The wines recommended in our brochure are listed below with our tasting notes and scores. The major critics' notes and scores will also become available as they are published.
As wines are released onto the market they appear in the top section of the list, and their release dates and prices will be updated. You can check availability and buy online from our list of released wines, but we will also be able to source many wines on request so do get in touch.
Dark purple colour, with open aromas of dark chocolate and hints of vanilla. In the palate this wine has a full, broad mouthfeel with sweet, ripe fruit. Very true to the origins of Palmer and a lovely second wine.
The 2017 Alter Ego is matured in 25% new oak. It has quite a rich, dark chocolate-tinged bouquet that is driven by the Merlot, almost Right Bank in style. It just lacks the same detail and clarity as the Grand Vin. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannin, nicely balanced, certainly one of the more approachable Alter Ego in recent years with a touch of spice and clove towards the finish. 2021 - 2035
A blend of 53% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot, the 2017 Alter Ego de Palmer is very deep purple-black in color and gives up exuberant crushed red currants, red cherries, black plums and mulberries with touches of forest floor, garrigue and lavender plus a waft of dark chocolate. The palate is medium-bodied with a good core of plummy fruit and very soft, plush tannins, sparked by just enough freshness, finishing fruity.
Inky black colour. Delicate and super-pure dark fruit, Dark and savoury on the palate, rich and deep in savoury black fruit. Very smooth but with attractive density, smooth and dark and very long. Elegant and flowing across the palate. (JH) Drink 2025-2035
This shows excellent body and depth of fruit. Rich and very deep. Layered and flavorful. Solid and chewy. Serious second wine.
The 2017 Alter Ego is wonderfully lifted and floral, with a persistent red berry character that carries through to the finish effortlessly. The 2017 is a very pretty Alter Ego that will drink well with minimal cellaring. There is so much to like here. The blend is 53% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Technical Director Thomas Duroux told me his team harvested all the fruit in nine days as opposed to the more typical 2-3 weeks. The 2017s were done with no SO2 at crush. Duroux stopped the pumpovers early and favored gentle extractions. Both wines are in the 13-13.2% range of finished alcohol.
The blends for the grand vin and second wine are similar this year. This is carefully presented, accomplished and precise, with fresh mint and peony notes on the nose followed by bright and vibrant black fruit flavours. It's extremely pretty, with some lovely floral notes. The yield was 38hl/ha as they lost a few plots to frost over to the west of the appellation. 13.5% press wine. 45% of overall production, representing 9,000 cases. IPT 66. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
. A refined vintage, from Thomas Duroux’s point of view, this is also a precocious wine with rather lovely succulence on the mid-palate. The colour is very dense and yet the palate is lifted and clean. There is no early addition of SO2 here and he only uses native yeasts as this helps to keep the colour bold and bright. There is little obvious tannin here because the balance of the skin and oak is sublime. Similar in shape to the 2008 and really enticing and glossy without being showy.
Despite losing 15% of their Cabernet Franc vines to the frost, Hubert de Boüard has still managed to produce a very complete wine from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Smoky, sweet dark fruit aromas. This wine is full and intense, yet nothing is forced. It has a lovely restrained richness, and tannins that are totally integrated. This is a wine that justifies the estate’s recent elevation to 1er Grand Cru Classé status.
The 2017 Angélus has a crisp, direct and very pure bouquet that is almost Burgundy-like in style. Crushed blackberry, hints of cassis, just a suggestion of bell pepper emanating from the Cabernet Franc and a faint estuarine scent all come through although unusually for this Saint-Émilion, they take three or four minutes to coalesce. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, but quite firm in the mouth. There is a marine-influence to this Saint-Émilion with a chalky, lightly spiced and, relative to 2015 and 2016, quite conservative and linear style. It feels very saline on the finish, perhaps more than I have encountered in recent years. It foregoes the roundness of recent vintages, perchance an Angélus that will be best shown on the dinner table instead of on its own. That's not a bad thing. Excellent. 2022 - 2045
A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the deep purple-black colored 2017 Angélus is a little closed to begin, opening out beautifully to notes of baked plums, fresh blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of mocha, bay leaves, beef drippings and wood smoke plus a touch of roses. Medium to full-bodied with a great density of mid-palate fruit and firm, fine-grained tannins, it finishes long and earthy with a compelling lift.
Inky crimson. Redolent of classy and spicy oak but the fruit fragrance is there too, waiting to emerge after the chocolate dies back. A fine note of graphite and Cabernet Franc leafy (but fully ripe) freshness. Spicy and fresh on the palate. Rich and finely textured, with the oak giving way to the fruit on the palate. Very good balance even at this early stage. Savoury dark-chocolate, clean finish. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
A layered and fine-grained young Angelus with very focused and integrated tannins that give the young wine form and focus. Full body and a subtle and fascinating fruit character. Should turn out beautifully.
The 2017 Angélus is impeccable. Bright and energetic, with terrific lift from the 30% Cabernet Franc, Angélus is super-expressive today. There is lovely depth and density to the fruit, even if the finish narrows just a touch. In 2017 Angélus is less powerful than it typically is, with less overt oak influence. Whether or not that is a reflection of the vintage alone, or indicative of a slight evolution in style is a question that can only be answered in the future. In the meantime, there is plenty to like about the 2017. The Merlot saw 3-4 weeks on the skins, while the Cabernet was macerated about a week longer. Aging is in 100% new French oak, with slightly lower toast levels than in the past. Production will be about 20% less than normal because of frost damage.
A very plush nose explodes from the glass with oak and fruit both working in tandem. This is another welcome example of a wine with superb flavour and colour, but without excess muscle and testosterone. Angélus has embraced the vintage rather than trying to imprint its own character on the wine. There is a dark and daring espresso and chocolate edge to this wine which adds to the appeal and it also manages to work extremely well with the oak, too. A relatively forward-drinking vintage, which will also keep well, this is a huge success for this property and with the stunning, but strikingly different, second wine as part of the offering the 2017 vintage is complete for this estate.
Along with Clerc Milon, this is another Pauillac property in the Baron Philippe de Rothschild stable. There is something distinctive and charming about this wine’s aromatics. They have a wonderful concentration of fresh fruits and liquorice spice. Freshness on the palate is not derived from simple acidity, but from a mineral salinity and the cool structure of its flavours that range from dark berries to nutmeg spice. The tannins are fine, and slightly grainy, with a persistent finish.
The 2017 d’Armailhac has an opulent bouquet despite this comprising one of the highest percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon ever, which Philippe Dhalluin attributes to the maturity of the berries. There is some lovely cassis and blueberry fruit here with a smear of vanilla. The palate is structured with fine tannin, here the Cabernets are much more expressive with a fine bead of acidity, an attractive pencil lead tincture coming through towards the finish. This is a more floral d’Armailhac that will drink well for the next decades. [Readers should note that my sample included 60% new oak although the final blend will be 40%.] Tasted three times with consistent notes. 2020 - 2035
A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the 2017 D'Armailhac is deep garnet-purple in color and very open on the nose with expressive notes of crushed black cherries, black raspberries and cassis with hints of baking spices, lavender and wood smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a great core of vibrant red and black fruits, ripe, grainy tannins and superb freshness, finishing long and minerally.
Very dark crimson with purple rim. Intense aroma of pure cassis and graphite, inviting mineral dustiness. Rich and full-fruited on the palate. Again, there's depth here as well as freshness. Chalky/chewy tannins on the finish but balanced by the fruit. Mouth-watering finish. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
Opulent and powerful for d’Armailhac with blackcurrants, blackberries and black olives. Full-bodied, tannic and extremely muscular. Very well done indeed.
The 2017 d'Armailhac is soft, open-knit and fruity, with plenty of luscious fruit and considerable near-term appeal. Gentle contours, silky tannins and lifted aromatics add to the wine's appeal. Because of the late-season rains and their negative effect on Merlot, the 2017 has the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (68%) since records exist, with the exception of the 2002.
The dry conditions in the summer hurt the Merlots in many areas, and consequently many wines have a higher level of Cabernet. Here, they have used the highest percentage in Armailhac since 2002. There's great energy to the pretty dark fruit; it's not fleshy but it has a lovely sense of direction with concentration and beautiful extraction. Fine tannins lend good grip through the palate. The drought rather than the frost impacted yields here, but only to 40hl/ha. Harvested 6-29 September. 40% new oak. All blends at Mouton completed by 1 December, the earliest ever. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
A lovely mid-red, glossy colour with a dense foresty nose and taut fruit on the palate, this is a closed, firm d’Armailhac with nice richness and a slate-y, cool finish. There is a decent amount of spice here, presumably from the slight under-ripeness and this matches well with the stern fruit.
Strong garnet hue, this is a classically styled Cabernet-based wine, full of striking cassis and blackcurrant fruits. Not as broad as some years but nicely layered, with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla pod, and a lightly herbal edge. Its medium length will make this approachable from an early age.
