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Bordeaux 2015: Pauillac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0914Pauillac has had a very good vintage in 2015, though there is some variability. The best wines have considerable depth and beautiful fruit tones. The acidity is good and the tannins are wonderfully ripe. In some cases heavy September rain showers knocked the edge of things a bit here relative to other appellations. In some cases 2014 felt a more powerful vintage in Pauillac. That is also the case in neighbouring St Estèphe. That said, the general delicacy of the wines and the delicious fruit tones make 2015 Pauillac a very attractive vintage for a great many châteaux here.

The picks for me at the UGCB event were a very refined and polished Château Batailley, a particularly impressive Château Grand-Puy Ducasse (perhaps the most impressive wine here since the 2009-2010 combination), a rather fabulous Château Lynch Bages, up there for me with the first growths this year, an equally brilliant Château Pichon-Baron and a typically lush and layered Château Pichon-Lalande. I was also rather impressed by Château Croizet-Bages. Recent vintages have shown increasing refinement at this property. This might prove a good buy this year.

I’ve written earlier about the Pauillac first growths, led for me this year by Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Latour, with Château Lafite-Rothschild very much in third place. Château Pontet-Canet continues to impress, flying the biodynamic flag, and followers of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Haut-Batailley will not be disappointed by their delicious wines in 2015.

The question for me is whether 2014 will turn out to trump 2015 in the end in Pauillac. I think 2014 does in power and scale in certain cases, but the delicacy, balance and harmony of the wines here in 2015 will make for wonderful wines to drink, even if the spotty September weather has perhaps scuppered possible perfection. It will be interesting to see these two vintages together for analysis after elévage and over the years.

The disappointing aspect for consumers has been the considerable price hikes in 2015 over 2014. In Euro terms Mouton was up 60%, Pichon-Lalande up 50%, Pichon-Baron up 45%, Lynch-Bages up 40% and so on. These increases are greater when it gets to the internationally offered prices. Liv-Ex has good analysis on pricing in 2015. The wine trade was certainly expecting lower increases, more in the 15-20% range. So is 2015 really 50% better than 2014? The short answer is no, though they are also very different vintages.

You’ve probably already made your purchases for this year anyhow [I’m getting these notes out two months later than I’d hoped…] but I guess one thing that might help with the 2015 price increases [in the UK at least] is the devaluation in Sterling post Brexit that will enhance the value of existing purchases [any future tranches being more expensive]. This, in part, seems to be behind the current upward movements in the UK fine wine market since the EU referendum result.

The following notes were taken back in April at Château Lafon-Rochet who held the UGCB tastings for the wines of Pauillac, as well as at the individual properties listed.

Château d’Armailhac, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep core; purple edge; healthy looking; vibrant; attractive aromatics; ripe; some beauty; cream; blackcurrants; cassis; nice qualities; purity; caressing entry on the palate; fresh blackcurrants; black cherry; harmonious and round; little sap and freshness on the end which makes for a positive finish. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted 5/4/16 at UGCB. 90-92+ [Earlier note] Deepish; nice fresh purple hues at the edge; bright, crunchy fruit; blackcurrants; little reductive but fresh; cool blackcurrant tones; harmonious extraction; mid weight to the palate; grip on the finish. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted 4/4/16 at Mouton. 89-91

Château Batailley, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; dark core; bright blackcurrant fruit tones; graphite; good Cabernet tones on the palate; elegance; nice purity and harmony; nicely balanced; needs to infill in the middle a touch; supple tannins; attractive Batailley. Good length. [77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3& Petit Verdot, 48hl]. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. Drink 2024-2032. 90-92

Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac

Mid depth; purple edge; fraction looser at the rim than Lafite itself; fleshy aromatics; plump Merlot; fuller than the Duhart; palate a little grippy with acidity; extract and matter but little dumb on the day. [57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted 4/4/16. 89-91+

