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Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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.

Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: Pessac-Léognan

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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.

Bordeaux 2016 MW Tasting: Margaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The St Emilion Grand Cru Classé that were tasted bling at the Grand Cercle press tasting at Château de la Dauphine back in April were sensational. They stood out along with the wines from Fronsac [more on these shortly]. I’ve already published posts individually on a number of top chateaux in St Emilion in 2022.  I’m including these tasting notes again in this post, but I’m majoring on notes and analysis on a further sixteen cru classé and a handful of grand cru tasted with the Grand Cercle. There is usually some degree of variation between properties in any given year. The particular challenges of ’22, in terms of heat spikes and near continuous drought, would also have varied depending on terroir, viticulture and winemaking approaches. That being said, the astonishing thing about the wines tasted at the Grand Cercle was the high consistency. Many of the best wines are weighing in at fourteen to fifteen degrees alcohol [and, yes, it does now seem possible for a wine to achieve balance and weigh in at fifteen degrees] but there is surprising freshness in the wines, delicacy even. And the textures are sublime. So, what were the highlights at the Grand Cercle tasting?

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