The 2017 Batailley was picked between 19 and 27 September at 52hl/ha. Like the deuxième vin, the nose demands coaxing from the glass, initially quite restrained with cedar and cigar box infused black fruit that finally begin to unfold after five minutes. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly chewy tannin, fine depth and balance, well judged acidity and a precise, quintessential Pauillac finish. This feels long on the aftertaste – a fine follow-up to the 2015 and 2016 and it may well land at the top of my banded score. Tasted three times with consistent notes. 2022 - 2040
Blended of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Batailley gives profound notes of crème de cassis, preserved plums and licorice over a core of espresso, tapenade and Marmite toast. Medium-bodied with a ripe, firm backbone of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness supporting the vivacious, sustained fruit, it finishes long with a red fruit lift.
Deep crimson. Sweet cassis and light-handed oak giving a very slight char. Quite chewy on the palate, a little austere with the structure outmanoeuvring the fruit at the moment. (JH) Drink 2025-2034
This is a classically structured young Pauillac with tannins that roll over the finish. Medium to full body and a bright aftertaste.
The 2017 Batailley is a powerful, tightly wound wine. Inky dark fruit, leather, lavender, spice and menthol open with some coaxing, with beams of supporting tannin that extend the mid-palate into the finish nicely.
The first year under the Cazes family, and we can expect big changes over the next few years with an extensive replanting programme planned. But for now, let's look at 2017, where production has been split 33% second wine and 66% grand vin, with no frost to hamper them. It's rich and deep, with a sense of forward motion and flexible tannins pushing the cassis fruit from start to finish, joined by focussed and lively brambled fruits and gentle cedar smoking. The austerity is clear, and it's a little lighter-framed than the Lynch Bages, and very different in personality, but it has real promise and I like it enormously. Expect a new label with the Tour d'Aspic tower and the JM Cazes family name. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2036
Very clean and fresh and while not overly complex this is a very complete and satisfying wine. The oak is perfectly judged and the fruit is dense and compact while retaining freshness.
Always a sound bet, this wine is terrific value for money. The 2017 exemplifies Cru Bourgeois quality. Dark inky purple in colour, it is full of Black Forest fruits, with good intensity and bright freshness on the finish.
The 2017 Beaumont has a simple blackberry, raspberry preserve and charcoal-tinged bouquet, nicely defined but not intense. It doesn’t have to be. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly tough tannin on the entry, structured and quite dense with a stocky finish that has a pleasant blackberry and iodine aftertaste. Fine. 2020 - 2028
Owned by the same group as Beychevelle, this is a fairly even split of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a dash of Petit Verdot. The austerity of the vintage is on display in its slightly dour tannins, but it's well-held together and has a 2014 feel about it. There's good depth to the fruit. A good value choice. Drinking Window 2022 - 2030
The installation of the new winery at this beautiful château has taken its quality to a new level. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, this is a plump and giving wine, with flavours of damson and bullace plum, and hints of mocha. Rewarding, and with lovely balance.
The 2017 Beauregard, whose lower reaches were hit by the frost, has a straightforward bouquet with touches of mint and fennel infusing the red and black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, a little bitterness towards the second half that just deprives this of the harmony it might have otherwise had. There is a fairly long finish so let’s see how this performs once in bottle. 2021 - 2031
The lower lying part of this vineyard in Pomerol received some frost. A blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Beauregard is medium garnet-purple colored with a nose of warm red currants and kirsch plus suggestions of potpourri and dusty soil. Medium-bodied, it is just a little lean in the mid-palate with grippy tannins leading to a firm finish.
Very little aroma, just a hint of graphite. Could do with more flesh in the middle to help with the light but dry tannins. Pretty lean. (JH) Drink 2022-2027
Shows some serious length here with berries, chocolate and orange peel. Medium body, firm tannins and a fresh finish. 40% cabernet franc makes this happen. Rest merlot.
The 2017 Beauregard is the best vintage Florence and Daniel Cathiard, along with Technical Director Fabien Tietjien, have made so far. Silky, plush and wonderfully inviting, the 2017 has quite a bit to offer. Bold Cabernet Franc notes add lift and savoriness to the bold, punchy Merlot fruit in this impeccable, harmonious Pomerol. All the elements are beautifully woven together. This is a terrific showing.
A very fresh and atypically light and red-fruited Beauregard with a gentle palate and an immediate air. The fruit is tender and juicy and the tannins are present but lightly dusty and barely astringent. Forward and gentle, this is a decent wine but it is not a Vin de Garde.
The Wertheimer brothers, owners of fashion house Chanel and celebrated neighbouring property Ch Canon, purchased this historic estate in August 2017, just ahead of the harvest. Vinified by the same team as Ch Canon, they describe the 2017 at Ch Berliquet as a “transition vintage”. They plan to make significant upgrades to the cellar and viticultural practices, but the raw material seems very promising. They have tried to draw out the freshness and fruity minerality of the vineyard using the expertise practiced at Canon. There is a charming exuberance to the 70% Merlot, with freshness and fine tannin structure brought by the 30% Cabernet Franc. One to watch.
The 2017 Berliquet, which is matured in new oak, has quite a pure black cherry and iodine bouquet. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a fine bead of acidity, quite harmonious if just missing a little complexity towards the finish. This Saint-Émilion is more about the silky texture that I hope will be in situ after bottling. 2021 - 2030
Deep purple-black in color, the 2017 Berliquet has a lovely perfume of violets, pencil lead and baking spices over a core of kirsch, wild blueberries and red currant jelly plus a waft of underbrush. Medium-bodied, fine and fresh in the mouth with firm, chewy tannins, it's elegant and perfumed with a long finish.
Some berry and spice character and a salty undertone. Medium body and a fresh finish. Firm and silky tannins. Shows some drive at the end. This is the first year from the owners of Canon.
The 2017 Berliquet is quite dense and powerful, but also a bit rough around the edges. It will be interesting to see if aging helps soften some of the angular contours that are present today. There is good depth to the red-toned fruit, but the wine is not fully put together. This is the first vintage overseen by Nicolas Audebert following Chanel's acquisition of the estate. Berliquet is going to require quite a bit of investment and work.
In recent years Ch Beychevelle has reclaimed its former glory, re-establishing itself as one of the finest examples of great St Julien. The introduction of their new state-of-the-art winery this year has taken them to new heights. This blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot is full of life. With bright, pure, energetic berry and plum fruits, and a subtle tannic structure sitting underneath, this is a finely balanced wine with excellent ageing potential.
The 2017 Beychevelle was cropped at 54hl/ha between 18 September and 3 October, matured in around 60% new oak with 13.4° alcohol. It has a very ripe blueberry, almost iodine-scented bouquet that is much more extroverted than its peers (like the 2016 last year.) The palate is medium-bodied with sweet black cherry and boysenberry fruit, and plenty of crushed violet. The palate is ripe and succulent; a sweet core of blue and black fruit here although perhaps its neighbor across the road, Branaire Ducru, displays a little more terroir at this early stage. Maybe that is because of the saignée? I would just like to see a little more restraint come through in bottle while I noticed greater precision developing during the 30 minutes the sample spent in my glass. 2021 - 2040
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Beychevelle opens with gregarious cassis and blackberry pie notes with touches of baking spices and underbrush plus a waft of lavender. Medium-bodied with a great core of ripe black fruits, it has a firm frame of ripe, grainy tannins and balancing freshness, finishing long. The final blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 4 Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.
Deep crimson with purple rim. Tangy, slightly wild black fruit, more bramble than cassis. Smooth, rounded and rather gentle but still persistent. Supple tannins already, though they may be deceptive. (JH) Drink 2024-2036
Very fine tannins already with a solid core of blackberry and blueberry character. Hints of flowers. Full-bodied, well-integrated and tight, not to mention fresh and long.
The 2017 Beychevelle is absolutely gorgeous. Creamy and beautifully layered on the palate, Beychevelle exudes exotic richness in its ripe red/purplish berry fruit. Even though the 2017 is rather flamboyant in style, it retains quite a bit of brightness to play off its more extroverted leanings. Beychevelle was impressive on the several times I tasted it.
This is a fine expression of St-Julien, with extremely pretty aromatics and brambly, juicy black fruits that remain soft and persistent through the palate, with the tiniest hint of acidity tightening the tannins. It's not as expressive as in 2016, but that was exceptional, though this is certainly a wine to recommend in 2017. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
A super-fragrant Beychevelle with bright Merlot fruit very much in evidence. Lovely and pure and silky, with little aggression on the finish, this is already a very harmonious wine with buoyancy and charm. There is some spice and warmth on the finish, which gives some richness but all in all this is a forward and luscious wine.
Branaire has long been a favourite of mine, always understated but utterly true to its origins. Deeply aromatic with flavours of fresh blackcurrants, full of energy, this wine highlights the success of St Julien in 2017. A wine with great depth of fruit, supported by a lovely bite of natural freshness. The property’s characteristically grippy tannins on the finish give added complexity and length. Extremely good.
