices are far from mouth watering. Depending on the estate in question, I’d be looking at 2010, 2009 and 2005 very carefully before you rush out and tie up your money on any 2015s, regardless of the success of the vintage.

My picks overall? In addition to those listed at the top of the post, I was impressed with Prieuré-Lichine, Lascombes and Rauzan-Gassies, Marquis de Termes, du Tertre and Angludet, Monbrison, Labégorce and Siran at the UGCB tasting. Chateau Paveil de Luze looked impressive along with Chateau d’Arsac at the Cru Bourgeois event I attended.

Below are thoughts and notes on the wines tasted….as I say, the quality is exciting, not so much [so far] the price……

Alter Ego, Margaux, 2015

Mid depth, earthy purple; lots of fruit; quite strong; fatness here; but also some strength; fresh acidity; good texture; elegant style; supple at the end; some sap and chew on the finish but satisfying. [52% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 37hl/ha]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+

Château Angludet, Margaux

Deep colour; tight to rim; purple; summer fruits; quite loaded here; blackcurrants; fresh cherry; violet perfume; fresh entry on the palate; plenty of fruit and spicy notes; freshness too; very pure Margaux; nice sap on the finish. Appetizing style. Excellent Angludet. [40% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot 13.6% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Château Bellevue de Tayac, Margaux

Mid depth; spicy, cake like qualities; some plums; quite sexy; some lift; supple and round palate with a soft, easy finish. Attractive and forward. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89

Château Brane-Cantenac, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated looking; healthy; lovely purity to the nose; layers; Cabernet dominates; cassis; blackcurrants; black cherry; fresh and ripe; lovely palate; some tension; pure and cool overall; pretty seductive wine; some floral notes; cool and sleek with nice extract, depth and length. Lovely Brane-Cantenac. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Carmenere, 13.6%alc]. Drink 2022-2035. 93-95+

Château Cantenac Brown, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated look; purple at edge; tight to rim; redcurrants and black fruits; pretty and voluptuous on the nose; nice entry on the palate; more creamy and round than usual; black cherry notes; harmony here this year. The first vintage at Cantenac Brown that is genuinely appealing at this stage. Evidence that they are stepping off the gas here in extraction terms. One to consider this year – depending on price. [61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 60% new oak, 13.8% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Château d’Arsac, Margaux

Deep saturated colour; tight to rim; some perfume; depth; little spice; soft entry; ripe qualities; depth here; elegance; should fill out nicely. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2025. 86-88

Château Dauzac, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated look; purple at edge; pretty; emphasis on the fruit; creamy black cherry notes; some freshness alongside the blackcurrant jam tones; nice attack on the palate; good fruit; much more clarity than usual here; fruit is left to speak here rather than the winemaking; tight on the finish where the extract finally comes through; more measured and elegant Dauzac than usual – and all the better for it. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92

Château Desmirail, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Healthy colour; forward aromatics; spices; fruitcake and mineral notes; bright fruit on the palate; nicely melded; pain grillé notes; forward and early drinking Margaux; some extract on the finish but this will round out during elévage. Good Desmirail. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 13% alc]. Drink 2020-2028. 88-90

Château Ferrière, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Bright edge; good density; intense and spicy aromatics; herbal and inky; some jam fruit tones behind this; some chew and sap on the palate; typically fresher style here at Ferrière; has the stuffing though. Vigorous Margaux. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc, organic in 2015, 35% new oak]. Drink 2022-2030. 90-92

Château Giscours, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and attractive colour; violet at edge; blackcurrant aromas; some cream; very pure and polished; very pretty and pure blackcurrant fruit; lovely entry on the palate; pure blackcurrant and blackberry notes; some smoke; nice texture and precision. Elegance and Rolls-Royce refinement to the tannins. Lovely Giscours. A real beauty. The best primeurs sample I’ve yet had from this estate. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.7% alc]. Drink 2022-2035. 94-96+

Château Kirwan, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Mid depth; stalky blackcurrant aromatics; some cherry; palate harmonious and balanced; has a roundness not found in recent vintages; mid palate has texture; a more caressing effort at Kirwan than other recent vintages. A nice change of direction here – past vintages have been distinctly ‘stern.’ [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.9% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 89-91+

Château Labégorce, Margaux

Deep and saturated colour; purple edge; lovely fragrance; violet perfume with pain grillé tones; seductive creamy palate; quite bold and expressive with plenty of extract and depth. Little extraction on the finish but this should become more harmonious through elévage. Real potential here at Labégorce. Best wine since their impressive wine here in 2010. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 45% new oak 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92

Château Lascombes, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep, saturated look; typically opaque at centre; saturated aromatics; some marzipan; creamy palate; harmonious and supple tannins; brighter fruit tones on the palate than the aromatics first suggest; lots of extract and matter but tannin supple and well handled. Still the feeling of being rather ‘worked’ in the cellar, but the harmony is there. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 42hl/ha, 75% new oak]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93

Château Malescot-Saint-Exupéry, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated look; deep and dark; fat nose; creamy cassis and sublimated fruits; concentrated and sublimated fruit tones; creamy style if a little fatiguing; chewy tannins on the finish. Stylistically very much at one end of the spectrum. If you enjoy wines with an intensely sublimated style, this is for you. Be interested to see this after elévage. As I say, bit fatiguing currently even of the depth is impressive. Drink 2020-2033. 90-92.

