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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Branaire-Ducru’
Well, certainly don’t rush to open any of your 2019 St Julien. I reckon most of them need at least another five years in the cellar before you consider opening them. Many need a decade and I’d expect all of them to be in rude health twenty years from now. In contrast to Margaux and the Haut-Médoc in 2019, St Julien it seems the wines have retreated into their shells. There is lots and lots to them. These are layered and extremely concentrated wines, but currently they are tight as hell. Perhaps this is all in order in any event. This appellation does produce some of the longest-lived Bordeaux, along with Pauillac and St Estèphe. Nevertheless the 2019 vintage here feels much more akin to 2005 and 2010 than to 2009, 2016 or 2018. Obviously any tasting is just a snapshot, but currently these wines are in a slumber. Quality-wise, as ever this appellation is extremely consistent.
A tasting of wines from 2019 put on by the UGCB last November reinforced my impression of the fine quality of this vintage. I majored on the left bank, having covered the right bank more comprehensively during primeurs tastings back in 2020. Looking over my notes, the wines have certainly retreated into their shells since bottling. Many were quite backward and reticent, especially in Pauillac and St Julien. During primeurs, I felt like 2019 was a mythical blend of 2010 and 2009. They had the intensity of the former with the fruit and texture of the latter, with overall finer tannin and less extraction than back then. Right now I’m wondering if 2019 isn’t closer to a modern 2005, that is to say pretty serious, structured and long-term but with sweeter tannin texture than ‘05. Still, this is a generalisation and that comparison is not true in all cases by any means. Not all Pauillacs and St Juliens were backward for example and there were some especially lush wines in Margaux and the Haut-Médoc for instance. So it’s a complex picture. If you’ve tucked into 2019 [like me] there is certainly nothing to worry about, except that you might have to wait a little longer for the wines to open up than we first imagined. I’ll obviously follow up with more detailed posts by appellation, but in the meantime what were the overall highlights?
I’m very sorry to hear that Sue Glasgow has retired from the wine scene. Sue was synonymous for many in the UK wine trade with fine Bordeaux, doing public relations for the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] in particular and organising their tastings each year. Her swansong event, held in tightly managed, socially distanced conditions at Church House in Westminster last October was a superbly organised tasting. It worked like clockwork. Tasters occupied pretty much every corner of the entire building, each escorted to their individual tables, where waiters in masks and visors poured samples at arms-length. Usually these events are a bit more of a bun fight, but this year it all felt very refined if a little solemn. My only issue was a lack of time. During Primeurs 2018 I’d majored on right bank properties in St Emilion, Pomerol and the Bordeaux Côtes. I did dip in to see some of the stars of the left bank [notably Calon Ségur, Cos, Latour and Palmer] but I’d missed out on tasting St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe in detail. So, with only a few hours to taste at this year’s UGCB event this autumn, I decided to focus on these appellations. First up, St Julien.