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.
Posts Tagged ‘Bordeaux 2016’
There are lots of great wines in Pessac-Léognan in the 2016 vintage. You’d expect superlative efforts from the likes of Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion. But there are also magnificent wines from the appellation’s defacto first growths Château Haut-Bailly and Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Brilliant, yet contrasting red wines have been made here. Fractionally outside this club, but only fractionally, is Domaine de Chevalier. Year in, year out this is one of the highest quality, dependable but won’t [entirely] ‘break-the-bank’ reds in all of Bordeaux. Fine wines have also been made at Château Bouscaut, Château Fieuzal, Château Malartic Lagravière. Château Latour Martillac is drinking well, already offering textbook earthy Graves. That said, overall, at the top level these are still wines that need another two or three years in bottle to get really into gear. In some senses a few have crept into their shells since earlier tastings. These will improve further in complexity over the next decade and expect them to last well into the middle of the century.
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.