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Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

There’s a fascinating on-going discussion to be had about any vintage. It’s a conversation that shifts as the wines develop and age, and how they start to compare with the other vintages that surround them. From the outset, 2016 was both spellbinding and consistent across all the appellations. This remains the case today. St Emilion has also produced a collection of beauties in this vintage comparable in quality to the other principal Bordeaux appellations. If they don’t have the sheer volume and alcohol of more recent successful vintages here [I’m thinking 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022] 2016 more importantly has finesse and it is the balance of these wines in this vintage that remains so striking. They are appetizing and superbly balanced in the main. The picks in the MW’s line up of St Emilions? Well, Château Angélus and Château Figeac really impressed but there were terrific efforts also from Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, Château Bellevue, Château Canon and Château Fonplégade. Château Cheval Blanc was focused and textured but a little subdued.  Château Belair-Monange had also retreated into its shell. Chateau Quintus and Château Troplong-Mondot were both bold and rich, the latter too much for me. I think it’s fair to say that this was probably the end of the old style of late-picked highly extracted efforts at Troplong-Mondot. New broom Aymeric de Gironde has brought in a fresher more appetizing style in recent vintages.

The following notes were taken at the MW Institute’s 2016 Bordeaux in December 2021. In fairness, as is usually the case, I get to taste the wines of St Emilion and Pomerol after tasting the entire left-bank and Pessac-Léognan. Even despite St Emilion’s rich and seductive charms, my palate is probably a tad jaded, so my notes get shorter and more cryptic. Still, I hope you find them useful.

Château Angélus, St Emilion, 2016

Deep; black fruit aromatics which are deep and layered; palate is intense with lots of extract but also grip; super length. Another beautiful wine from this property. [60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2050. Tasted 1/12/21. 96+

Château Belair-Monange, St Emilion, 2016

Mid depth; red at edge; savoury black fruits and chocolate notes; composed and elegant. [92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc]. Drink now-2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 90+

Château Cheval Blanc, St Emilion, 2016

Mid depth; fine savoury blackcurrant aromatics; quite composed and not flashy on the day; textured savoury palate that has elegance and length. Tad dry on the finish. Bit subdued. [58% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alc]. Drink 2026-2056. Tasted 1/12/21. 94+

Château Bellevue, St Emilion, 2016

Deep looking; pretty fresh Merlot on the nose – plums and black cherry notes; very attractive; similar qualities on the palate – crisp and clean too. This works very well. A beauty! [100% Merlot, 14.5% alc]. Drink now-2036. Tasted 1/12/21. 94+

Château Canon, St Emilion, 2016

Deep; pure schist black fruits; very reserved still and feels pretty backward but has purity and freshness. Firm on the palate and not currently giving much away but has excellent structure and evident depth. Needs another few years to open up. One of the more backward of the St Emilion wines in ’16. [74% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc]. Tasted Drink 2026-2056. 1/12/21. 94

Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, St Emilion, 2016

Deep and saturated; ripe, black cherry, plums and enticing aromatics; plush and layered on the palate with some savoury tones too; this is a beauty; intensity too; lovely texture and length on the finish. Decadent and wonderful. [55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alc]. Drinking now- 2046. Tasted 1/12/21. 97

Château Figeac, St Emilion, 2016

Deep; clear and clean blackcurrant and cassis notes; lovely purity; very attractive on the nose; layered and composed palate dominated by the Cabernets; lovely texture and plenty of freshness and life. Terrific balance. [38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 14% alc]. Drink now-2050. Tasted 1/12/21. 97

Château Fonplégade, St Emilion, 2016

Deep; resinous black fruit aromatics; intense and inky; fresh palate which is layered; a very impressive 2016. Inky and fresh with lots of intensity. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2045 Tasted 1/12/21. 95

Château Quintus, St Emilion, 2016

Deep; black fruits, spices and Italianate elements; bold and rich palate. [70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 15% alc]. Drink now-2040. Tasted 1/12/21. 94

Château Troplong Mondot, St Emilion, 2016

Deep; plums and black cherries with creamy notes; cherry notes alongside dates and prunes on the palate; very extracted and thick – this feels like the end of the old winemaking regime here where the emphasis was on picking very ripe and achieving high alcohols. Not my thing really. [85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc 15.5% alc]. Drink now-2040. Tasted 1/12/21. 92

Château Trottevielle, St Emilion, 2016

Mid depth; lifted savoury blackcurrant notes with camphor and tobacco notes; this has a nice balance on the palate; lovely savoury characters; palate quite grippy and fresh but this has attractive texture on the finish and very good length. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot. 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% alc]. Drink 2016-2046. Tasted 1/12/21 92

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