The 2017 Branaire Ducru was picked 13 September until 4 October over a three-week period, cropped at 39.6hl/ha. The alcohol here is 13.2°. The wine is aged in 60% new oak, which is how the sample was made. It has a harmonious bouquet with brambly black fruit, melted tar and tobacco scents, not powerful but precise. The palate is medium-bodied with a smooth texture, fine tannin, just a subtle savory note developing and merging nicely with the black fruit, hints of white pepper and cedar towards the poised finish that is quintessential Saint-Julien. There is an essence of drinkability about this Branaire-Ducru and I can imagine this being approachable after three to four years. This is a very fine Branaire-Ducru. 2021 - 2040
The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Branaire-Ducru gives up notes of baked black berries, red cherries and mulberries with touches of potpourri and smoked meats. Medium-bodied with a lively line lifting the good concentration of red and black fruits, it has a chewy frame and grippy finish.
Deep cherry red. Fragrant with pure, pretty cassis on the nose. Slightly leafy. But a little dilute on the palate. The tannins are light enough to give balance but it's pretty lightweight overall, hence the rather early drinking date. (JH) Drink 2022-2030
This is very tight and focused with a precise depth of blackberry and blueberry fruit. Full body, melted tannins and a fresh and vivid finish. Shows a compacted style.
The 2017 Branaire-Ducru offers lovely depth and density. The characteristic dark red/purplish fruit character of Brainaire comes through beautifully. As always, Branaire is a wine of polish and finesse. Stylistically, the 2017 comes across as a smaller scaled and more accessible version of the 2015. If that sounds appealing, well, it is. The 2017 is really quite lovely. Tasted three times.
A little tight, austere and hard to read. I tasted this on several occasions and each time it needed to be taken slowly, giving it time to unwind and to come out of its shell. There is a lovely richness to it that builds through the mid-palate, and the well expressed plum and blackberry fruit is soft. It's a balanced and elegant St-Julien, but just a touch underpowered. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
A rather closed and edgy Branaire with some green highlights adding bitterness and drama. The fruit is glossy and juicy and aside from the taut notes which make the mouth-water such is their attack - this is a successful wine. Will this bitterness subside? Yes, I have a feeling that the fruit will managed to rehydrate the palate perfectly. I would rarely bet against this Château.
Ch Brane-Cantenac is never the most obvious or flamboyant at the UGC tastings, often underselling itself when in cask. Its strength lies in its age-worthiness, invariably developing into a fine example of Margaux. The 2017 has an impressive balance between pure crystalline fruits, tightly integrated tannins and a lovely freshness. This bears the hallmarks of a great future Brane.
The 2017 Brane-Cantenac was picked from 14 September to 2 October at 31.2hl/ha after frost destroyed 35% of the vines in April. It is matured in 75% new oak and 25% one-year old and it has 13% alcohol. It has a tightly wound bouquet with broody black fruit, tar and a touch of graphite, very Pauillac in style as usual. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very linear and precise, not a deep Margaux and unashamedly classic in style with dry, slightly brusque tannin. The finish is dominated by tobacco and pencil lead notes with healthy pinch of pepper on the aftertaste. Classic Brane-Cantenac through and through. Tasted on three occasions. 2022 - 2040
Deep crimson. Complex aroma that pulls together black olive as well as sweet spice and cassis leaf and fruit. Creamy texture, nicely balanced, lightish and elegant with a juicy finish. (JH) Drink 2022-2032
Dark currant, berry and fresh herb character. Full-bodied, juicy and flavorful. Very structured. Solid finish and length. Better than 2014?
The 2017 Brane-Cantenac opens with a good burst of fruit, but then loses some intensity in its mid-palate and finish as the tannins clamp down on the fruit. In this tasting, the 2017 comes across as a bit slender. Some of that may be attributable to the relatively high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (74%) in the blend. Two thousand seventeen is also the first vintage to include Petit Verdot. All those details aside, the 2017 is an attractive Brane-Cantenac built on persistence.
A lovely wine that sits extremely prettily though the palate, with a seductive expression of florality and blackberry fruits. It's not as powerful as the past two years, but is skilfully worked with soft grilled oak notes. It doesn't sacrifice the excellent quality that this estate has been producing. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
Dark, deep, full-bodied and rather shocking, in this lighter-framed vintage, this is a spicy, oaky wine but the fruit can support it. This is impressive work from a Château that is starting to hit a vein of form.
Only 40% of the annual production went into the Grand Vin in 2017. The final blend focuses on the quality of its Cabernet fruit (76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc), with Merlot and Petit Verdot making up the final 15%. A very direct style both on the nose and on the palate, with striking cassis and blackcurrant flavours. This wine has an excellent kernel of mid-palate fruit. It is fresh and cool in style, with a fine, rewarding length.
The 2017 Calon-Ségur was cropped at 43.5hl/ha and underwent a 20-day cuvaison after which it is matured entirely in new oak for 20 months. It contains 13.2° alcohol. At the moment the aromatics convey the 100% new oak but there is sufficient fruit underneath. There is a palpable sense of “coolness” imbuing the aromatics and like other Saint-Estèphe barrel samples, it conveys a subtle estuary-like tincture. The palate is medium-bodied with saturated tannin, beautifully integrated new oak that lends this a silky texture. Perhaps this is the smoothest of all the 2017s I encountered within this appellation, a classy and sophisticated Calon-Ségur in the making and heightened by the thrilling tension towards the finish and the latent energy that lingers in the mouth. Excellent. 2024 - 2045
The 2017 Calon-Ségur is tentatively blended of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple in color, it opens with pronounced black currants, crushed blackberries and fresh black plums with hints of cigar box, sandalwood and cinnamon stick plus a waft of mossy bark. The palate is medium-bodied, elegant, energetic and fresh with layers of black fruit, perfumed incense and fragrant earth notions, lingering nicely with exotic spices coming through on the finish.
Inky core with black-cherry rim. Ripe, dark and with a fine mineral cast to the cassis fruit, which is ripe but not sweet. Paper-fine tannins in many layers. Great ageing potential but also accessible. Deceptively accessible, suggesting lack of ageing ability, but I don't think that is the case. Cool, fresh, serious, fine cassis fruit. The finesse comes from the lack of sweetness but there's no lack of fruit. Dry, firm and very St-Estèphe, with tannin structure. But the structure is filled molecule by molecule with the fruit. It's so finely balanced. There's more firmness than in Cos but there's still excellent harmony. Opens to a hint of violets. Super-moreish and juicy even with the structure of the terroir. (JH) Drink 2025-2040
This is very delicate on the attack but it grows on the palate with firm and silky tannins that turn lightly chewy. Builds consistently. Compacted and tight.
The 2017 Calon Ségur is a classy, polished wine. Conditions favored Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up 76% of the blend. Open-knit and supple, the 2017 is surprisingly open and harmonious in the early going. Hints of espresso, mocha, red cherry jam, cinnamon and dusk of new French oak add accents, but it is the wine's gentle personality that stands out most. In some vintages, Calon Ségur speaks loudly. In 2017, the Grand Vin is hushed and yet very expressive. The blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Tasted three times.
This is rich, with fresh blueberry and cassis notes. The fruit is on the elegant side, and this should be earlier to drink than the 2016 and even the 2014. Technical director Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen and the team took an interesting approach to building the mid-palate, increasing the persistency by re-integrating the press wine immediately after vinification, so having both free run and press wine together during maceration. Blending the press wine at such an early stage took a leap of faith, as did using so much of the young, nine-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon in the first blend. But it works - this is precise, balanced and appealing, building slowly over the palate. Yield of 43.5hl/ha, 40% of production into the grand vin. 3.7pH. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
The growing season started early with relatively dry conditions and temperatures which were above average – accordingly the harvest was two weeks early compared with the previous five vintages. Because of the proximity to the Gironde Estuary the vineyards were protected from the frosts at the end of April. In spite of some hot spells, the clay soils regulated moisture well. Everything was picked between 15th and 29th September. Very deep and sonorous on the nose there is a superb wave of cassis which greets the palate. This is a different take on Calon and it is a style of wine which I have never seen before at this property. It is shaped like the lovely 2008 in terms of refinement and size, but this wine has 15% ten-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, and this is the first time that this fruit has been used in the Grand Vin. It brings acidity and freshness and this lifts the wine and elevates the blackberry fruit beautifully. It will make 20-30 years even though it initially seems to be a more discreet and calm vintage.
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. A sister property to Roc de Cambes, with vines planted on the flat terraces below the slopes of the Côtes de Bourg, looking across the estuary to the appellation of Margaux. All three of François Mitjavile’s vineyards miraculously escaped the frost. There is considerable intensity and concentration in this wine for a modest unclassified Bordeaux, with lithe tannins and fresh, red-fruited length.
The 2017 Domaine des Cambes has a fresh, lifted, energetic bouquet that is very Left Bank in style thanks to the expressive Cabernet Franc. I love the definition and drive of these aromatics. The palate is medium-bodied with pretty red berry fruit interlaced with dried orange peel, marmalade and brown spices. There is energy infused into this wine from start to finish and I strongly suspect that it will drink supremely well once in bottle. 2020 - 2030
The 2017 Domaine de Cambes is medium to deep garnet-purple in color with very pretty notes of kirsch, warm plums and black raspberries with hints of roses, cinnamon stick and tobacco. The palate is medium to full-bodied, firm and chewy with plenty of juicy fruit and a long, savory finish.
