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  • Country ranking ?

    702
  • Producer ranking ?

    5
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Beef

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The Story

The philosophy behind work in both the vineyard and cellars is akin to that of a goldsmith, as befits a terroir of this calibre. It calls for careful decision-making and meticulous execution.

Soil management is entirely organic and viticulture is sustainable, with green cover between the vine rows and Guyot double pruning. Picking is done entirely by hand. The grapes are sorted and put into small vats corresponding to specific plots; each vat receives individual attention. Pigeage (punching down the cap) is practised.

Winemaking is constantly fine-tuned and whole berries have been fermented since 2012, along with a small proportion of stems to develop floral aromas.

Ageing takes place for 18-24 months in barrels from the finest coopers. Fifty percent of these are new every year.

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Vintage 2016

Bordeaux 2016 in review “A paradox”

by Andrew Caillard MW

The 2016 Bordeaux vintage will be remembered as one of the great years of the 21st century. I haven't been this excited about the prospects of wines this young since the remarkable 2009 and 2010 vintages. At that time, China was at the zenith of its extraordinary rise of fine wines where the highest estates, particularly Château Lafite , had become a backwater currency. Each man and his dog, with a connection to the government, curry favor or accept gifts with the Grand Cru Bordeaux, particularly the Premiers Crus. During this extraordinary period, Bordeaux prices began to rise at a faster rate than Sydney Real Estate. During the filming of Red Obsession in 2011, the Bordeaux wine market had become a classic bubble, even if the main actors still believed otherwise. Self-reliance and denial always go hand in hand. Nonetheless, it took five years for the market to reset. Bordeaux is more confident again. Even China's interest has increased again. The market today is around 280 million euros per year, which illustrates the resilience, power and track record of Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé wines.

 

The 2016 Primeurs are also very different from previous years. There is a changing of the guard with new generations beginning to make their mark at all levels of the industry and wine production. Philippe Bascaules returned from California to Ch Margaux. Eduard Moueix of JP Moueix is clearly on the rise, and the owners of Ch Angelus have passed on their duties to the next generation. This energy, this renewal and this enthusiasm are great for Bordeaux. Chateau owners, winemakers and business leaders seem to be more enlightened and interested in the world around them, even Australia.

 

This very contemporary and sparkling 2016 vintage seems to reflect the freshness and dynamism of a new era of wine. Even Château Pavie, once the poster child of the Robert Parker era, has raised the white flag. Its long alliance with overly sweet sweet wine is over, it seems. The 2016 versus the 2015 is like comparing a racehorse to a sloth, although vintage conditions would normally land on something similar in style. The affable consultant oenologist Michel Rolland, great master of the aesthetics of taste, has clearly evolved with the times. There is no longer a clear individual to impress.

Nevertheless, with Robert Parker now quite far from the scene, there seems to be a merry-go-round of position among ambitious American wine critics in particular. Hard-working James Suckling and James Molesworth of Wine Spectator, like the horses of the apocalypse, have already walked through the starting gates and made their prophecies known to the world. Everything points to an early campaign, but it will likely last forever, such is the tactical perspective and hierarchical nature of this beast.

It's worth putting everything in context. Primeur tasting generally takes place after the end of the malolactic fermentation of the wines. Tasting earlier could in theory compromise or distort the opinion. This is arguably a growing problem with leading wine writers trying to outdo each other. However, it doesn't take a genius to understand the quality of a very good vintage. Color, aromatic complexity, concentration, tannin quality, oak and acidities are key elements and we are all looking for a patterned balance, an individual voice or something to believe in . With so many wines, the nuances can be infinitesimal, certainly from a linguistic point of view, and therefore difficult to really differentiate. An understanding of the winemaking house's background, style and sub-regional characteristics also helps to provide an overall impression. Cultural references, experience, language, personal loyalties, etc. will also give rise to divergent opinions. Fear of not doing things well could also be a factor. And of course there is the 1855 classification, which may have a moderating effect. For example, would a wine critic dare to give a fifth growth a higher score than a first growth?

  • Pomerol
    Olivier Berouet of Ch Petrus describes 2016 as “a vintage that can only be compared to itself”. Clay substrates played an important role in maintaining sufficient soil moisture. Typically, the wines are round, supple and richly flavored with beautiful aromatic complexity, fine and abundant tannins, superb fruit definition and mineral length. The wines have incredible dimension and balance. Vieux Château Certan is in a league of its own with its very clear inimitable house style and luxurious quality. Ch Petrus, Ch Lafleur, Ch Lafleur Petrus, Ch Latour a Pomerol, Ch L’Evangile and Ch La Conseillante are adorable.

