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.
Posts Tagged ‘Margaux’
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].
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?