Château Clerc Milon, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Glossy look; healthy; purple edge; ripe Cabernet aromatics; fuller and fatter than d’Armailhac on the day [and than at Mouton the previous day]; singular seam of blackcurrant fruit here; cassis and even some wine gum notes; fresh palate but also full with very good depth of fruit; plenty of flesh here this vintage; creamy fruit tones; again harmonious quality here. Excellent length. [51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenère.] Drink 2024-2035. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 92-94 [Earlier note] Mid depth; fresh looking; nice cassis and blackcurrant tones; spices; some wine gum notes; layered; classical Clerc Milon on the palate; a little stern at this stage but should be good. Tasted 4/4/16 at Mouton. Drink 2024-2032. 90-92

Château Croizet-Bages, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; healthy Cabernet tones; impressive purity here; ripe fruits on the palate with good middle; this is a harmonious effort from this property. Good Pauillac. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. Drink 2022-2030. 89-91+

Château Duhart-Milon, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; earthy purple rim; little graphite; pencils; some cassis; elegance; not big; some spicy plum notes; elegant palate with quite pronounced acidity; grippy and quite modest in shape for Duhart at this stage. Needs to flesh out and fill out. [73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot]. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted 4/4/16. 89-91+

Château Fonbadet, Pauillac

Deeply coloured; ripe cassis and blackcurrant tones; some stone fruits and smoke; minerality; ripe fruit on the palate; intense and fresh; blackcurrant and cassis again; very good effort for Fonbadet. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted Cru Bourgeois, 7/4/16. 88-90

Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac, 2015

Very vibrant at edge; saturated look; lovely depth; attractive fruit but more tightly focused; deep and special; lovely blackcurrant purity; minerals and some spices; nicely integrated nose; weighty and full; this is impressive; intensity; good length and structure on the palate. Excellent. Very impressive structure. Great length. Reminds me a little of the knockout 2010. [63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35.6% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, 0.9% Petit Verdot, 13.3% alc, IPT66, 40% of production]. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted 7/4/16 at Ch. Latour. 93-95+

Château Grand-Puy Ducasse, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and saturated; dark core; ripe blackcurrants; cassis; some coffee; bright and fresh fruit; grip and structure; this is impressive wine. Length. Drink 2024-2030. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 91-93 [Earlier note] Deep and saturated looking; nice at edge; deep and rather lush aromas; quite layered; lovely black fruits; cassis; black cherry; lovely purity here; top notch; lovely fruit on the palate – really pure and clean; is this the finest GPD since the 2009? Lovely elegance on the finish. Lots of matter and fruit. Drink 2024-2030. Tasted 4/4/16 at Ch. Meyney. 91-93.

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deepish; healthy looking; lovely blackcurrant fruit – nice purity; roundness; pretty fruit – very ‘jolie’ again; nice cassis tones; blackcurrants; ripe fruit; more oak to integrate on the palate but that is fine [75% new oak]; nice grip and structure; lovely wine here as usual. [74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 45hl/ha]. Drink 2024-2035. Tasted 7/4/16 at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 93-95+ [Earlier note]. Deep at core; earthy purple; graphite; blackcurrants; attractive and layered; palate full with plenty of fruit and round, harmonious tannins; full and harmonious; lovely blackcurrant fruit here as usual. Very good indeed. [74% Cabernet, 23% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.5%]. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted 5/4/16 at UGCB. 93-94+

Château Haut-Bages Libéral, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deepish; vibrant edge; fresh; some spice; blackcurrant cassis; minerality; palate a little compact and oak showing for now; will settle well; sappy finish; has vigour and freshness. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 13.5%]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 89-91+

Château Haut Batailley, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; attractive colour and freshness at the edge; healthy; lovely joyful Pauillac; pretty fruit but with some texture; really attractive; lovely blackcurrant tones; ripe and fresh; nice texture on the palate; fresh and medium bodied; nice and round and harmonious; nice spice and blackcurrant tones; nice elegant finish. Nice acidity. Good length. Refreshing. [72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot 49hl/ha]. Drink 2024-2032. Tasted 7/4/16 at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 90-92+

Lacoste-Borie, Pauillac

Nice healthy colour; mid depth; purple red at edge; blackcurrant fruit; some spice; little cherry; very Bordeaux; nice fresh entry; clean and pure fruit characters; bit of graphite and blackcurrant on the palate; nice texture; should work well in 3-5 years. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 50hl/ha]. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted 7/4/16 at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 87-88+

