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  • Country ranking ?

    440
  • Producer ranking ?

    19
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    from 2025
  • Food Pairing

    Duck

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BORDEAUX 2017: PETRUS ‘WINE OF THE VINTAGE’

Every year in advance of the annual en primeur campaign, Liv-ex polls its 400 global members to get their thoughts on the vintage, compiling their answers to give something of a snapshot of the vintage including; the best wines, those tipped to be (with any luck) the ‘best value’, where the vintage ranks against its recent peers and expected demand from customers.

When asked to rank the ‘best’ ...

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The Story

Drinking Pétrus may be an unforgettable experience. We has been lucky to have the opportunity to taste most of its great vintages. That is why wine enthusiasts often come to us for advice. First, WeI advise you to choose a good vintage, an excellent one if your wallet allows. If you taste a poor vintage, you will notice how it raises above most other wines of the same vintage, but you will miss the actual point of Pétrus.

Second, purchase w...

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Wine Information

A heterogeneous vintage, 2017 will remain in the memory of a lot of vintners with very mixed feelings. An early bud break put hopes very high for a good vintage. These hopes were destroyed by a frost period of historical dimensions. On April 20 an 21 as well as on April 27 and 28 the frost destroyed 30 to 50% of the harvest in the Gironde area, though the best terroirs and famous appellations have been less affected. An early and regular flowe...

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Tasting note

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Written Notes

Nuanced and developed reds are medium-bodied or full-bodied wines in which maturation has created notes of leather, stable, oak and herbs.

These earthy flavours and aromas become more pronounced as the wine matures and develops. Oak maturation also adds spicy and vanilla notes.

 

  • 96p

I love the aromatics to this with crushed berries, violets and black olives. Hints of vanilla and some caramel. Decadent. Full-bodied and round with very creamy tannins that melt into the wine. It starts off slowly and and then kicks off a few seconds later. The tannins are extremely polished and refined. Hard not to drink now, but wait. Try after 2025.

  • 98p

The 2017 Pétrus was tasted on two occasions just over one week apart, the second on 9 April being significantly different to the first. My note comes from the second and as usual I afforded the sample 10 minutes to open. It has an expressive bouquet that is slightly confit in style with red cherry, blackberry, black truffle and light iris scents, all detailed and focused. The bouquet needs less encouragement to open than the previous two vintages. The palate is extremely well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, fresh and vivacious from the very start. At its core lies a mixture of red and black fruit laced with black truffle and cracked black pepper, a discrete spiciness towards the velvety finish and then modest salinity lingering on the aftertaste. It is the second reading that attested to the “serious” side of this Pétrus and its cerebral side. I found more grip and linearity, clearly more complexity and less fatness towards the finish and I anticipate that these facets will become more accentuated as it develops in barrel. Whilst not the greatest Pétrus that I have tasted out of barrel, Olivier Berrouet has fashioned an almost mercurial and beguiling Pomerol.

  • 96p

The 2017 Petrus is simply stunning. A rich, deep and voluptuous wine endowed with rapturous beauty. Vivid and wonderfully alive, with ripe, polished tannins, the 2017 is simply impeccable. Jean-Claude Berrouet told me he had never seen a harvest at Petrus stretch out over a three full weeks. Olivier Berrouet added that the berries were quite small. He opted for longer skin contact than normal, about 30 days, with pumpovers of one volume of wine per day at the beginning of fermentation. Even in the early going, Petrus is shaping up to be truly magnificent.

  • 97p

The 2017 Chateau Petrus is, as always, 100% Merlot that's from the top of the Pomerol plateau. The 2017 is an incredibly elegant, perfumed example from this estate that has terrific cassis, raspberry, and red currants fruits as well as lots of floral and violet hints, medium to full body, a beautiful spine of acidity, and building tannins. It's not a blockbuster like the 2015 and 2016, yet it’s flawlessly balanced, with stunning purity of fruit and a great, great finish. Give bottles a solid 7-8 years, and it should keep for 20-25+.

  • 95p

Less than 50% new oak.
Very dark and super-fragrant. Beautifully intense cassis aroma, very pure, gorgeous dusty graphite nose, and a light note of violets. Beautifully dry and with finest of textures. Opens up to sweet spice and some red fruit. Iris root – used in perfume – says winemaker Olivier Berrouet. Caressing texture, supple. Becomes ever more floral with air. Incredibly smooth. A beauty.

  • 95p

Ruby. Incredible purity on the nose, blueberries, dark fruits, some red berries, an array of floral notes nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fresh, fruity, playful and detailed, lovely balance, nuanced and long, superb! 97-99

  • 98p

Dark purple red with violet hue and almost black core. Very expressive nose with complex fruit, blackcurrants, blackberries, hints of raspberries and black cherries. Elegant aroma reminiscent  of violets, iris, peony?, very pure aromatic structure. Opulent nose with a wonderful, almost creamy texture, ripe tannins, very elegant and complex fruit, discreet flowery flavour and a wonderful sweetness. A great wine with incredible length on a very fruity base. A wine with excellent length, potential and great balance! My star of the vintage. 99+

  • 99p
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Information

Origin

Bordeaux, Pomerol

Other wines from this producer

Saute-Loup Reserve de La Famille

Inside Information

Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is in France for his 2017 vintage Bordeaux barrel tastings. While there, he's visiting the châteaus of some of the region's top estates, as well as some up-and-coming new producers.