This has an extraordinary perfume and the florality and exoticism are superb. With lovely flesh and masses of oak, this is the complete opposite to many of the hard, dry wines found in other properties. It is racy, rich, bright and crunchy, with the dryness tapping your taste buds as opposed to raking them. There are blueberry notes here with the black and red flavours and this is a truly delicious incarnation of this wine.
The south-westerly facing vines on the plateau of this great estate avoided the north-easterly winds that were the cause of so much damage in the appellation in 2017. We had the luxury of tasting from three separate casks as well as the final blended cuvée, and there is little doubt Ch Canon’s star continues to shine. Dense in colour, the open dark cherry fruit aromas lead into a palate of lovely purity. The beautiful fruit is enhanced by a silky tannic edge. A layered harmonious wine full of charm.
The 2017 Canon was picked 4 to 21 September and 22 to 27 September for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc at 42hl/ha and matured in 56% new oak. There is 14.0° alcohol this year and the pH comes in at 3.66. This takes a little time to open, eventually revealing blackberry, briary, crushed stone and light iris scents. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannins and good backbone. Strangely, it reminds me a little of modern-day Figeac, that Cabernet component smaller here but very expressive with touches of graphite and flint towards the linear but beguilingly fresh finish. I like the manner in which the limestone shines through the wine here, something noticeable in recent vintages. Whilst not the sensational 2015 or 2016, it is a damn fine Saint-Émilion that will settle at the top of my banded score. 2022 - 2045
The deep purple-black colored 2017 Canon offers-up intense notes of crushed blackberries, black cherries and warm cassis with touches of fertile loam, yeast extract, beef drippings and iron ore plus a waft of garrigue. Medium to full-bodied with great freshness and firm, rounded tannins, it's very earthy in the mouth, finishing long and mineral-laced. A very serious wine, it is also fun, bright and vivacious and should age impressively.
Deep crimson. Sweet dark plums and a touch of vanilla. Lovely pure black fruit that sings, if quietly for now. Silky and elegant. Refined and just slides over the palate to a very long finish. Subtle beauty. (JH) Drink 2022-2032
This is very focused and fresh with limestone and crushed-stone character. Medium to full body, integrated tannins and a salty finish. Shows lots of minerality already. Umami licorice undertones.
A rich, explosive wine, the 2017 Canon exudes class from the very first taste. Huge aromatics resonate through to the palate, where the wine is deep, fleshy and beautifully layered. Effortless and gracious, Canon is a wine of real pedigree. I don't think the 2017 will reach the dizzying heights of the 2015 or 2016, but it will be interesting to see how close it gets.
Lovely and relaxed on the nose, with oak and fruit in harmony, this is a good wine, but it is slightly spoilt by a green edge on the finish and overly austere tannins. I would like it to be so much more refreshing and silky but the attack of dryness and grainy tannins rather shuts it all down. Given the reputation of this Château I am confident that it will even out, but this will always be a wine with a bitter edge.
71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. This fresh, herbaceous example from Cantemerle shows off its high Cabernet weight in the blend. The tannins are fairly tenacious at this stage and will need time to mellow. But the cool dark fruit character and black tea aromatics promise a favourable evolution.
The 2017 Cantemerle has quite a sultry bouquet with blackberry, damp earth and tobacco scents that reluctantly unfurl in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin that frame quite voluminous black dusky fruit. There is a powdery texture to this Cantemerle, quite long on the finish even if it is missing the refinement of a top vintage. 2021 - 2032
The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Cantemerle gives up lovely crushed black and red currants notes with hints of kirsch, underbrush and cinnamon stick plus a waft of roses. Medium-bodied with plenty of freshness and a fine-grained frame, it is elegantly expressed and finishes with beautiful harmony.
Deep crimson. Sweet plum and vanilla on the nose. Like cherry ice cream. Balanced but without great depth. Tannins are well handled for the fruit weight – light and dry. (JH) Drink 2022-2027
This shows a polished yet encompassing structure of solid tannins, which support flavors of mulberries and black cherries. Medium-bodied, velvety with rather chewy. Long finish.
This is a very attractive wine that has been carefully extracted in this vintage. It has a damson fruit expression with real elegance and restrained power, followed by a dusting of cocoa powder and cinnamon (more evident on the second tasting). A little shorter than in 2016, but full of elegance and fine tannins. Drinking Window 2022 - 2038
The fruit on the nose and palate is delicious with both red and black highlights. It is a slightly lighter wine than I am used to from Cantemerle but this is not a problem because all of the flavours and elements are in harmony. The texture is silky and the finish is coarse and challenging, suggesting a medium-term life ahead. This is a good wine!
Ch Capbern is run by the team at St Estèphe cru classé, Ch Calon-Ségur, and offers excellent value for the calibre of winemaking. It was the first wine we tasted of the UGC week and set the tone for the vibrantly fruited, delicately aromatic, medium bodied wines we would enjoy all week. It has a leafy freshness to the fruity nose and a smooth, iodine character on the palate. Managing Director Laurent Duffau explained they offset the slight lack of structure in the Merlot this year with the high quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon. This showed a dextrous application of Bordeaux’s tradition of blending.
The 2017 Capbern was cropped at 43.5hl/ha and matured in 60% new oak. It has a fresh, lively cranberry and blackcurrant-scented bouquet, a little savory in style with hints of Japanese nori (seaweed). The palate is nicely structured with a keen thread of acidity. There is a little compactness on the entry but it gently unfolds towards the finish that exerts subtle grip. It is the precision rather than the power that defines this Capbern and if released at similar prices to previous vintages, could be one of the must-buys of 2017. 2021 - 2032
The tentative blend for the 2017 Capbern is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives exuberant red cherries, blackberries and black raspberries on the nose with touches of bay leaves and dusty soil. The palate is medium-bodied, elegant and fresh with chewy tannins and an earthy finish.
Deep crimson with purple rim. Fresh and delicious bramble and cassis fruit. Firm, finely grained, super-fresh. Slightly chewy but with plenty of dark fruit in the middle. Full but balanced. (JH) Drink 2023-2030
Dark berries and crushed stones. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a fresh finish. Tightness.
The 2017 Capbern is soft, pliant and inviting. This pretty, gracious Saint-Estèphe has plenty to offer, especially over the near and medium term. Floral notes give lift to the bright red cherry fruit. Soft contours and mid-weight structure add to the wine's immediacy. Tasted two times.
The Merlots and Cabernet Francs suffered a little from the rains of September, but the early season and lack of frost damage helped overcome this, with a normal yield of 43.5hl/ha. Capbern has an ample mid-palate with savoury but fleshy blueberry and blackberry fruits, and mint-edged charcoal - it's well put together. 3% Petit Verdot makes up the blend given here. Ageing for 18 months in 60% new oak. 3.8pH. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Calon Ségur winemaker Vincent Millet explained that the IPT is the same as 2015 but lower than 2016. There were no problems with frost in Saint-Estèphe so the yields were perfect (43.5 hl/ha). The low level of alcohol is the same across the family of Calon wines which is amazing, too. The fruit is smooth and very clean and forward with classic Saint-Estèphe hallmarks of earthiness balanced with juiciness. This is a lovely wine.
Carmes Haut Brion’s walled vineyard is an extraordinary sun trap, enjoying temperatures some 2 degrees warmer than its illustrious neighbour Haut-Brion. The result is a wine uniquely high in Cabernet Franc for the Graves (40%) and one of stunning juicy succulence. It stood out from the crowd with aromas of plums and ripe figs thanks to its proportion of whole-bunch fruit in the fermentation. The fruit coats the palate and, unusual as it is, this is a superb wine in its own right.
The 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion includes 10% more Cabernet Sauvignon than last year with 45% whole bunch fruit. There is 13.2° alcohol. It is aged in 60% new oak (less than previous years), 30% one-year old oak and 10% amphora that have been baked at 1,200° Celsius instead of 500° Celsius that means there is less oxygen ingress. It has a very pure and strangely, almost Burgundy-like bouquet, perhaps somewhere towards the mid-Côte de Nuits. Dark cherries, wild strawberry, a hint of orange sorbet and later a touch of glycerol. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin and plenty of sappy, black fruit sprinkled with white pepper and bay leaf. As Guillaume Pouthier mentioned in conversation, there is a linearity to this Les Carmes Haut-Brion and one has to admire the precision and focus on the finish. Afford this five or six years in bottle before approaching and you will have a very delicious and distinctive Pessac-Léognan on your hands. 2022 - 2040
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a little reticent to begin, opening up to fragrant notes of potpourri and oolong tea over a core of crushed red and black currants plus hints of violets, dark chocolate and cinnamon stick. Medium-bodied, it has an ambitious palate with firm, grainy tannins slightly masking the elegant fruit, finishing with good length though just a tad chewy.
A tight and linear red with a firm and intense, pretty center palate of blackberry and wet-earth character. Full-bodied, reserved and focused. Really compacted.