Château Lafite-Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; purple edge; mineral tones and cool blackcurrant aromatics; some graphite and spice; elegant aromatics; quite compact on the palate; measured style; fruit a bit tight and the acidity showed through on the day. Tannins are fine but considerable. A degree of freshness on the finish – almost grippy. Will put on weight during elévage I hope. [91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot]. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted 4/4/16. 93-94+

Château Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2015

Very deep; purple edge; deep blackcurrant; some cassis; some graphite; lovely seam of fruit; little subdued at first; mineral tones; real intensity; tightly packed blackcurrants; really lovely fruit; very beautiful Latour; extract and flesh; plenty of matter but quite flattering to taste already; open; plenty of blackcurrant fruit an extract [growing in weight day to day according to the technical director]. Excellent length. Drink 2023-2040. [97.1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.6% Merlot, 0.3% Petit Verdot, 13.04% alc, IPT 69, 30% of production]. Tasted 7/4/16. 95-97

Château Lynch-Bages, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and saturated look; colour tight to the edge; opaque centre; sweet ripe blackcurrant fruit; nicely layered and attractive; very nicely composed aromatics; cool blackcurrant fruit on the palate; plenty of flesh here; layered and intense; excellent balance. This is pretty cool stuff. Very impressive. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc, 75% new oak]. Drink 2024-2035. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 95-97

Château Lynch-Moussas, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Mid depth; earthy edge; ripe, menthol and blackcurrant tones; little leaf; earth too; cool palate; nice entry; lacks a little punch in the middle; soft tannins. Easy styled Pauillac. [79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 44hl/ha]. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 88-90

Château Mouton-Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep looking; legs; ripe and attractive Cabernet aromatics; blackcurrants and cassis tones; lots of matter here; glossy quality to the fruit; lots of layers here; real density but the fruit tones are very attractive; grip and texture; wonderful length; cashmere Cabernet. Plenty of matter here; layered and deep. Very, very long finish. [82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2025-2045. Tasted 4/4/16. 96-98+

Pauillac de Latour, 2015

Excellent depth; mid red/purple at edge; classic Pauillac nose; blackcurrants; pencil and some leaf; pretty and quite beautiful; firmish entry but cool and elegant with nice structure and balance; spice and mineral touches; has good length. Spice on the finish. Excellent effort. Drink 2021-2030. [54.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41.7% Merlot, 4.1% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc, IPT 65, 30% of production]. Tasted 7/4/16. 89-91+

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac

Depth and legs in the glass; purple at edge; attractive purity; blackcurrants; cassis; more primary than Clerc Milon; glossy blackcurrant characters on the palate; soft entry; full palate; blackcurrant tones; pure; roundness with length. Excellent Petit Mouton. [78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted 4/4/16. 91-93+

Château Pichon Baron, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and saturated look; fresh; intense, inky aromatics; very pent up and concentrated on the nose which suggests wonderful ripeness; opens up gradually revealing more blackcurrant cassis fruit tones; lovely purity here; very flattering on the palate currently; almost pretty; this will work wonderfully. Very harmonious on the finish too. Great stuff. [77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot]. Drink 2024-2035. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 95-97

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep and attractive looking; legs; real viscosity in the glass; lovely blackcurrant tones; real Pauillac beauty; deep and classy; supple entry to the palate; nicely harmonious wine; real depth and velvety fruit tones; lovely length; layered finish. [68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 13.6% alc]. Drink 2024-2035. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 95-97

Château Pontet-Canet, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Beautiful colour; deep core; purple edge; ripe and very plush; deep and seductive; some mineral notes; little spice at the back; nice entry; plenty of fruit; blackcurrant; very pure; supple on the mouth; nice extract; very digestible; nice fruit and texture on the finish; very fine tannins; good length. Very well balanced and harmonious. Excellent length. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot, 33hl yield, 95% of the crop in the grand vin, 50% new oak, 35% eggs, 15% one year barrels]. Drink 2024-2040. 94-96+

IMG_0849 Best ever Grand-Puy Ducasse in 2015?

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