There was something magical about the top wines in 2018 when first tasted during primeurs. The finest wines had fabulous levels of extract and exotic fruit profiles that were reminiscent of 2009, 1989 and 1982. Just over a year ago the MW Institute put on their 2018 horizontal tasting of all the principal Bordeaux appellations at four years of age. It was instructive. Some of the wines were developing really well and impressed. Others had firmed up considerably and had shut down. There were quite a few others that now felt a bit ponderous and lacking in freshness. There can be no doubt that this heatwave vintage has yielded some remarkable wines, but overall, the vintage continues to lack the overall consistency of 2019 and 2016 vintages from what I have tasted. So, what were the highlights?
Posts Tagged ‘Pessac-Léognan’
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.
The stable of wines that Stephan von Neipperg commands are tip top in 2022. There is an attractive delicacy and freshness here across the board. The wines from St Emilion – Clos de l’Oratoire, Château Canon-La-Gaffelière and the prodigious La Mondotte – are all very impressive. La Mondotte is exceptional. The work horse in the Neipperg line-up is the Castillon, Château d’Aiguilhe, with 90 hectares under vine. This is a fabulous in ’22 – great news for those of us without deep pockets. It will be one of the great values of the vintage. It is also gives a taste of the great many successes the Côtes de Bordeaux have had in 2022 [more on this shortly]. There is also a tiny drop of zippy, saline white made too. Down in Pessac-Léognan, Neipperg’s property Clos Marsalette has made fresh and juicy red wine in 2022 and a forward, full white for early drinking.
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?