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Bordeaux 2016: Château Mouton-Rothschild

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

A great set of Pauillacs have emerged from the Domaine Baron Philippe de Rothschild stable in 2016. This is a perfect vintage for these terroirs. Château d’Armailhac may have produced its most balanced and refined wine yet. It vies with 2009 and 2010 here. This is true also of Château Clerc-Milon which has probably made its best wine since the very impressive 2010. Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild is just as seductive as the precocious 2012. Great stuff! And what of Château Mouton-Rothschild itself? Technically it has more tannin than 2010 but you wouldn’t notice, such is the silky texture here this year. The wine has the most remarkable depth and balance. It must surely go down as one of the great Moutons. 

Mouton-Rothschild’s managing director Philippe Dhalluin is clearly excited about the quality of the wines across the board in 2016. For him it is the seamless quality of the tannins that defines the vintage. They have an almost unbelievable texture, not in the least bit astringent, they have a magnificent creamy quality that recalls the 2009 vintage. Yet the wines have greater aromatic freshness and vibrancy than that legendary year. There is even greater balance and harmony for me [and I’m one of the biggest fans of Bordeaux 2009]. In fact I’d almost go as far to say I reckon Philippe has perhaps made some his best wines yet in his tenure here. The notes below speak for themselves.

Dhalluin describes two main trends in the 2016 vintage in Pauillac. The first was a very wet winter and spring, with more than half of the year’s rainfall coming in the first four months of the year. The second was an extremely dry summer and autumn without any significant rainfall. The result was grapes that were numerous but small, which made for concentrated and dense wines. High day temperatures but cooler nights were good for the complex development of aromas and the wonderful tannin profiles displayed. Picking at Mouton began with the Merlot on 26 September and ended with the Cabernet on 14 October.

Pricing was restrained here this year with Mouton being released up 9.4% on 2015 in euro terms. For more analysis a link to the Liv-Ex report on Mouton’s release is here. For those of you who like me can’t afford £400+ a bottle wine, then d’Armailhac was released at the same for a case. As I say, it looks like the best d’Armailhac yet.

The following wines were tasted at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild on 3/4/17.

Château d’Armailhac, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2016

Deep and saturated look; vibrant at edge; very perfumed and seductive on the nose; blackcurrant cassis; has an elegance and density but also wonderful ripeness; nice entry; rich Pauillac but with digestibility and elegance; nicely balanced palate. Feels very fine and well proportioned. Deceptive in the mouth. Plenty of flesh on the bones. Attractive tension on the end. Will be very good indeed. Best d’Armailhac yet? [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2023-2030. 92-94+

Château Clerc Milon, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2016

Deep and bold colour; dense; earthy purple at edge; lovely cassis notes; strong blackcurrant aromatics and black cherry notes; emphasis on the purity of the fruit; lovely expression; excellent aromas; has plenty of flesh on the palate but very supple tannins; nicely handled and extracted; there is oak influence but very well integrated sample; good depth and life; nicely vibrant notes; good acidity and extract on the finish. Very nicely done. Will be a beauty. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Carménère.] Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2024-2040. 94-96+

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, 2016

Deep and saturated look; purple edge; cassis; some pain grillé and blackcurrant aromatics; very polished; lovely blackcurrant fruit; real delicacy here; nimble; better than ’15 here; some oak to integrate with the fruit but all looks good. Good levels of extract; ripe fruit and very supple tannins. Length on the end. Nice palate impression. Most exciting Petit Mouton since the knockout 2012. Great stuff! [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2022-2036. 93-95.

Château Mouton-Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2016

Deep and opaque as you’d expect; colour tight to the edge; pure blackcurrants; real delicacy; cassis; great ingredients; sweet entry; lots of fruit but precision and the new oak interwoven; great texture and extract; really profound; delicacy though too – not impenetrable in the least; wonderfully silky tannins. Great Mouton. Up there with the very best. [83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2026-2046. 98-100

Aile d’Argent, Bordeaux Blanc, 2016

Pale straw; pear drop; oyster shell; some mineral quality; lees and lanolin notes; really bold palate; excellent stuff; has good body and weight; certain amount of glycerol; works well in this vintage where the drought conditions were often a challenge for the whites. [54% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Sémillon, 1% Muscadelle]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2020-2026. 93-94+

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