There’s no doubt that many of the Haut-Médoc 2016s are now hitting their stride. There are a great many wonderful wines to be had at good prices in this appellation which deliver a lot of satisfaction. Amongst the small range shown at the MW Institute’s 2016 tasting at the end of 2021, Château La Lagune, Château La Tour Carnet and Château Cantemerle showed really well. Château Belgrave had a lot of depth and structure but felt like it needed a year or two more at the time of tasting. Separately I’ve since had Château Sénéjac and Château Citran 2016s recently and they have impressed too. The following notes were taken at the MW Institute tasting in December 2021. I hope you find them useful. The wines should have continued to open up and develop nicely since then.
Posts Tagged ‘Haut Médoc’
My primeurs visit this year [my first since 2019] was limited to a four-day long weekend of tastings on Bordeaux’s right bank in and around St Emilion. I hope to have an in-depth look at the left bank at a later date. Despite the brevity of the trip I looked at hundred plus wines and on the basis of those, 2022 certainly looks to be an exciting vintage for many. It was a hot and dry year, with real heat spikes. Challenging? Yes in some cases but if anything, part of the new normal in Bordeaux in climate and meteorological terms. Stylistically what’s the vintage like in terms of other recent vintages? 2018? 2009? 2003? Any declaration on style is affected by the fact that Bordeaux has evolved considerably over the last decade in winemaking and viticultural terms. In warm years, of which there are now many, picking is less super late, winemaking is generally less extractive and oak handling less obvious. Everyone, it seems, is searching for greater freshness and balance. The comparison most frequently offered by winemakers and proprietors in describing 2022, usually after some procrastination and umpteen caveats, was 2010. Not necessarily in terms of the precise weather conditions. 2010 was a vintage of so-called ‘cool’ maturity, which is not evidently the case in 2022. But there is certainly that level of concentration in the wines, and with much less evident extraction than a decade earlier. I certainly found the tannins in 2022 to be like satin. So, what are the highlights?
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?
The Margaux appellation undoubtedly showed best on the day of the UGCB tasting. It might be that these are now retreating a little but in November 2021 so many of these were lush and flattering to taste. While there are a wide variety of soils in this large and diverse appellation, the wines felt surprisingly homogeneous. The picks? Château Brane Cantenac was knockout. This is a voluptuous 2019 with layers of creamy blackcurrant fruit on the palate with additional notes of plum and black cherry. Château Lascombes is full and lush as usual, showing plenty of delicious ripe fruit but nicely in balance. I was also seriously impressed by wonderful efforts at Château Angludet and Château Monbrison. Angludet looks to be delicious already and has real finesse and freshness. It reminds me of the 2005. Monbrison has clearly made the best wine since their remarkable 2009 [a case of which I have almost worked my way through entirely].