The 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is subtle and understated, but it’s all there. Lifted aromatics, bright, red-toned fruit and silky tannins add to the wine's brilliant, chiseled personality. I find the 2017 more precise and nuanced than in the recent past, with less overt power. It's hard to know exactly if the style of the 2017 is a result of the growing conditions of the year, or the result of an evolution in winemaking that includes the introduction of terra cotta, among other things. I certainly get the sense Guillaume Pouthier reined the wine back a bit in 2017. No matter. The end result is all that counts, and in 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is positively stellar. As always, the high percentage of Cabernet Franc and a healthy dollop of whole clusters give Les Carmes an explosive bouquet and plenty of saline-infused energy. A closing flourish of sweet red berry fruit, mint, rose petal and mocha leaves a lasting impression. The 2017 is not an obvious wine, but it sure is gorgeous. Don't miss it! Tasted two times.
Very powerful, focussed and mineral, this is a structured wine with serious presence and poise. There is a lot of oak on the nose but this doesn’t detract from the fruit which is more than capable of handling it. There are some beautiful flavours here and they are delivered over a very long palate. Impressive.
Carruades usually sits at the top of the second wine category, and the 2017 is impressive. There is a sweet ripeness to the fruit, which retains a fresh profile. The silky texture of the tannins is well integrated and balanced by the mineral freshness. With 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc in the blend to support the 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, Lafite’s second wine has a softer, more accessible character than the imperial grand vin.
The 2017 Carruades de Lafite has a fine, quite pure bouquet, perhaps showing a little more fruit concentration than the Duhart-Milon at this stage. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit, oyster shell and a touch of black pepper. There is not an enormous depth to this wine, after all it is a deuxième vin, but I appreciate the precision and the brightness towards the finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2019 - 2030
The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Carruades de Lafite is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc and opens with expressive notes of espresso and dark chocolate over a core of cassis, wood smoke and tilled soil plus touches of truffles and black olives. Medium-bodied, very fine-grained and refreshing, it has great poise and a long, savory finish.
Deep crimson. More lifted and fragrant than the Duhart-Milon just tasted. Dark-red fruit and graphite freshness. Richer and sweeter fruited on the mid palate than the Duhart, a little more generous. Very soft texture but not lacking backgrounded structure. Elegant, and an attractive minerally, dark-fruited finish. Subtle. Understated. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
A bright Carruades with cedar and tobacco character. Medium to full body and medium chewy tannins. Very pretty center palate.
The 2017 Carruades de Lafite is quite deep and fleshy at the outset. Black cherry, plum, lavender and rose petal are pushed forward in this dark, racy second wine from Lafite-Rothschild. Deep, textured and beautifully resonant, the 2017 has a lot to recommend it. This is a strong showing. In 2017, Carruades is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Like many of his colleagues, Technical Director Eric Kolher opted for gentle extractions and incorporated a relatively high amount of press wine (14%) into the blend. In 2017, the Carruades is a gorgeous second wine.
Lafite got to enjoy a year without excess and without frost, and this is elegant stuff. The tannins are a touch rigid at the beginning, supporting firm black autumnal fruits, classically framed and a touch austere, with cigar box smoke adding a swirl of complexity. As with many of the second wines in Pauillac this year, this is excellently put together but on the savoury side, reflecting the story of the vintage. 20% new oak. This is sure to age well and be ready to drink within four to eight years. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
Rather more elegant and with masses more finesse than Duhart, this is a finely balanced wine with a very long, calm, refreshing finish and an enviable hauteur. Oak marks the aroma, but not in an aggressive way and this is balanced neatly by firm yet ripe fruit. Smooth and even and in no way forced or pushy, this is a very relaxed Carruades and it shows a degree of class.
70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Franc from this tiny 5.5 hectare estate. This was a little backward when tasted, but showed floral potential on the nose and some high quality fruit on the palate. Edouard Moueix likens the 2017 Pomerols to 1988s. They are tight in their youth and will need some more time to broaden out in barrel.
The 2017 Certan de May continues a run of wines that have left me scratching my head because experience of older vintages prove the heights it can achieve. Yet, recent vintages have fallen short of expectations. This feels a little green, especially when compared to the Latour-à-Pomerol and Hosanna on either side of my tasting at J-P Moueix. The palate is thankfully better with fine tannin, a keen line of acidity, tertiary in style with a touch of charcoal and tar towards the finish. If the aromatics had a little more, for want of a better word, “oomph”, then I might be more generous in my evaluation. Hopefully it will meliorate in barrel. Let’s see. 2022 - 2032
A final blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Certan de May is scented of bay leaves, crushed blackcurrants and blackberries with black pepper and tilled earth nuances. The medium to full-bodied mouth is firm and chewy with tightly knit fruit and an herb-laced finish.
Deep smudgy crimson. Gorgeous dusty graphite nose and pure cassis fruit. Smells refined even before you taste it. But then unexpected oak sweetness on the palate, tannins are sufficient but moderate. Dies a little on the finish, so that the oak dominates for now. The palate was a bit disappointing after the promising aromas. (JH) Drink 2023-2030
This is very serious for the vintage with a full body, very polished tannins and a long finish. Well done.
The 2017 Certan de May is bold and pungent in its first impression. Racy floral and savory notes from the Cabernet Franc are front and center. Certan de May doesn't quite have the early appeal of many wines in the Moueix stable, and the tannins need time to soften, but there is a sense of energy and tension to the 2017 that is compelling. Tasted two times.
There is a lovely decadence to the nose here and the vibrancy of the palate is superb. Active and energetic this is a ripe wine but it has retained a suave, refreshing edge to it which elevates the fruit on the nose and also underpins it and also lengthens it on the palate. Impressive, but youthful, this is a wine to watch.
Only the second wines from the very best terroirs have impressed in 2017 and this stunning La Chapelle is a beautiful example. The bramble fruits of the Grand Vin come through in this effortless wine. Easy and charming, this finishes with sweetness and distinction. Gorgeous.
The 2017 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion was picked from 4 to 29 September and matured in 18% new oak. It has a slightly subdued bouquet at first, tarry black fruit, a little gravel with more red fruit emerging with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, crisp black fruit, touches of graphite with a linear, pencil-lead finish that contains fine precision, especially for a deuxième vin. 2020 - 2030
The 2017 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion is a blend of 49.2% Merlot, 41.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.9% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple colored, it opens with spice-laced notions of warm plums, mulberries and cassis with touches of tree bark, cloves, pencil lead and yeast extract. Medium to full-bodied, it has a firm frame of chewy tannins and refreshing acid supporting the spicy black and red fruits, finishing a little grippy.
Deepest healthy crimson. Very fine graphite nose over scented – violets? – black fruit. Super-creamy richness, moderate intensity but real precision. Bright, juicy and with great purity of fruit, lingering and full-fruited finish with moderated tannins. Mouth-watering freshness. (JH) Drink 2022-2032
Quite tannic but in a very attractive way with blueberries, currants and spices. Medium-bodied, tight and chewy. Show tension and texture.
The 2017 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is wonderfully lifted and gracious, with bright red stone fruit and floral notes that dominate this year. In 2017, the Chappelle is decidedly gracious and light on its feet, with a construction that favors persistence over weight.
Very clean and very pure this is a fresh and forward La Chapelle and it is bright and very tender with only the merest touch of acidity and tannin. I know that there is a core of energy here which will keep this wine alive for some time but, on the exterior, all is calm and refreshing. It is an ‘aperitif’ La Chapelle, such is its freshness and bounce.
Another wine from Durantou, and like Les Cruzelles, a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. It has lovely structure and generous, juicy fruit from the high proportion of Merlot. The tannins are a little gritty, and this ever well-priced Lalande de Pomerol has admirable length.
The 2017 La Chenade comes from gravel soils in Lalande de Pomerol, picked 8 to 22 September for the Merlot and on 18 September for the Cabernet Franc, that is aged in used oak. It has a tightly wound bouquet, a little more black fruit than red, just a touch of black truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, a pinch of black pepper and spice, a little short but nicely balanced with a pretty, earthy finish. It is not the greatest La Chenade that I have tasted in recent years, yet given the frost damage it should be considered a success. 2020 - 2028
Composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 La Chenade is medium to deep garnet-purple in color and has quite an earthy nose giving notes of truffles, mossy bark and tilled soil over a core of red and black plums and a waft of incense. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with refreshing red and black fruits supported by chewy tannins and finishes with an invigorating lift.
Deep purple crimson. Smells of small, wild hedgerow berries and raspberry vitality. Second-fill barrels and just a hint of chocolate. Lovely freshness and that fine graphite note on the finish. Refined texture, just a little chewy for now, and lots of fruit and a persistent finish. (JH) Drink 2020-2028
A firm and silky wine with berry and cherry character. Medium body, light tannins and a clean finish.
There is more tension in this wine than in the Saintayme and this comes from a slightly sour edge to the fruit which heightens the senses at the same time as bringing a different tone to the aromatics and also a length to the finish. Fresh and bright, this is a crunchy, lifted wine and I imagine it will always be tangy and crunchy on the finish.