Château Margaux, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and beautiful looking; lovely vibrant purple edge; beautiful, pure fruit; sense this will be very harmonious indeed; more blackcurrant cassis notes unfurl from the glass; very seductive stuff; wonderfully balanced on the palate; seductive fruit tones continue; elegance and intensity; tannin at the end is wonderfully ripe. This is potentially perfect Margaux. No better tribute to the great Paul Pontallier. [87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2045. 98-100.

Château Marquis de Terme, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated looking; arterial; very full and ripe Margaux; cassis; blackcurrant jam; lush and unctuously styled; lots of creamy fruit on the palate with depth and chew; quite extracted currently on the finish but will settle. Ludovic David reckons this is his best vintage since he took charge of the property in 2009. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2020-2032. 91-93+

Château Marsac Seguineau, Margaux

Mid depth; purple at edge; little oak on the nose; some fruit beneath; nice fruit underneath the oak – acid and some grip. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted Meyney 4/4/16. 85-87

Château Monbrison, Margaux

Deepish; purple at edge; lovely pure aromatics; pretty fruit and very Margaux; seductive; cool blackcurrants on the palate with some cherry tones; nicely done; lovely freshness; little chewy on the finish but the fruit is here; likely a good value buy. [57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2020-2028. 89-91

Château Palmer, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated colour; very healthy looking; colour tight to the rim; intense and jam packed on the nose; tight seam of fruit; very pent up ball of fruit here; some violet lift on aeration; great palate – very full; concentrated but with great suppleness to the tannins; this is concentrated; super concentration and power but without any sense of over extraction; excellent length. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 14.1% alc 70% new oak]. Drink 2023-2040. 96-98+

Château Paveil de Luze, Margaux

Deep and saturated colour; bold; nice ripe black cherry notes with blackcurrant tones; freshly styled; cherry and cassis flavours on the palate; quite elegant; not extracted. Fine Margaux. Tasted Cru Bourgeois 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2028. 87-89+

Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux, Margaux

Deep colour; fresh; lovely aromatics; very voluptuous; sweet, creamy blackcurrant cassis; very opulent; seductive; tremendous aromatics for Pavillon; some stony elements; very intense palate; a real coiled spring; no second wine this; very precise indeed; nice length; some warmth at the end. Very complex. [74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc.] Drink 2022-2035. 94-96

Château Prieuré-Lichine, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep looking; purple at edge; ripe cherry and cassis; vibrant aromas; freshness too; attractive fruit on the palate; some gloss; more harmony here than in 2010 – less drying quality; nicely structured; has all the elements. Good effort here once again. [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+

Château Rauzan-Gassies, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and dark; saturated look; little reductive at first but opened up to show pure blackcurrant fruit; fresh if a little stalky; I like the tempo here though – nice fruit, layers and freshness; good length too on the finish. Real signs of steady improvement here over the past few vintages. This is the best young Rauzan-Gassies I have tasted I think. [84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2033. 90-92+

Château Rauzan-Ségla, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Deep and saturated colour; tight to the edge; fresh and ripe berry aromas; pretty fruit; nicely lifted notes; pure Cabernet notes on the palate; structured and correct; minerality and intensity here; grip and a fresh finish. Classically structured Rauzan-Ségla. Reminds me of the 2010. [63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc]. Drink 2022-2040. 93-95+

Château Siran, Margaux

Deep and saturated looking; has life and vibrancy; creamy cherry and blackcurrant tones; some summer fruit compote; violet lift; nice creamy palate; some wood to integrate but plenty to get to grips with here; needs to fill out a fraction on the end but good fruit and structure. [55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 14% alc]. Drink 2020-2030. 88-90

Château du Tertre, Grand Cru Classé, Margaux

Attractive colour; purple at edge; fresh looking; creamy blackcurrant and black cherry aromatics; nice purity as usual here; beautiful palate with lovely purity; blackcurrant tones; harmonious finish. Very good length too. Excellent du Tertre. Amongst my favourite affordable Margaux properties. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2022-2035. 91-93+

Château La Tour de Mons, Margaux

Nice colour; deepish; some Margaux perfume; violets and black cherry with some oak; cherry fruit; little wood to soak up on the mid palate but has sufficient fruit here; some chew on the finish. Fresh finish. [59% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 40% new oak]. Tasted Meyney 4/4/16. 86-88

IMG_0908Angludet: a perennial favourite

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