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Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: Pessac-Léognan

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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.

The following wines were tasted at the MW Institute tasting in December 2021.

Château Bouscaut, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Mid depth; red at edge; open and aromatic; earthy blackcurrant tones, spices and undergrowth; nice texture and life on the palate; plenty of flesh and grip. This is very good. [38% Cabernet Sauvignon 62% Merlot, 14.5% alc]. Drink now – 2032. Tasted 1/12/21. 91

Château de Fieuzal, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Deep; red at edge; earthy and deep on the nose; smoke and spices and blackcurrant notes; palate quite backward and drier [than Bouscaut]; traditionally structured in the sense that the tannin and structure are more evident. Dry finish with grip. Little pinched on the end but it maybe retreating into its shell. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2034. Tasted 1/12/21. 90

Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Bold colour; intense and composed; finesse; little closed at first; menthol, ink and blackcurrants; balanced on the palate; fine blackcurrant flavours; textured. Fresh finish. This needs a few years but very fine. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2050 Tasted 1/12/21. 95+

Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Deep; spices, oak and black fruit notes; plums and blackcurrants; very attractive; extract and matter on the palate; very good depth; warmth on the finish. Textured finish. [56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc]. Drink 2026-2060. Tasted 1/12/21 98

Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Deep colour; bold aromatics; spicey oak; layers of black fruits; structured palate with plenty of extract and matter; this has density; texture to the tannins if a tad dry on the finish. Little more reticent but shows how the ‘16s are creeping into their shells. [57.5% Merlot, 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alc]. Drink 2026-2045. Tasted 1/12/21. 95+

Château Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Earthy purple art edge; still youthful looking; warm and spicey; some tobacco; feels mature already. Earthy blackcurrant and peat notes; spices. Has freshness and texture. Classic, earthy Graves. [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink now-2028. Tasted 1/12/21. 90

Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Mid depth; earthy red at edge; spices, tobacco and minty blackcurrant notes; quite tight to begin with. Has crept into its shell. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 92+

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Deeply coloured with a healthy gloss; nice purity on the nose; lifted blackcurrants and black cherry; layered and deep; needs to open up but nicely composed; lots to unfurl here; plenty of grip and extract. Textured finish. This needs five years but is a very compelling wine.[65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 14% alc]. Drink 2024-2045. Tasted 1/12/21. 98

Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Mid depth; red at edge; little dumb at first; ripe and rich fruits emerge but needs aeration; polished on the palate with finesse and intensity; grip and acidity nicely balanced. Very clear and precise. Like this! Needs three years. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.5%]. Drink 2026-2040. Tasted 1/12/21. 95+

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