May 3rd 2016
Week 2 of the 2015 En Primeur campaign has started with a flurry of three high class but great value single estate wines from the northern Médoc’s most recognised appellations, St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien. Each has its own outstanding pedigree.
Ch Capbern is under the ownership of Ch Calon Ségur and historically formed part of the Grand Vin up until 2006. Ch Pibran is also an individual vineyard managed and under the ownership of Ch Pichon Baron in Pauillac. Finally a long-time favourite of ours, Ch Moulin Riche in St Julien, is from the Cuvelier family of Ch Léoville-Poyferré.
In our opinion these wines offer the very best of the 2015 vintage. They show the strength of their vineyard location, the enormous benefits gained from the management team of their grander affiliated estates, and most importantly of all, true value in a price category where many have forgotten how Bordeaux can excel like no other wine region in the world.
These are lovely wines which will sit beautifully in a cellar before reaching a prime of drinking in 8 15 years’ time, each reflecting the very best of their appellations’ characteristics.
Ch Capbern St Estèphe 2015
£140.00 per 12 IB
This 35 ha vineyard sitting between Ch Phélan Ségur and Ch Meyney compises 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. It is a superb example of the marriage between complex dark fruit flavours and structured substance that is so much the personality of the appellation of St Estèphe. Wine director Laurent Dufau and his team have crafted a stunning wine, with a striking damson sheen. On the nose it is beautifully scented, full of violets and hedgerow fruits. A wine of great harmony, with a refined tannic structure. Not an absolute power house, but with its delicious balance it will be a classical mature claret with age. Drink 2021-2030. 90-92 points Goedhuis
The 2015 Capbern (formerly Capbern Gasqueton) is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot, to be matured in 60% new oak over the next 18 months. This is the first time that Petit Verdot has been included in the blend from new plantings, around ten-years-old now. It has a crisp blackberry and bilberry scented bouquet, quite linear, a floral aspect emerging after a couple of minutes in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with quite a structured opening, a decidedly more masculine Capbern Gasqueton in the making, with a slight tinniness towards the finish. Give this 3-4 years in bottle for the jaggedness in those tannins to soften. Drink 2019-2030. 88-90 points Neal Martin
In 2015, Capbern seems to have secured its own identity fully and it is now a worthy addition to the roll call of famous Saint-Estèphe Châteaux. Pure, purple-hued, forward, smooth and juicy, this is a sprightly, clean wine and with Petit Verdot making itself heard in the blend, bringing spice and structure to the crisp tannins. Delicious and immediate this is a very satisfying wine. 16.5 points Matthew Jukes
The 2015 Capbern is striking. Pliant, open-knit and seductive, the 2015 offers lovely radiance and superb balance, especially at this level. Black cherry, plum, mint and violet notes are laced into the aromatic, silky finish. There is so much to like in this forward, fruit-driven Saint-Estèphe. The blend is 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Tasted three times. 88-90 points Antonio Galloni
Ch Moulin Riche St Julien 2015
£190.00 per 12 IB
Ch Moulin Riche is a 22 ha vineyard sitting a little further inland than Léoville Poyferré, and therefore tends to produce a softer more advanced style of St Julien. A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Striking opaque colour, this has charming, floral, perfumed aromas, full of summer pudding characters. In the palate it starts with a gentle giving personality, full of succulence and generosity, which is then followed by a central tannic core that takes over to provide persistence and depth. Drink 2021-2030. 90-92 points Goedhuis
The 2015 Moulin Riche is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, the 20 hectares of vine located further inland than those of Léoville-Poyferré. It has a sumptuous, quite rich bouquet with Morello cherry, raspberry coulis and mineral scents. Didier Cuvelier has managed to find impressive purity here. The palate is medium-bodied with chewy tannin, a robust and forthright Moulin Riche with plenty of depth and “guts” towards the finish. Afford this 5-6 years in bottle. This should turn out to be a “hearty” wine. Drink 2021-2045. 89-91 points Neal Martin
Didier Cuvelier likes this vintage saying it is a mix between 2001 and 2005. Balanced and bright, with a slightly darker hue, this is a superb Moulin Riche with more ageing potential than many and it’s one of Didier’s favourite ever vintages. Charming, classy and fruit-driven, I am a big fan, too. 17+ points Matthew Jukes
The 2015 Moulin Riche is dark, plummy and absolutely delicious. The more fruit-driven, supple side of Saint-Julien comes through in an attractive, forward wine endowed with terrific depth and plenty of personality. The 2015 is not a big wine, rather it is built on a core of juiciness, with sweet floral and spices notes that round things out nicely. Best of all, the 2015 should drink well early. 89-92 points Antonio Galloni
Ch Pibran Cru Bourgeois Pauillac 2015
£230.00 per 12 IB
There is always a touch of hedonisim to this wonderfully flamboyant 17 ha estate, sitting behind the vineyard of Ch Pontet Canet. A no nonsense blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot, it is a striking dense purple colour. On the nose there is a symphony of summer fruits. This is a lovely luscious wine, whilst not losing its Pauillac core and backbone. Very easy, ripe tannins, the dark black fruit flavours with hints of Valrhona chocolate provide for charm and huge appeal on the finish. Lovely. Drink 2021-2033. 91-93 points Goedhuis
The 2015 Pibran is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot, matured in 50% new oak for the next 18 months. It was picked between 21 September and 8 October. It has a precise, tightly wound bouquet at first, graphite-tinged black fruit gently unfurling with a suggestion of iodine in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, moderate depth leading to a classic, foursquare, tobacco-tinged finish. Stylish and sure to give 10-15 years of drinking pleasure. Drink 2020-2035. 89-91 points Neal Martin
An attractive burst of fruit on the nose signals an open, bright wine and on the palate it grows into a rich, full style with spice and bumptious notes. Rather chunky and jolly and quite four square this is not a long or sophisticated wine but one that is simply rather good fun. The ripeness is tempered with the small Cabernet berries and good skins. Even though it rained, there was no rot here because there was an absence of risk thanks to the very hot spells earlier in the season. 16.5+ points Matthew Jukes
The 2015 Pibran is soft, succulent and quite pretty. Sweet floral and spice notes meld into a core of dark red stone fruits in an attractive, supple wine that will drink well pretty much upon release. This is a lovely, fruit-driven Pauillac with considerable near term appeal. 88-90 points Antonio Galloni