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Bordeaux 2016: Haut-Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

2016 is generally an excellent vintage for the wines of the Haut-Médoc. It’s a broad generalisation of course. Geographically the appellation covers a very wide area on the left bank. It stretches from close to St Estèphe in the north, down to Ludon in the south, and from beside the Gironde, to fairly deep inland. Nevertheless, 2016 is a pretty homogeneous vintage here, despite the variation in terroir. The tannin has wonderful texture, the fruit tones are ripe and plush and there is freshness too. Château La Lagune, wonderfully seductive, leads the appellation. There are some seriously intense wines too. Château Belgrave and Château Cantemerle are extremely so. All three are up there in quality with 2009 and 2010 vintages. I was really impressed by the wines from Château Arnauld, Château Beaumont and Château Malescasse. I think these wines are the best yet from these properties. That’s also true of Château de Camensac to. It is beautiful in 2016.

Looking back through my notes, very few wines disappointed. If they did it was only because of the general splendour of the others. The marvellous texture of the vintage and the plumpness of the fruit shines through in so many. Prices are up but if you can afford making some purchases [and haven’t already – I’m a good two months late getting my notes out this year] you won’t be disappointed.

These Haut-Médocs will last long term but the quality of the tannin and the moreish fruit profiles suggest they will drink nicely early on. The dry summer conditions and beautiful autumn really appear to have suited the Cabernets. Properties on lighter, sandier soils may well have struggled with the drought, yet the very wet spring backed up water reserves for those vines with deep root systems. The September 13 rains and those a little later in the month helped the final phenolic ripening under generally warm and sunny skies. Properties were able to harvest at will and wait for optimum ripeness. For me this is the most exciting vintage in the Haut-Médoc since 2009/2010.

The following wines were tasted variously at the Grand Cercle, the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] and at Château Angelus [Hubert de Boüard now consults for a string of left bank properties].

Château d’Agassac, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Mid depth; ripe fruit; some wet rock; almost plushness; earthy aspect too; correct on the palate if not flashy; has vigour and zap; lacks some dimension but not unpleasant. Should fill out further. Tasted 2/4/17 at Grand Cercle. Drink 2020-2026. 87-89+

Château d’Arcins, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep; cassis; little reductive at first but opens up in the glass; pure cassis tones; sweet entry; nicely done; coquettish; ripe; works well; nice pure fruit; good extraction and judgement. Clean and nicely balanced. Tasted 2/4/17 at Grand Cercle. Drink 2020-2026. 88-90+

Château Arnauld, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep looking; bright aromatics; quite lush; full and focused; has depth and charm; violets and some mocha notes; has body and lushness; really seductive here; lovely vintage for Arnauld; has it ever been better? Good chew and depth on the finish. Tasted 2/4/17 at Angélus. Drink 2021-2030. 90-92+

Château Beaumont, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and vibrant looking; lovely beautiful fruit on the nose; really pretty; lovely aromatics in fact; blackcurrant, cassis and black cherry notes; palate is packed with lush, caressing fruit; still mid-weight and nicely balanced; soft tannin. Lovely Beaumont. One of the finest I’ve had during primeurs. Should prove excellent value. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc, pH 3,6, TA 3.5]. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2022-2030. 90-92+

Château Belgrave, Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and arterial; saturated colour; intense cassis and blackcurrant aromatics; quite thick; clearly concentrated; palate similarly dense and intense; this is a wine tightly packed with fruit and extract; layered and impressive. Tight on the finish with mocha notes. A hypothetical blend of ’09 and ’10 here. Excellent Belgrave. Ambitious and amongst their very best. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2035. 91-93+

Château Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Saturated; somewhat loser to the rim than Charmail; pain grillé; liquorice; depth; sweetness; cassis notes; violet lift from the oak; blackcurrant tones; elegance here; works well; lovely balance; richness and texture here. Nice bite at the end. Chew on the finish. Should work well. Tasted 2/4/17 at Angélus. Drink 2020-2028. 87-89+

Château de Camensac, Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated colour; nicely layered aromatics; this will be very good; perfumed and attractive; violets and blackcurrants; fruit tones on the palate with nice balance between the flesh, the texture and the acidity. Sappy quality but excellent ripeness here. I think this is the best young de Camensac I’ve yet tasted. [Harvest between Sept 27 and Oct 13]. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2030. 91-93+

