Five wines from St Estèphe were shown by the MW Institute in December 2021. Château Montrose [pictured left a few years ago during primeurs] and Château Calon Ségur are both knockout, but contrasting. Calon Ségur is flamboyant with opulent aromatics. The wine is plush on the palate but the sweet fruit hides a considerable structure. It’s a case of the iron fist in the velvet glove. Montrose by contrast is all brooding power and depth, with layer upon layer of concentrated blackcurrant and cassis fruit. Château Cos d’Estournel is beautifully pure with lots of energy and life. It will also be a great wine. Behind these three estates that dominate the appellation, Château Lafon Rochet has produced a structured, solid St Estèphe that needs a bit more time. Château Cos Labory has attractive freshness but doesn’t have the depth of the others.
Posts Tagged ‘St Estèphe’
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?
This is a small snapshot of four wines from St Estèphe. I did look more comprehensively at the appellation in 2019 during primeurs and you can read the report here. Château Lafon Rochet continues to develop well. It was fabulous from cask and remains a seriously impressive wine, one of the best of the last decade. Château Phélan Ségur is polished and balanced, with creamy aromatics and plenty of extract but it remains nicely polished. Château Ormes de Pez felt a little closed at the tasting, but offered up plenty of chunky fruit on the palate. Château de Pez felt a little angular and pinched on the finish, but I expect this will come good with some time in bottle.
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?