    St Emilion
    St Emilion wines are quite varied but many have a dark inky quality with superb pastry fruits and fine chalky textures. Ch Cheval Blanc is very impressive this year and is clearly one of the wines of the vintage. Ch Figeac is slightly more vigorous than its neighbor, but it has produced one of the best wines in twenty years, probably due to the high proportions of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Ch Pavie is also impressive and it's just great to see this legendary brand producing a wine consistent with its status. Ch Pavie Macquin, Ch Pavie Decesse, Ch Canon, Ch Tertre Rotebeouf and Ch Troplong Mondot are all worth seeking out

    Sauternes Barsac
    The dry growing season allowed the Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc to reach full maturity, but the lack of rain was not encouraging. When it finally fell on September 13, the humidity in the vines began to encourage botrytis cinerea (noble rot). Further rain on September 30 and a very useful soaking on October 10 ensured a normal vintage. The results are mixed, but the best estates all produced very good wines. Ch d’Yquem is quite classic but will not be released during this en-primeur campaign. Ch Caillou, Ch Climens, Ch Coutet, de Myrat, Ch Doisy Daene, Ch Guiraud and Ch Lafaurie Peyreguey, Ch Rieussec and Ch Sigalas Rabaud have all made very good wines.

    Dry white Bordeaux
    The region's dry white wines are also generally very good. The fruit has developed very good maturity and many have a very clear lemony curd, sometimes tropical fruit flavors, flint/yeast complexity and very good natural acidities. Many feel quite polished and taught. Ch Haut Brion Blanc and Ch La Mission Haut Brion Blanc are wonderful but what a price for the experience. Ch Pape Clément and Ch Smith Haut Lafitte also made very beautiful wines. The White Pavilion of Ch Margaux is also worth the detour.

     

    2016 BORDEAUX: WINEGROOM OPINION

    2016 will offer the first fully organic Château Latour, and if the positive – almost bullish – rumblings from Bordeaux are to be believed, there will be a lot more excitement to follow:

    “The grapes are already very 'tasty' and the analytical readings are at a good level, improving day by day. We are very confident! » – Guinaudeau family, Lafleur

     

    “Deep vintage...If I'm right, they will age forever. » – Thomas Duroux, Palmer

     

    “We had perfect weather conditions throughout the harvest. No rain, sunny days, cool nights. We were therefore able to wait for perfect phenolic maturity. » – Pierre Graffeuille, Léoville Las Cases

     

    “The wines have a more sober character than in 2009. For me, it is closer to 2010 although a little lower in acidity. In some cases, it is better than in 2015, certainly more so even across the region. » – Hubert de Boüard, Angélus

     

    “It is a vintage with good maturity at the harvest, giving us very beautiful raw material, but with a distinguished structure. » – Bruno Rolland, Léoville Las Cases

     

    “The fact is that dry vintages are still quality vintages. » – Kees Van Leeuwen, White Horse

     

    “The 2016 vintage is a bigger style than 2015. I tasted them side by side. In 2016, the acidity is higher. » – Jean-Christophe Mau, Brown

     

    “The concentration in the grapes this vintage was incredible. » – Jean-Michel Comme, Pontet-Canet

     

    “It’s clearly a great vintage... between 2005 and 2009 in style. » – Philippe Dhalluin, Mouton Rothschild

 

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Tasting note

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Written Notes

Les Carmes Haut Brion - The initial blast of crushed rock, salty tannins and pure, deep, red fruits is all it takes to get hooked here. The nose, with its smoky, cigar box, flowers, leafy herbs, wet earth and sweet cherry notes might have started the show, but it is the intensity and purity in the fruit on the palate, with the 50 second finish that makes it all work. This is a star in the making! I am pointing this out because even though this vintage seems to have doubled in price since we initially raved about it, for a wine of this quality, it is well worth the price. 99 Pts

  • 99p

Deep colour. This is a lovely elegant wine with intense dark elderberry, cassis, graphite aromas, slinky fine graphite textures, attractive dense inky cassis fruit, juicy mid-palate, espresso oak notes which pervade to the finish and long fresh acidity. Has lovely weight, extraction and mineral length. Tasted at Carmes Haut Brion. 95 points                 

  • 95p

Dark purple red with violet hue and black core. Well structured with depth and length, typical aroma reminiscent of ripe berries, graphite and fine toasting aroma. On the palate sweet fruit, firm but ripe tannins, elegant spiciness and convincing length. 92

  • 92p

Ruby. Blackberries, fruity, anise, spices, ripe nose, dark berries, vanilla. Light scented note. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, juicy, fruity, dark berries, spices, anise, detailed, playful, ripe, long. 93-95

  • 94p
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Origin

Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux
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