Wine Words & Video Tape

Wine, Words and Videotape

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Bordeaux Primeurs 2016: Day 1

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Well, there is no doubt about it. 2016 is a fascinating red wine vintage in Bordeaux across all the appellations. The quality of the wines took me by surprise, as it did Bordeaux’s vignerons themselves. The growing season proved to be the proverbial game of two halves. Spring was very wet indeed with variable weather, save for a perfect flowering period. Remarkable drought conditions then followed, with sun and heat, though the high summer days had a considerable diurnal temperature range, with cool nights. The lack of rain was a real worry by the beginning of September [with rising vine stress], but the vintage was made [saved?] but two bouts of essential rain in September. This allowed the grapes to achieve final ripeness [beautiful ripeness in many cases] which has resulted in a range of concentrated reds, with remarkably succulent tannins, fresh acids and reasonable alcohols [ie under 14 degrees]. At the top level the balance seems better than in 2009, and less obviously tannic than 2010 at this early stage. Amongst the wines l managed to taste, the vintage seemed more homogeneous too than 2015 [the 2016 vintage succeeds on both the left and right banks]. Some properties may have made perhaps their best ever wines [though only time will tell]. 2016 didn’t seem to be an exciting vintage for dry whites, though many were well made considering the challenging drought conditions, they didn’t leap out of the glass. I’ll be writing a more detailed overview in the coming week but here are my first thoughts as I began my tastings last Saturday in St Emilion.

I travelled up early to taste Stephan von Neipperg’s range of mainly right-bank wines. I’m a great fan of his Côtes de Castillon, Château d’Aiguilhe. This looks particularly strong in 2016. Lots of freshness was evident in Château Canon-la-Gaffelière itself, Clos de l’Oratoire was its usual glossy self and La Mondotte was sumptuous and powerful.

Next up was a mid morning trip to the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. Great wines here. Château Valandraud was remarkable, and second wine Virginie de Valandraud pretty and coquettish. Strong wines have also been made here at Clos Badon-Thunevin [St Emilion], Le Clos du Beau Père [Pomerol] and Domaine des Sabines. Amongst the properties for which Jean-Luc consults, Château Fleur Cardinale, Château Sannonet and Château La Marzelle really impressed. More details on these and Thunevin’s other wines later.

Then it was off to the Grand Cercle event held at Château Montlabert [above] to blind taste a series of Côtes de Bordeaux, Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol and St Emilion Grand Cru. I’ll also be writing in more detail about these tastings too but generally I was impressed with the succulence of the tannin, the evident fruit and bright acidities. There were many appetizing wines. Those that immediately stood out were Château Dalem, Château Gaby and Haut-Carles and Château de la Dauphine in Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac, In Pomerol Château La Commanderie, Clos du Clocher, Château Feytit-Clinet and Château Bourgneuf looked very good. Amongst the Lalande de Pomerols Château Grand Ormeau, Château Saint-Jean de Lavaud, Château de Viaud and Château Siaurac worked well.

Amongst the bevy of St Emilion Grand Cru, Château Pindefleurs, Château Rol Valentin, Château Patris, Château Boutisse, Château Godeau, Clos Dubreuil, Château Tour Baladoz, Château Mangan la Gaffelière, Château Magrez Fombrauge, Château du Parc, Château Ferrand-Lartigue, Château Laplagnotte-Bellevue and Château L’Hermitage Lescours all impressed. Again detailed notes to follow on all these wines by appellation. Next up…day two…

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