Bordeaux 2016 UGC Day 1: Pauillac and St Estèphe

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April 4th 2017

First day of Bordeaux En Primeur 2016 and I was a bit fearful of huge tannins, given it’s my first En Primeur, but wow… all I can say is this day did not disappoint. The common theme of the day was the clear freshness & purity of fruit and the gorgeously finely integrated tannins. This vintage has seen very high yields, particularly among Margaux, Pauillac, St Estephe, and Pomerol, though I am only focusing on Pauillac and St Estèphe today…

Big start with Château Latour… one of my favorite Château. They may be out of the formal En Primeur system, having released this year the 2005 Grand Vin, but I am happy to report that the 2016 was fantastic! We also tried the 2016 Pauillac, which was such a challenge not to drink, and it was only at 9am! Followed by the Les Forts de Latour which was so easy to appreciate, given its age. The day definitely started on a high note!

Latour-mist

Next up were the Pichon siblings. First off was Pichon Lalande, a treasured childhood favourite of mine where I fondly remember running around as a young girl while my parents tried the new vintage together with former proprietor, Madame May de Lencquesaing. First up Pichon Lalande’s pair. I struggled to spit the Reserve de La Comtesse which was incredibly charming and so lush. The Grand Vin was one of my favourites of the day, as it was such classically great Pichon Lalande in style, full bodied, so well balanced, and firing on all cylinders.

Pichon Baron provided us with a full show of their range. Les Griffons, with 52% Cabernet and 48% Merlot started it off with a youthful, but tight and linear note. The Grand Vin was very brooding with a high level of acidity, tempered by a richness of fruit that made the wine all too easy to finish.

Pichon-Baron

A surprise at this estate were the wines of Château Suduiraut. We started with the Blanc Sec de Suduiraut. This is only their second vintage. Made from 20-25 year old vines, this can be seen as a precursor to the S de Suduiraut, but should also appreciated in its own right, It was fantastic. S de Suduiraut comes from at least 45 year old vines and was also delicious. Everything I want in a white Bordeaux. Next up, Suduiraut itself. As a self-proclaimed Sauternes nut, I couldn’t get enough of this wine. Pineapple, passion fruit, sweet spice, the wine was a return to traditional Sauternes and was just glorious.

Two heavy weight Pauillac giants awaited us next. Xavier Borie greeted us at Grand Puy Lacoste, presenting a Grand Vin that was plush and velvety yet, with the continuation of this fresh fruit character we had seen since Latour. Alfred Tesseron, of Pontet Canet, presented his 40th vintage, which was a pleasure to taste. It had incredibly well integrated tannins and again the wonderful fresh blackcurrant fruit on the palate & finish. Difficult to put down…

Mouton Rothschild has always been a favourite of mine, and tasting with Philippe Dhalluin is an absolute delight. Monsieur Dhalluin told us this is the best Petit Mouton he has ever made, and I couldn’t agree more. Lush, round, fabulous tannin integration, how could I complain. Le Grand Vin was classic Mouton, brooding, deep, present but not too obvious tannins, and still, incredible dark fruit freshness. An absolute pleasure to try. PS: If you are an Aile d’Argent fan, don’t shy away from this Bordeaux Blanc. Very successful this vintage.

St Estèphe has shone in 2016… having tried 6 estates, nothing disappointed.

Beginning at Château Lafon Rochet with Basile Tesseron who is such a joy to spend time with. I have known him for close to a decade and he makes truly beautiful wines. 2016 is however his masterpiece. For them a fantastic vintage of which Basile could not have been more proud. It was such a beautiful wine, beginning the trend of elegant and very pure wines we found in St Estèphe.

Château Montrose’s stable of wines were stunning. Deep and intense, with once again bright fruit ruling. These were unctuous yet elegant and so well balanced that it was hard to turn away from the wines.

Next up was Château Les Ormes de Pez, and as it turned out I was the only one of our group who had previously been to the estate! The 2016 Ormes de Pez was a bit more dense on the palate as was expected of a wine made by the Cazes family, but still followed on the same stream of easily loved wines from the St Estèphe appellation. The Grand Vin de Château Lynch Bages was typical and delightfully so. Embracing what Lynch Bages is, it showcased a high level of tannins with a great fruit forward backbone and structure. I look forward to trying this again as it develops.

Last Château of the day, Calon Segur. This was such a pleasure to finish on. The sun was out, temperatures were high, and the range of wines, Château Capbern, Le Marquis de Calon and finally Château Calon Segur, all held the similar line of delicious fruit freshness and sweet spice that made this so hard to spit. Any of these wines would be a delicious addition to your cellars!

The new cellars at Calon Segur
The new cellars at Calon Segur