The pockets of clay soil in slight depressions across the estate were most vulnerable to frost, and they did lose some yield in April (around 30%). Undeterred, the team at Ch Cheval Blanc undertook a long and resolute picking schedule, starting on 6th September and finishing on 10th October. Through dogged determination in the vineyard a high proportion of the property’s fruit makes it into the Grand Vin (over 80%). It is a blend of 56% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon. This final component, higher than usual, is from vines just five years old. Contrary to received wisdom that only old vines are capable of high quality, Cheval Blanc’s technical director, Pierre-Olivier Clouet, explained that with low vigour, good rootstocks and attentive viticulture, young vines are hugely capable of high quality and expressing terroir. There is a perfumed, leafy quality to the Cabernet Sauvignon intermingled with the violet scent of the Cabernet Franc and the plummy volume of the Merlot. The wine has such energy, a touch of bitter tension, and aromatic precision.
The 2017 Cheval Blanc comes from 97% first generation grapes and 3% second generation from two-thirds of the vineyard, using a sorting table to select the ripest berries that were matured separately in small vats. The rejected second generation were sold off in bulk and not blended into the deuxième vin. There is a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and comparatively lower percentage of Cabernet Franc due to the frost damage. So this is a more Left Bank Cheval Blanc using more the gravel soils than clay since the latter are colder. It has a tightly wound, almost Saint Estèphe-inspired bouquet, with fresh blackberry, cedar, wet clay and light iris-like aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, masculine in style, less corpulent than the 2015 or 2016, stricter and more linear, a “cool” Cheval Blanc that eschews the florality of previous vintages with a saline, marine-tinged finish. This is a cerebral Cheval Blanc, not the greatest in recent years, but one of the most interesting to sit and think about (and then drink of course!) 2024 - 2042
The 2017 Cheval Blanc is composed of 56% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon—an unusually high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon for this wine. Deep garnet-purple colored, it opens slowly to reveal a gorgeous lilacs, roses, licorice and black truffles nose over a compelling core of cassis, warm plums, wild blueberries and cigar box plus a waft of wood smoke. Medium to full-bodied, firm and earthy in character on the palate, it packs in tightly wound fruits and mineral accents, culminating in a long, perfumed finish. 50,000 bottles are to be produced.
Tangy and fresh on the palate. Relatively delicate on the nose. Fine, scented graphite and herbaceous nose, classic Cheval. Deep cherry red. Super-fresh and very fine texture. Paper-fine tannins. Perfect balance between the fruit and the framework. Smaller berries with higher tannins, apparently. Succulent, tender, fresh. Moreish and mouth-watering. Melts in the mouth and persists. (JH) Drink 2027-2042
This is tight and very tannic with a linear and steely backbone of texture. Full-bodied, compacted and complete. Muscular and flexing it but polished and toned. Wow. There is 6% cabernet sauvignon in the blend, which may be giving this even more strength. Very, very long. Very Left Bank in terms of the power and depth.
The 2017 Cheval Blanc bristles with tension. Because of severe frost damage, in 2017, the Grand Vin includes a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (14%), from gravelly soils, which gives the wine very unusual flavor and structure profile. Vibrant and pulsing with a real sense of direction, the 2017 is going to need a number of years to be at its very best. Even so, it is an utterly fascinating wine. The blend is 56% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, aging in 100% new oak.
There is a much more serious nose here than on the Petit Cheval with a lot more of the mid-palate richness which was missing on the second wine. The nose is rather deeper and the oak is prevalent but this is a much more discreet wine than expected. The fruit is smooth and rather spicy with some green notes and the tannins are dry but not astringent, this is a quiet Cheval Blanc and one which will be slow to evolve and always more discreet on the palate than the more bombastic wines.
The Bernard family have nailed the 2017 vintage. Despite the vulnerability of their vineyards to spring frost they were protected by the neighbouring woodlands. Their vines have produced a wine rich in dark fruit, with a restrained elegance. The mid-palate has ample structure and excellent freshness, and the wine’s appealing grainy tannins give an added layer of complexity on the finish. Top quality.
The 2017 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge was cropped at 34hl/ha between 11 and 29 September and is matured in 35% new oak for 18 months. It has a vivacious bouquet with quite generous black fruit, raspberry, brine and black olive that is well-defined and focused, if not possessing the complexity of the previous two vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly edgy tannin – layers of black fruit interlaced with melted tar and graphite, closing in a little towards the finish with a gentle grip. I appreciate the deft manner in which this fans out and leaves a mineral residue on the finish. A Domaine de Chevalier of refinement rather than power, one with “buvabilité” or “drinkability”. 2021 - 2045
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2017 Domaine de Chevalier opens with a cedary waft giving way to a good core of crushed black currants, blackberries and mulberries with suggestions of black truffles, tilled soil and black olives plus a hint of smoked meats. Medium-bodied with a good, solid frame of ripe, fine-grained tannins and oodles of freshness, it is elegantly fruited yet well sustained on the mid-palate and long finish.
Deep crimson. A little leafy, fragrant in a herbaceous style. Firm and chewy. Tongue-tied at the moment but there's finesse in the dark, dusty fruit and tender graphite notes. Smooth and polished yet compact tannins. Savoury, dry, subtle aftertaste. (JH) Drink 2024-2037
This is really delicious and round with soft and ripe tannins. Full body and juicy fruit. Shows ripeness and balance. A pretty wine to watch for the future.
The 2017 Domaine de Chevalier is rather dense and powerful, but it is also not quite put together. Specifically, the focus and delineation that are such signatures of this wine are not present today. There is something about the wine's balance that is just not right. The coarse tannins and disjointed feel suggest fruit that may have been shocked during the April frost. Tasted three times.
There is a touch of greenness on the nose which remains a faint annoyance on the palate, but apart from that the fruit is succulent and smooth and there is enough juiciness to romance the taste buds. The oak is a little incongruous at the moment, but this will mellow.
55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.3% Cabernet Franc, 1.7% Petit Verdot. This 2017 second wine is smoky, mineral and restrained, much like its Grand Vin. Fine grained tannins are bound up with brambly dark fruits and a plummy length from its high proportion of Merlot.
The 2017 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion was picked from 31 August to 29 September, matured in 22% new oak. There is a little richness on the nose compared to the La Chapelle de la Mission, a touch more volume. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, crisp acidity, lively and tensile with a precise and quite sustained and supple, almost pastille-like finish. 2021 - 2030
Deep cherry red. Smells sweeter and darker-fruited than the Chapelle de la Mission just tasted. Gentle dark fruit and light spice. Subtle but fruity on the nose. Firmer and more graphite-scented on the palate but with impressive fruit depth and generosity within a dry, fine-boned tannic structure. Fresh but not strident. Finely balanced and lovely persistence. (JH) 13.8% Drink 2024-2033
A fresh and bright red with currant, walnut and wet-earth character. Medium to full body, tight tannins and a fresh finish. Second wine of Haut-Brion is focused.
The 2017 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is laced with expressive dark red cherry, plum, rose petal and lavender. Pliant and inviting, yet also light on its feet, the Clarence captures all the freshness that is typical of the wines of this sector of Bordeaux in 2017. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. In many vintages, Le Clarence can offer a very good representation of the estate, but in 2017, the wine is a touch simple and lacking in structure relative to some recent editions. The blend is 55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5,3% Cabernet Franc and 1,7% Petit Verdot.
The nose on Le Clarence is more exotic and more dense and floral than La Chapelle and it shows a darker and more layered outlook, but it is no heavier nor more powerful. There is a spice and plummy sweetness in the core which is very attractive and this is joined by a refreshing finish and super-bright tannins. More serious and more concentrated to the outsider, but still a crunchy and energetic wine. I love the counterpoints between the colour, intensity and weightlessness.
The Vauthier family, owners of Ch Ausone, have recently added this estate to their collection. Hugely impressive at the first tasting. A darkly opaque wine with the perfume of violets and cranberries. In the palate this is elegant, with velvet-like tannins and gentle freshness. A deliciously poised wine with a drive of energetic freshness on the finish.
The 2017 La Clotte, which the Vauthiers acquired in 2014, was cropped at 32hl/ha between 28 September and 2 October. It is matured in 100% new oak. Pauline Vauthiers ventured that this was one of her favourite wines in this vintage and I am inclined to agree. This has a lifted, more perfumed bouquet than the Moulin Saint-Georges at this point, quite perfumed with crushed iris aromas infusing the black fruit. Returning after 20 minutes there is just a touch of orange blossom. The palate is sweet and opulent with caressing tannin, almost Burgundy-like in fruit purity with crushed strawberry, cassis and blueberry towards the silky smooth finish. What a delicious Saint-Émilion in the making.
Composed of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2017 La Clotte has quite an earthy nose with scents of black loam, truffles and mossy bark over a core of red and black plums with suggestions of tar and bay leaves. The palate is medium-bodied with bright fruit and a rock-solid frame of firm, grainy tannins plus the freshness kicks-in on the long finish. A wonderfully energetic wine!