Having worked my way down the Left Bank, a view of the 2017 vintage begins to come into focus: ripe, fresh, clean and direct wines that are more modest in terms of concentration, with lighter-bodied but ripe tannins and good acidity. A solid vintage that will provide tasty drinking while you wait for 2015 and '16 to mature.

But there's still another bank to go. So, I change hotels and cross the Dordogne into Pomerol to start my tastings on the Right Bank, where Merlot rather than Cabernet Sauvignon takes the lead.

Winemaker Olivier Berrouet describes 2017 simply as "A crazy year."

"We faced a lot of issues, starting with the frost on April 27 and 28. Luckily we had bought candles and an anti-frost tower (large mobile fans) a couple of years ago. Everyone thought I was a little crazy when I did it," Berrouet says. "But after the frost they were asking me where I got the machine."

With Berrouet's prescient foresight, there was no frost damage at Pétrus in 2017. And on this visit, not only did Pétrus' vineyard have mobile frost-protection windmills in them, but a few of the neighbors' did as well.

"It's quite a different year for us. '16 was red fruit, very classic structure, very typical Pétrus. '17 is more fruity, with black fruit and a touch of tar. We had to be careful if we pushed a little too far, as we could have gotten something a little more aggressive or raw tannin," he says. "So, we used a paradox, longer vinification but less working of the wine during the maceration. We had 23 days of vinification versus 17 in vintages like '09 and '10. And then we did less pump-over and we made sure not to go over 27° C during the maceration—in other years it can reach 30°."

"I was talking with my dad and he said you have to be careful with this kind of vintage," Berrouet recalls. "It's like eating a ripe melon. You keep eating and eating, but suddenly you get that one bit close to the rind and you've gone too far, and the bad taste is in your mouth."

"Harvest started Sept. 8, finished on the 26th. Three weeks is quite long for us because we are a small estate. But the blocks were behaving differently. It was hard to find the development of maturity. The young vines reacted quite differently from the old vines. The old vines handled the change from wet and cold spring to the warm and dry season better."

Note: These wines were tasted non-blind. Official barrel scores and tasting notes for wines submitted to Wine Spectator's blind tasting here in Bordeaux will be published at the end of my trip.

The 2017 Pétrus is all raspberry and boysenberry puree, which glides through effortlessly, picking up flecks of anise, black tea and mineral. This young wine has a sublime mouthfeel with a long, beguiling perfume through the finish. At first sip it seems a touch lighter in frame than usual, but it steadily puts on weight in the glass. It's easily better than the '11 or '13 version and should settle in somewhere around the '14 in terms of quality.


While Pétrus is essentially a varietal (all-Merlot) that sits solely on the blue clay in the center of the plateau of Pomerol, its neighbors spiral outward from there, with the terroir shifting to clay and gravel and then eventually sand, while Cabernet Franc plays a role as well

At Vieux Château Certan, Guillaume Thienpont works alongside his father Alexandre, sourcing their grapes from a mix of clay and gravel soils. This has become a reference-point estate over the past decade and is also a regular stop for me.

"We have a feeling of relief now," says Guillaume. "We escaped the frost, as did all the estates on the plateau in Pomerol. And then from there the year was early from flowering through the harvest—one of the earliest in 20 years. But even though it is early, we were able to take our time a bit with harvesting. Young-vine Merlot, then we stopped. Then the old-vine Merlot and we stopped, and so on."

Harvest went from Sept. 9 through Oct. 2 and yields here were a respectable 2.7 tons per acre, just a touch less than in 2016. The 81 percent Merlot, 14 Cabernet Framc, 5 Cabernet Sauvignon blend has a bit more Cabernet Sauvignon than usual, as the late-ripening grapes did well in 2017. Aged in its typical two-thirds new oak, the wine checks in at an evenhanded 14.2 percent alcohol.

The 2017 Vieux Château Certan is brimming was dark plum, raspberry and blackberry puree flavors. It's silky, but powerfully rendered, with a terrific bolt of licorice snap through the finish and a long mineral note underneath. All that and it still maintains a sense of freshness. This is another stunner in the making, even in this slightly more modest vintage.

The Thienponts also manage a little vineyard for Alexandre's cousin, Jacques Thienpont.

The inverse of Pétrus, the 2017 Le Pin is also 100 percent Merlot, but from vines situated only on gravel, as opposed to clay. 

"There was a little bit of hydric [stress] on the gravel soils as opposed to clay," says Guillaume. "But not as much as '16."

Aged in 100 percent new oak, it delivers a torrent of blackberry and fig sauce flavors with a light brambly edge weaving throughout. It sports lots of melted licorice and black tea as well, with the fruit kicking into another gear through the finish. 

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