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.
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.
There is great consistency to the wines of Fronsac in 2022. The wines showed great colour, plenty of fruit, good structure, nicely handled extraction and ripe tannins at the Grand Cercle event back in April. As a bunch, they were very impressive. I find this appellation really intriguing and it certainly offers value in this vintage for the quality. The picks? Château Dalem, Château de la Dauphine, Château de la Rivière, Château Fontenil and Château La Vieille Cure are all seriously impressive and worth seeking out. This will be a vintage that will age well in bottle but should offer lots of drinking pleasure early on.
There’s no doubt that the high pricing of many top Bordeaux 2022’s has been a disappointment in this en primeur cycle, regardless of the quality of the wine on offer. If like me you’re looking for good Bordeaux at a reasonable price, then there are definitely some Côtes de Bordeaux to consider in 2022. At the Grand Cercle tasting back in April, there was some variation. A few were rather ponderous and overripe with somewhat chewy tannins. Clearly the heat and drought proved tricky to manage for some. That said several showed really well. These wines exhibited greater freshness and life. My picks were Château Veyry and Clos Puy Arnaud in Castillon, Château Réaut and Château Reynon in Cadillac and Château Haut Bertinerie in Blaye. In earlier notes I have also posted on an extremely impressive Château d’Aiguilhe in Castillon.