Inky purple crimson. Quite charry on the nose and the oak shows on the palate, though the fruit is sweet and the finish is surprisingly fresh. Sweet/sour on the finish. But lots of fruit to outlast the oak. (JH) Drink 2024-2030
This is very pure and beautiful for the vintage with dark-berry and currant aromas. Violets, too. Medium to full body, ultra-fine tannins and a clean finish. From the owners of Ausone.
There was no frost damage here. The nose is full and ripe and it is very welcoming on this wine. With a softer feel and a more generous breadth of aroma it draws you into the wine. The palate is equally round and pliable with a softer tone throughout and some superb mineral notes, too. This is balanced by refreshing acidity and dusty tannins which don’t encroach on the juiciness. This is a lovely wine, and for a second year, it is a stylish addition (in 2014) to this portfolio.
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenère. This fifth growth from the Mouton stable of Baron Philippe de Rothschild has superb terroir. It neighbours both Mouton and Lafite Rothschild, and has a high proportion of old vines including the now rare Bordeaux variety of Carmenère. It is smooth and delicious, and has the scent of blackberries with a delicate note of wild herbs and pencil shavings. There is a melting quality to the palate, with silky tannins. It is perfectly weighted.
The 2017 Clerc Milon was picked from 13 to 29 September and matured in 50% new oak (which was represented in the blend tasted.) It has a more closed, backward bouquet compared to the sample of d’Armailhac. It actually reminds me of that other “Milon”, Duhart-Milon in style. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, a fine bead of acidity, quite austere and conservative with a precise, pencil-lead, Valrhona chocolate and smoke infused finish that just pulls up a little short at the moment. Tasted three times with consistent notes. 2020 - 2035
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carménère, the 2017 Clerc Milon is deep garnet-purple in color and scented of crushed red and black currants, wild blueberries and black pepper with touches of cigar box, violets, underbrush and menthol. Medium-bodied and with a very firm structure of wonderfully ripe, pixelated tannins and exhilarating freshness, it finishes long with notes of pebbles and floral perfume.
Lovely fragrance of small dark berries. A light herbaceous note lifting it out of the glass. Smooth, polished though not particularly deep or long. Fresh and singing from the glass in a lighter and delicious style. (JH) Drink 2024-2037
Tight and compacted with chewy tannins and showing hot-stone, blackberry and blueberry character. Full body and a driven finish.
The 2017 Clerc Milon is painfully backward and austere. In a vintage in which so many wines are forward and fruity, Clerc Milon is the exact opposite. There is not much pleasure or immediacy here, that much is evident. Inky dark fruit, chocolate, leather and licorice add to the wine's dark personality. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenère, aged in 50% new oak.
It's immediately obvious from both colour and first nose that this has a wonderful richness to it, offering powerful cherry pit, graphite and dark chocolate notes but without being overly sweet. A serious wine that is delivering on its potential, vintage after vintage. The Cab Franc vines are on limestone and clay here, and reached perfect ripeness. Overall there is a higher percentage of both Cabernets than usual in the blend. 9% press wine. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
There is more opulence on the nose here than found on d’Armailhac and this carries onto the palate, too, with more exotic fruit notes and some spice and coffee tones here, too. This is a lovely and ever so slightly flamboyant wine, given its size, and I like the fruit and also the length.
Clos du Marquis is owned by Domaines Delon of Ch Léoville Las Cases, and the vineyard is surrounded by the triplet of Léovilles: Las Cases, Poyferré, and Barton. This 2017 has a shy nose at first, but begins to open up with aromas of blackcurrants, cherries, and liquorice. Its St Julien style is distinguished by its cool Cabernet qualities and refined tannins, with a medium weight and an understated but lengthy finish.
The 2017 Clos du Marquis was cropped at 37hl/ha between 15 September and 4 October during an overall 15 days of actual picking. It is matured in 55% new oak and includes 6.2% vin de presse from 25 different lots. It has a more backward, tightly wound bouquet than I was expecting but it opens up with time. And wow, give it 10 minutes and that estuarine saline scent feels quite pungent. There is impressive density imbued into this Clos du Marquis, if not the detail, the precision of last year’s wine. There is plenty of “rondeur” towards the finish with a pleasant saltiness flanked by a hint of salted liquorice on the finish. 2022 - 2036
Medium to deep garnet-purple colored and composed of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Clos du Marquis gives up gorgeous notions of crushed plums, blackberries and cassis with hints of chocolate box, pencil lead, menthol and lavender. The palate is medium-bodied, very finely crafted and refreshing with firm yet fine-grained tannins, great intensity and a long, mineral-laced finish.
Deepest crimson with black core. Gorgeous dark fruit, with savoury/graphite as counterpoint to the cassis. A hint of oak char but at the right level for harmony at this point. Benchmark Cabernet flavours, pure and refined and fresh. Very precise fruit, long. Firm but dry. Smooth, deep texture and excellent freshness. (JH) Drink 2025-2035
Firm and silky wine with very pretty dark-berry and cherry character with currant undertones. Pure quality of fruit is serious. Very salty on the finish. Bright acidity, too.
The 2017 Clos du Marquis is fresh, lifted and wonderfully energetic, and yet also has quite a bit of textural depth. The flavors really sizzle in this highly expressive Saint-Julien from Hubert Delon. There is a sense of energy and tension to the 2017 that is impossible to miss. Much of that is attributable to the Cabernet Sauvignon that is the core of the wine this year. Floral notes reappear on the finish, adding lift to the creamy, layered finish. I can’t wait to taste it from bottle.
This takes its time, has a fairly hefty structure and unfurls at its own pace. The last day of harvest was 4 October, but the overall growth cycle was early so they were able to wait for full ripeness, and even though the fruit flavours are savoury, they are intense. It certainly has some bounce and energy, and the balance is there too. An enjoyable wine that should be ready to drink within four to six years, but the low pH and good freshness suggest it should also age well. 55% new oak barrels. 80% of production, with the rest going into the second wine. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Much more classic and predictable, this is a benchmark Clos du Marquis and yet it will not be a long-lived vintage. More pliable, refreshing and easy-going and it develops a Cabernet theme alongside the Saint-Julien theme beautifully. Balanced in every way and this is because the grapes became physiologically ripe at exactly the same time as they became flavour-ripe!
Unlike their neighbours at Ch Canon, Clos Fourtet’s vineyards are north facing, and were hit by the frost, touching 30%. Only the first generation fruit was used in the Grand Vin, which is a blend of 86% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. This is a very intense wine, full of dark summer berry fruits. Rich and juicy, this has a central tannic drive, and is firm and concentrated.
The 2017 Clos Fourtet has a powerful, almost burly bouquet with upfront, quite bold blackberry, raspberry and strawberry fruit that maybe miss the precision of some of the appellation’s more elegant offerings. There is just a touch of cassis and violet that emerges with continued aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, more rounded in texture than its peers. There is impressive volume towards the finish that is uncommon in this vintage, but you have to just stand back and admire its persistence. 2023 - 2045
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Clos Fourtet is scented of crème de cassis, blueberry compote and plum preserves with touches of hoisin, truffles and dark chocolate plus a waft of anise. Medium to full-bodied, the generous fruit is plushly textured with great freshness, finishing long and spicy.
Black core with purple rim. Sweet and a little charry on the nose. A little less fruit on the palate than I expected from the aroma. Tannins are chalky but hold a firm grip and this needs time. But there's fruit at the core. (JH) Drink 2024-2030
A very sexy young wine with a solid center palate and refined, integrated tannins. Medium body. Everything is in the right place.
The 2017 Clos Fourtet is very good, but also very tightly wound. Powerful and tannic, the 2017 is likely to require many years to come in its own. Today, the 2017 is certainly less charming than some recent vintages and other 2017 Saint-Émilions. There is certainly no lack of depth or concentration. The dark red/purplish berry fruit, rose petal and lavender flavors are very nicely delineated. Clos Fourtet is one of the wines that improved over the two weeks I followed it. I won't be surprised if it is even better from bottle.
A very aromatic and oaky wine, with a large volume of fruit, too, this is a slightly angular and tense creation but it is certainly on the right track. The overall feel is of a dark and powerful wine and this doesn’t quite fit with the ‘shape’ of the vintage, but there is some compromise here and this is a decent effort.
This wine is a showstopper. Marielle Cazaux continues her success at this estate, which has confirmed its reputation as a star of the Right Bank with a string of excellent recent vintages. This blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc has a heightened aromatic drama, with hints of eucalyptus, mint and bursting red berries. Gentle extraction has yielded sinuous tannins and graceful length. Its perfumed elegance sets it apart from its peers. Standing ovation.
The 2017 La Conseillante contains a little less Cabernet Franc than usual because four or five rows were damaged by frost. It has a classic Pomerol bouquet with touches of truffle and incense infusing the broody black fruit that take a few minutes to unwind in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, well balanced with a subtle sprinkling of white pepper and fennel. The Cabernet Franc, despite its diminished contribution, is quite expressive towards the balsamic-tinged finish that shows plenty of energy and decent persistence. It is less powerful than the 2016 at this stage but it is clearly a very well crafted, almost sensual Pomerol by winemaker Marielle Cazaux. Tasted twice with consistent notes, this may well settle at the top of my banded score once in bottle. 2022 - 2045
The 2017 La Conseillante displays a deep garnet-purple color and simply sings of crushed blueberries, mulberries and ripe plums with suggestions of violets, chocolate box, rose hip tea and a waft of menthol. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive richness at this elegant weight coupled with vivacity and supported by plush, velvety tannins, finishing with great length and energy. This is an arrestingly beautiful expression of this vintage!
