Bordeaux 2016 En Primeur: a second taste

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April 20th 2017

With Easter weekend now over it’s time to get back to business!

It was a glorious start to the day in Bordeaux, not even a cloud in the sky. David has been for his run around the course at Relais de Margaux avoiding the man-eating coypus (!) and I’m just about getting rid of the taste of last night’s Tete de Veau (error).

Pichon-Baron

Our schedule for the day was intense to say the least – 14 Chateaux covering over 50 different wines accompanied by the ever-enthusiastic Guillaume Cottin of Dubos.

Highlights of the day included….

Calon Segur in Saint Estephe. The new cellar has been in operation since the 2016 harvest after two years of works. Clearly this has helped create a magnificent wine. It has wonderful purity, the tannins are ripe and well integrated… a true joy to taste – this is certainly one of those great vintages that will age well for many years in bottle.

Basile Tesseron of Lafon Rochet has yet again created a beautiful wine. Basile summed up the vintage well by saying it was a “challenging vintage which became a fairy tale”. They had no pressure with the harvest which meant they were able to do the right thing at the right time. This is very different to Calon, which has more intensity.

Lafon-rochet

One wine which should definitely feature in your cellar is the Ormes de Pez. The 2016 has lovely freshness, nothing is forced, its everything it should be. I will buy a case of magnums for my cellar!

Next up was Lynch Bages… this has to be the greatest Lynch Bages I have ever tasted in barrel – a true joy to taste…. dark fruits, juicy ripe tannins, immense clarity and wonderful freshness… seamless – for me it ticks all the boxes. Structure is pronounced. The 2016 has true Pauillac depth and texture.

Next is the brilliant Pichon Lalande – this is all about finesse and elegance, quintessential Lalande. Very good, integrated tannins. Balance between elegance and finesse with the powerful Pauillac drive underneath. This is such a complete and beautiful wine. New cellars from the 2014 have enabled a new approach. Top class. More precision. This has to feature in your cellar!

Cos d’Estournel was top of the pile. It has wonderful refinement with subtle structure creating a sensational wine! Tannins are ripe and balanced with phenomenal freshness. The fruit is very refined, elegant and sophisticated, there’s huge complexity even at this early stage of its very long life. Magnificent structure. Absolute class in a bottle…. a triumph for Cos.

Cos

A true Goedhuis favourite has to be Grand Puy Lacoste – this year they have created a magnificent wine. The 2016 has good ripeness whilst retaining an attractive mineral freshness. Dense and complex on the palate. Great expression of terroir, nothing forced, totally understated. You just want to drink it – which I did! Keep an eye out for their second wine Lacoste Borie as this could easily be my best value wine of the vintage.

Leoville Las Cases have created a remarkable wine in 2016. Intense red fruit, ethereal nose, phenomenal concentration. Very fine, elegant style with underlying power. Smooth tannic structure, with incredible length. Seamless is yet again the word for it, which pops up in my tasting notes often. 2016 will certainly find its place among the top vintages of Las Cases. It is similar to Latour in style. Iron fist in a velvet glove. Can it get any better? Top class!

Las-Cases

Final highlight of the day was Leoville Barton. We had the opportunity to taste the 2015 and 2016 side by side which doesn’t happen very often. 2015 is powerful, structured with a rich sweet core and very long finish – a fun and vibrant style. The 2016 has very intense ripe red fruit. Lovely silky rich tannins that melt in the mouth. The wine is graceful and seamless. It is normally challenging to evaluate En Primeur but this has to be one of the greatest Bartons I have tasted in barrel. This is a ‘must have’ for the cellar. A true delight!

We finished the evening with a tasting followed by dinner with Henri Lurton and Marie-Helene Dussech of Brane Cantenac. Absolutely one of my favourite Chateaux – I was a massive fan of 2015 but it’s wrong to make comparisons between the two. The 2016 shows everything about Brane at its best. It always has the brightness of fruit and this year’s vintage really exemplifies this. Lots of intensity – quintessentially Margaux. Dinner wines included 2010 Baron de Brane, 2005, 1985 & 1983 Brane Cantenac….the perfect end to a perfect day!

Brane-bottles

I have to say today was certainly the most pleasurable day’s tasting I have ever had in Bordeaux. I’ve never tasted any other vintage like it from barrel – the wines were exceptional!

This year it’s the balance of nature. Incredible extremes which end up with perfect balance and harmony. 2016 has the most pure expression of terroir. Perfect balance and freshness!

Aymeric de Gironde of Cos d’Estournel described the vintage in detail saying “This is the vintage where you can see the distinction between good terroir and great terroir. The challenge is to make the decision not be forced to make the decision”

This is clearly a quality vintage – and we have tasted some outstanding wines today. However it’s not true across the board and, as always, careful selection will be vital when filling your cellar.

Day two awaits!