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Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

These notes from the MW Institute Tasting back in December 2021 are long overdue on the blog. Let’s just say I’ve been a bit side tracked. My impression with a lot of top drawer crus classés 2016s tasted more recently [ie in the intervening twenty months!] is that they remain a little closed. While this isn’t true of the Haut-Médoc properties [or many in St Emilion and Pomerol which are now coming into their own], it is true of St Julien. Undoubtedly 2016 is a classic vintage in St Julien. There is great precision and depth across the board and the wines are very impressive. The picks of the tasting? Chateau Léoville Las Cases was fantastic with profound depth and structure. Not that far behind was Château Léoville Barton and Château St Pierre. I was especially impressed with efforts from Château Branaire Ducru, Château Lagrange and Château Talbot, though there was great consistency shown across all the wines. Top châteaux Ducru Beaucaillou and Léoville Poyferré weren’t shown.

The following notes were taken in December 2021 at the MW Institute tasting in London. Apologies for the delay in getting these published! I expect all the wines below will still resemble these notes, although as I say some have retreated a little in bottle.

Château Beychevelle, St Julien, 2016

Depth; legs; intense looking; nice seam of fruit on the nose; layered; black fruits and tar; very fine; fresh palate, seam of cool fruit again; very nice precision here; polished. [47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink now-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 93+

Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien, 2016

Deep; schist and leafy blackcurrant notes; lovely blackcurrant notes in fact. Elegant palate, nice definition and purity; some chew at the end but this is a pure and attractive St Julien with the emphasis on balance and elegance. Fresh finish. [64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 94+

Château Gruaud Larose, St Julien, 2016

Mid depth; earthy red at edge; savoury, smoked meats aromatics; typical Gruaud; palate had intensity and grip but more backward and closed than expected. Earthy blackcurrants on the finish. Currently in a slumber. [69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 13% alc]. Drink 2026-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 92+

Château Lagrange, St Julien, 2016

Deep and dark looking; intense blackcurrants; clean and powerful; some pencil shaving notes; excellent palate and displays lots of layered fruits and finesse; structured with fresh acidity but not at all dry. I think this might be up there with the best wines the property has made, alongside the 1990 and 2000 Lagrange. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2045. Tasted 1/12/21. 94+

Château Langoa Barton, St Julien, 2016

Deep and dark; resin, blackcurrants and ink; lots of extract on the palate and pretty deep; structured and fresh; real pure blackcurrants; has grip and acidity too. Textbook Langoa from the late Anthony Barton. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 13%]. Drink 2025-2045. Tasted 1/12/21. 92+

Château Léoville Barton, St Julien, 2016

Inky and black; ripe blackcurrant aromatics; layered; inky; opens up nicely in the glass; layer upon layer of blackcurrant and cassis fruit; nice and clean on the palate; real precision. Very classical St Julien. [86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% alc]. Drink 2026-2060. Tasted 1/12/21. 95+

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, St Julien, 2016

Dark and brooding [like Léoville-Barton]; more rounded blackcurrant fruit; really pure and rich; firm and powerful palate; great texture to the tannins; layered and focused. Quite brilliant wine. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2060. Tasted 1/12/21. 98+

Château St Pierre, St Julien, 2016

Dense and dark; lovely aromatics; an absolute beauty; seductive blackcurrants, cream and plum tones; really enticing; pure palate; layers of fruit and evident structure but plenty of flesh around the bones. Intense and focused finish. Great stuff. Super St Pierre. [73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2045. Tasted 1/12/21. 96+

Château Talbot, St Julien, 2016

Mid depth; deep at core; open, savoury blackcurrants; smoked meats; nicely open now aromatically speaking; textured palate. This is one the best recent Talbots. Really good stuff. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink now-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 94

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