Château Cantemerle, Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated looking; really deep colour; deep aromatics; packed with stuff; wow! Blackcurrants, spices, dark cherry notes; great purity; excellent; real perfume too; palate has texture and considerable concentration; lashings of blackcurrant fruit, texture and freshness. Lots of extract and matter. In the mold of 2010 but less dryness. A remarkable Cantemerle for sure. [52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot]. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2035. 93-94+

Château du Cartillon, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated; attractive blackcurrant cassis; fresh and poised; unadorned but with that attractive earthy aspect alongside the blackcurrants; clean; nicely done; freshness too; chewy finish with some ink. Will work well. Tasted Grand Cercle 2/4/17. Drink 2020-2026. 87-89+

Château Charmail, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and arterial; colour tight to rim; more mineral; wet rocks; purity; nicely done; plenty of matter; ripe Merlot; pretty chewy currently; needs to settle a bit; little extracted at present; should work out; plenty of guts and matter. Comes together on the finish. Good length. Quite a bit of alcohol yet also freshness. Tasted Angélus 2/4/17. Drink 2021-2028. 89-91

Château Citran, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated looking; arterial at centre; ripe and pure aromatics; clean plummy tones with blackcurrant notes; some smoke; good entry on the palate; intense and packed with fruit; plenty of texture and grip but extraction feels controlled. Will work really well. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2022-2030. 90-91+

Château Coufran, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and dark; brooding; clearly wine of depth; lots of extract and matter on the palate; one of the most concentrated young Coufrans I’ve had; little dry on the finish and clearly needs to settle but should be very good given the levels of fruit and texture. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2030. 90-91+

Château La Lagune, Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Dark and arterial; colour tight to edge; some mineral notes; plenty of fruit and extract; lush black cherry and plum tones; caressing fruit on the palate; this wine has a wonderful middle; quite thick in texture but with balancing freshness. Great La Lagune in the making. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot]. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2035. 94-96+

Château de Lamarque, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and black; attractive blackcurrant cassis aromatics; intense and inky; very ripe fruit on the palate; lots of extract and matter; plenty of depth. This should work really well. [45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot]. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2030. 89-91+

Château Liversan, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated; ripe; some fig & fruitcake spice; menthol; cool entry; quite intense; little stewed and tannic perhaps; old fashioned a little; little dusty and tannic on the finish. Chewy. Tasted Grand Cercle 2/4/17. Drink 2020-2025. 85-87

Château Lanessan, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated; violet lift; seam of good fruit; nicely done; gorgeous fruit here in ’16; solidity here; cool fruit; little more rustic in the tannins; more depth; but sweetness to the wine; ripe and rich; a beautiful vintage here for Lanessan. Chew and depth. Bit of rusticity on the finish but still impresses. Tasted Angélus 2/4/17. Drink 2022-2030. 90-91+

Château Lamothe-Bergeron, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Mid depth; sweet and ripe fruit; deep at centre; quite pretty; some lifted blackcurrants; blackcurrants on the palate; attractive fruit; nice balance; good palate; nicely judged; mid weight on the palate; good texture works well. Nice stuff. Tasted Angélus 2/4/17. Drink 2020-2028. 87-89+

Château Lamothe-Bergeron Nove, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Earthier purple at edge; deep and opaque; ripe blackcurrant; lifted; modern; intense; lots going on; density; blackcurrants; some mineral; chewy texture; some mocha elements; lots of intensity and extract but works. Bold in style. Tasted Angélus 2/4/17. Drink 2022-2030. 89-91

Château Malescasse, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated; attractive blackcurrant, cassis and earth; looks good; almost savoury element; nice entry; very polished wine; excellent Haut-Médoc; works well; has perfume and lovely fruit but also zap and like. Like this a lot. Tasted Grand Cercle 2/4/17. Drink 2022-2030. 90-92+

Château Peyredon La Gravette, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Mid depth; boiled sweet fruit; some blackcurrant cassis notes; stalks; fresh blackcurrant; little lose in style but easy; lacks a bit of middle; some sap and chew ay the end. Tasted Grand Cercle 2/4/17. Drink 2020-2024. 85-86+

Château La Tour Carnet, Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Deep and saturated colour; very deep at centre; lots of chocolate and black cherry fruit; quite extracted and dry on the palate but should settle; chewy at present but loaded with fruit and matter. Has very good potential, just needs to settle. [58% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted UGCB 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2032. 89-91+

Winemakers Collection, Haut-Médoc, 2016

Mid depth; little reductive; blackcurrant tones; fresh and stalky; blackcurrant influence; mid weight; will work ok; lacks the concentration of the best. Tasted Grand Cercle 2/4/17. Drink 2020-2025. 85-87

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