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Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: Margaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Overall, 2016 looks to be an impressive, comparatively homogenous vintage in Margaux in quality terms. This is something of an achievement in this large, heterogenous appellation. In recent tastings I’ve found the appellation more consistent than it was a decade ago. It is a large commune with varied soils and blends, so sometimes it feels one is comparing apples and oranges but, on the whole, the winemaking today seems gentler and less overly extractive than before. Likewise, new oak levels have come down. There is more emphasis on purity of fruit expression in the wines which is a good thing. So, what were the picks of the wines shown by the MW Institute? The line-up lacked Château Palmer, but Château Margaux [pictured left during primeurs in spring 2017] was there in all it’s glory. It has made fabulous wine in 2016. Not far behind though is a magnificent effort from Château Brane Cantenac and there is also a very strong wine from Château Rauzan Ségla.

The following notes were taken at the MW Annual Bordeaux tasting in December 2021. Again, apologies for the twenty-month delay in getting these published! Hope you still find them useful.

Château Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux, 2016

Deep colour; tight to rim; pain grillé notes and earthy blackcurrants; attractive; inky palate with plenty of plush fruit; textured and creamy. Like this. Drinking well now. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink now – 2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 92

Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, 2016

Deepish; nice pure blackcurrant aromatics; deep and layered; freshness too; plenty of blue fruit tones – blackcurrants, blueberries and plums. Lovely palate. Textured and bright fruit tones again. Balanced. Very impressive 2016. Will develop well but drink a bottle now to enjoy the purity of fruit. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Carmenere, 13.5% alc]. Drink now-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 97+

Château Cantenac Brown, Margaux, 2016

Mid depth; healthy looking; little reductive to start with but feral notes blew off; spicy and intense; almost Italianate notes; resin; blackcurrants; full palate that has density and chew but tannins softer now here than in the past. Chunky and enjoyable. [68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 91

Château Desmirail, Margaux, 2016

Lighter than almost all the rest at the tasting; spicy tobacco notes with red fruits; quite evolved; savoury meat notes on the palate; elegant palate – soft and easy and very forward. Ready to drink. [55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 13% alc]. Drink now – 2030. Tasted 1/12/21. 87

Château d’Issan, Margaux, 2016

Mid depth; little reticent; some spicy blackcurrant; structured and intense on the palate; quite firmly closed at present. Has texture on the finish. I’d expect this to be very good but the barn doors shut tight for now. [64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 13% alc]. Drink 2026-2046. Tasted 1/12/22. 92+?

Château du Tertre, Margaux, 2016

Relatively light colour; translucent centre; some bottle stink initially; aeration reveals spices and some blackcurrant notes; feels a little austere on the palate although nice texture on the end and fresh. Will age well and needs time I expect given the Cabernet dominated blend. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13%]. Drink 2026-2041. Tasted 1/12/21. 88+

Château Giscours, Margaux, 2016

Bolder and more colour than sibling du Tertre; Giscours also closed but fine seam of blackcurrant fruit with some earthy notes; good texture in the palate; inly blackcurrant fruit. Intense. Works well. [81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 13%]. Drink 2026-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 93+

Château Kirwan, Margaux, 2016

Mid depth; schist, inky blackcurrants and quite intense; little dumb but opens up. Sweet entry on the palate with strong blackcurrant and cassis flavours; quite structured on the palate. Needs a couple of years. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2046. Tasted 1/12/22. 91+

Château Lascombes, Margaux, 2016

Deep and dark; attractive nose with ripe black fruit tones, full and generous palate with some smoke meat notes alongside the black fruits; plenty of extract and matter as usual at this property that enjoys extracting the best of each vintage. Tannins little chewy on the finish but these will round out. [50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit-Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink now-2038. Tasted 1/12/21. 93+

Château Margaux, Margaux, 2016

Mid depth; super refined, layered blackcurrant aromatics; real finesse; some oak; beautiful palate which is silky and textured; very fine and composed. Intense finish. A beauty. [94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2060. Tasted 1/12/21. 99+

Château Marquis de Terme, Margaux, 2016

Mid depth; red fruits with some meaty notes; little stewed on the finish. Solid. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 13%]. Drink now-2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 88

Château Prieuré-Lichine, Margaux, 2016

Mid depth; little dumb; blackcurrant notes; intense; structured palate; sample bit closed; fruit is there. This should recover. [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Petit-Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2016-2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 89+

Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux, 2016

Deep; earthy blackcurrants and spices; good effort; more extract and colour than I’ve previously expected here [first class terroir in Margaux, but the property historically has underachieved]. Structured palate with a kiss of oak. Chewy and textured on the end. Good effort. [78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 91+

Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux, 2016

Deep; red at edge; schist mineral tones alongside the blackcurrant notes; excellent palate with real finesse; well-structured with good acidity and freshness; pure blackcurrant fruit on the palate with mineral finish. This, Château Margaux and Château Brane Cantenac are the picks of the Margaux on tasting [Palmer absent from the tasting]. [68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2026-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 96+

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