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 ‘Chateau Fonplégade’
It’s taken me a while to post these notes on seventy-three wines from the MW Institute’s horizontal 2016 Bordeaux tasting held at the very end of 2021. Looking back on the notes I’m reminded quite what a unique vintage this is. In a decade with at least three other contenders to greatness [2010, 2018 and 2019 – with 2015 also very good] what really impresses in 2016 is the breadth of quality across all Bordeaux’s red appellations and the balance in the wines. They have ripe fruit, juicy acidities and great textures. They are extremely moreish. There’s not the over-extraction that was more common in 2010, nor the exaggerated ripeness of some 2018s, nor the hefty alcohols you can find in the 2019s [though ’19 is a truly wonderful vintage]. Many of these ’16s are well under 14% [with exceptions in St Emilion and Pomerol]. It makes this a Bordeaux vintage to drink without fearing a blinding headache. That said many of the wines have retreated into their shells a fair bit since bottling. You will want to wait to broach wine from Pauillac, St Julien and definitely St Estèphe. Many in St Emilion and Pomerol are now starting to drink well, along with the top wines from Pessac-Léognan. Still there’s no hurry at all really as these wines are so well balanced and fresh. So, what were picks of the MW tasting?
Way back in early September the Association de Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion put on a tasting high up above London at Landing Forty Two in the remarkable Leadenhall Building. The views were impressive. So were many of the wines. Ostensibly it was an opportunity to taste the joyful 2018 vintage, but each producer also offered an additional, older vintage. This was fascinating. For me it also confirmed the superlative quality of the 2016 vintage in St Emilion, but also the quality of some of the rather unsung 2017s. In fact, there were quite a few properties to my mind that performed better in ’17 than they did in ’18 – and that was no mean feat given the challenges of the frost that so badly affected the former vintage. Given that some 45 different chateau were represented at the tasting, I’m dividing my report into two parts. This one contains notes and thoughts on some twenty-four properties [and forty-seven wines], starting with Château Barde-Haut and ending with Château Franc-Mayne [essentially half of them alphabetically].
Top to bottom, St Emilion has had an excellent vintage in 2016. Qualitatively it is the equal of 2015, but differs stylistically. There is a lot of that bright, beautiful fruit that characterized ’15, but there is more grip, freshness and texture this year. It all makes for an appetising vintage for aficionados of St Emilion. Prices are up – quelle surprise! And if you are unfortunate enough to reside in the UK then the Brexit fiasco has made things pricier still. Still if you’ve the spare cash, this is a vintage to consider. There are a great many St Emilion Grand Cru which are really excellent and the quality of the Grand Cru Classé and the Premier Grand Cru Classé [though very pricey] are extremely impressive. Overall this is an exciting and homogenous vintage. There’s decent quantity available too.