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Bordeaux 2017: Primeurs Day 2

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

My second day tasting Bordeaux 2017 started in bright sunshine at Château Haut Bailly. The purity of the wine in the past few vintages here has been unsurpassed and their terroir in Pessac-Léognan is wonderful. Frost took out a plot from production but there is finesse and elegance to this 2017. Ten minutes away, in contrasting but equally beautiful terroir, Château Smith Haut Lafitte has delivered the goods once again. The whites are brilliant, showing what a great vintage 2017 is here potentially for white wine. The reds are plump, and very well-upholstered with plenty of fruit and freshness. Excellent stuff. At Château La Mission Haut-Brion the remarkable quality of the whites was again underscored. Château La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and Château Haut-Brion Blanc are fabulous – though they never put a foot wrong with the whites mind. The reds are impressive, combining of the structure and fruit of 2014 perhaps with the freshness of 2008. La Mission is more approachable than usual in 2017 and Haut-Brion felt the fractionally deeper of the two. Both show wonderful purity.

This year I had a good look around Château Pape Clément, just five minutes up the road from Haut-Brion. There has been a lot of work going on in the vineyard and the cellar here over recent years. Frost has affected yields in 2017 [and in the other Bernard Magrez owned properties in the Médoc and St Emilion]. Pape Clement Blanc continues what appears to be an excellent set of Pessac-Léognan whites in 2017. The red is typically seductive and will not disappoint its fans [me included]. I was impressed with other wines in the Magrez range tasted at the property, especially as frost reduced Château La Tour Carnet [production down 75% at the Haut-Médoc property] and Château Fombrauge [down 40% in St Emilion]. Overall there appears to be greater elegance to the wines here. The accent is on the texture of the fruit rather than the extraction and oak handling which impresses [and was perhaps the case in the past]. If volumes are down, quality of the remainder looks good.

Returning to the Haut-Médoc, Château Batailley showed a set of fresh and pure 2017s. Batailley itself is in good shape, very Pauillac as ever with lots of blackcurrant fruit. There is increasing finesse at Château Lynch Moussas too. This looked good and much work has been done on this property in recent years. For value it’s difficult to beat Château Beau-Site, the Borie-Manoux property in St Estèphe. The 2017 vintage has clearly favoured the appellation. Beau-Site has produced fresh and positive Bordeaux that I expect will be well priced as usual.

Talking St Estèphe, I caught up with Dominique Arangoits at Château Cos d’Estournel. The Cos team have produced vivid and energetic wines in 2017. There is plenty of freshness and vitality and they looked very complete to me. Pagodes des Cos had wonderful deep black cherry fruit tones. The purity and laser like focus of Cos d’Estournel is just what you would expect but the wine comes in at more modest alcohols than in the past. It has enticing freshness and energy. Cos Blanc if great fun and the red Médoc La Goulée has nice depth and texture and should be good value.

A brief word on Sauternes. Château Bastor Lamontagne and Clos Haut Peyraguey looked very good today, tasted respectively at Smith Haut Lafitte and Pape Clément. Sauternes has had a string of great vintages in the past decade [2007 and 2011 are fabulous now]. From this snapshot would seem that 2017 feels like a combination of these to vintages for me.

2017: Terrific white wines at Haut-Brion & La Mission

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