Tight and precise with focused tannins and a lovely texture to this young wine. Medium to full body. Compressed and serious. Some salty and dark fruit at the end.
The 2017 La Conseillante is a wine of total finesse and class. Bright, floral and beautifully lifted, the 2017 is exceptionally polished and nuanced from start to finish. Despite its mid-weight, gracious personality, the 2017 has real staying power. Technical Director Marielle Cazaux gave the fruit about 2 days on the skins, with no SO2 at crush. Cazaux added that the malos were quite fast. The blend is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Frost reduced production by around 15%, while drought further reduced yields in the Franc by a further 10%. As for the wine, well, the 2017 was magnificent on each of the three occasions I tasted it.
Organically certified from this vintage. Winemaker Marielle Cazaux was elated about her 2017. The temperatures dropped to -2C and so they rented a helicopter (which hovered at a height of 30m) and this took the temperatures back up to 0C. On the Cheval Blanc side, the temperature dropped to -3.5C and they lost 15% of fruit which was destined for Duo. A very early vintage, with veraison happening at the end of July. They started picking on 5th September and so Marielle had to cut her holiday short! They stopped for rain and then finished everything on 29th September. The Cabernet Franc berries were very small, very spicy and of great quality. Pure, complex and totally refreshing, this is a stunningly energetic La Conseillante with lovely definition and class. This is all about length rather than depth and while it is forward and clear, it will hold well on account of the stunning acidity. This is a completely different wine to the 2015 and 2016 and it is very worthy of its place in this fabulous trio of vintages.
A slightly reserved Croix de Beaucaillou at the time of tasting, nevertheless dense in colour and rich in dark berry fruits. At this early stage the tannins appear to control the fruit, but with time in cask this has the potential to evolve and produce the seamless quality one expects from Bruno Borie and his team.
The 2017 La Croix de Beaucaillou sees 60% new oak for 12 months, with a fairly high IPT of 75. It has a ripe and generous bouquet of blackberry, fresh fig, cedar and crushed violets that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a fine bead of acidity, that structure making its presence felt towards the finish that exerts an insistent grip. As such, this will probably require three or four years in bottle just to soften the edges. 2021 - 2035
This is not a second wine per se, as it consistently comes from a separate vineyard in Saint-Julien. The blend is usually around 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, but this year it has a high percentage of Merlot: 58%, with 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 La Croix de Beaucaillou has quite a spicy nose sporting cloves, anise, black pepper and fenugreek with a core of crushed blackberries and black currants plus wafts of underbrush and potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied with firm, grainy tannins and great freshness supporting the vivacious fruit, finishing long and earthy.
Deep crimson. Again that scented cherry fruit that I tasted in Lalande Borie with just a hint of char. Savoury as well as sweet-fruited – definite red fruit on the silky mid palate. Firmer on the finish but lots of fruit in the middle and a long, juicy, fresh finish. Fine tannins and just a hint of chocolate-sweet tannins on the finish. (JH)
This is very fresh and minerally with a salty and oyster shell character. Full body, tight and bright. Plenty of currant flavors too.
The 2017 La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou is loaded with dark stone fruit, grilled herb, lavender and torrefaction notes. Powerful and dense, with serious richness, La Croix is anything but an easygoing second wine. In 2017 La Croix is built on a core of Merlot rather than Cabernet, which likely accounts for the wine's rich mid-palate and fleshy feel. The blend is 58% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot.
The Merlot here is grown on sandy-gravel soils and brings both freshness and structure. There's good balance, plush autumnal berry fruits and lovely spice, supported by well placed, delicate tannins. It's a clear Médoc twist on the varietal, even though this is a little lusher and more approachable than in recent years where Cabernet Sauvignon has been higher in the blend - last year it was at 66%, but vintage conditions in 2017 affected some of the crop. It's a little different in expression from 2016, but is an extremely high quality, great drinking wine. 3.74pH. IPT 75. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
This is a sexy, juicy Croix with a rather flamboyant nose and touches of exoticism. It really works in this vintage and rather than trying to maintain a Cabernet dominance, the Merlot looked good enough to carry the wine on its own.
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. This is always a good bet from the Denis Durantou cellar. Flamboyant, giving and charming, full of fleshy summer fruits. The tannins are soft and gentle and a light fresh touch of acidity at the end provides added appeal.
The 2017 Lés Cruzelles comes from clay soils, the Merlot picked from 13 to 22 September, the Cabernet Franc on 22 September, matured in 40% new oak. I found that this has a little more cohesion and focus than the La Chenade at this early stage, blackberry mixed with raspberry and loamy scents, fresh and full of vim. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin. This is very nicely focused with crisp acidity, saline and persistent on the finish. Excellent – this is as good a Lalande de Pomerol as you will find in 2017. 2021 - 2035
Blended of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Les Cruzelles opens with crushed blackcurrants and blackberry compote notions with underlying menthol, pencil lead, anise and tobacco notes plus a waft of black pepper. Medium-bodied and quite minerally in the mouth, it has a firm frame of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing with persistent earthy nuances.
Very dark core, almost black. Definite sweetness of oak on the nose but also dark and savoury, lightly charry note. Juicy and very fresh on the palate, more scented on the palate and the tannins more supple than on La Chenade at the moment. Juicy, fresh finish, needs the oak to die back a bit. (JH) Drink 2022-2027
This shows a pretty center palate of dark fruit and hints of salt. Medium-bodied, firm and silky.
This has plenty of distinct strands of flavour – some real stuffing to the rich red fruits, persistent tannins infused with freshness. The Merlot was picked 13 to 22 September and Cabernet Franc on 22 September. From gravel and clay soils with a little sand. An excellent choice in Lalande-de-Pomerol, from the skilled hands of Denis Durantou. Drinking Window 2023 - 2036
The new oak adds a level of vanilla and spice to this wine and this makes it a little showier than both Saintayme and La Chenade. It is a wine with lovely balance and definition and the crunch of acidity and freshness serves to accentuate the bright fruit notes. This is a great vintage for Cabernet Franc and this is particularly clear in this wine.
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%) and Merlot (32%), with tiny proportions of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, has produced a deeply coloured wine with abundant aromas of dark summer pudding fruits. It has the characteristic muscular core that one seeks in St Estèphe, with a bolder degree of tannic depth than some wines of the vintage. The lasting flavours are of ripe black fruits with hints of cocoa and spice, with a long, focused finish.
The 2017 Cos d’Estournel is matured in 60% new oak and comprises 13% alcohol, approximately the same as the 2016. It has a more expressive and welcoming bouquet than usual, maybe more indicative of how this wine will mature in bottle, less opaque than the 2016. A common theme throughout the range from Cos d’Estournel is a Pauillac-inspired backbone/tannic structure coupled with an attractive scent wafting over from the estuary...think mudflats, oyster shells and the tang of sea spray. It gains a little intensity with aeration but never fully lets go. The palate is very well balanced with filigree tannin, rendering this one of the most approachable barrel samples from the estate in recent years. The coolness of the latter part of the season defines this Saint-Estèphe more than the precocity of June: streamlined, cool and linear with a velvety finish that feels sleek, to the point of being understated, though that belies its length and focus. This is simply a very classy wine in the making and typical of the more recent sophisticated style pursued by the property in recent years. 2022 - 2045
The final blend of the 2017 Cos d'Estournel is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Very deep purple-black in color, it offers up intense scents of crushed blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries with touches of incense, spice cake, star anise and plum preserves plus a perfumed hint of potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied with very firm yet wonderfully ripe, "sweet", fine-grained tannins at just 13% alcohol—something of a miracle in our modern times. The palate sports fantastic freshness and tons of energy emitted from the intensely perfumed black fruit layers, finishing on an epically long-lingering mineral note. Truly profound.
Inky with black core and purple rim. Dark-fruited and lightly charry to give a savoury/fruit complexity. Extremely pure cassis. A little more chewy than the Pagodes but still remarkably silky, with clarity, precision and length but without excess richness. Deep and long. Amazing balance already. Great precision, helped by a decade of experience in the new chai, says technical director Dominique Arangoits. Opens in the glass to reveal a hint of something floral. Plenty of depth but no excess weight, and modest alcohol. (JH) Drink 2025-2040
Love tasting this wine. You almost want to drink it for its harmony and balance. Full-bodied and so complete with cloves, spices, dark berries and hints of chocolate. Wonderful integration on the finish.
The 2017 Cos d'Estournel is a sleek, polished wine built on finesse more than power. Sweet, perfumed aromatics and silky tannins add to that impression. In 2017 the Grand Vin shows a distinctly red-fruit and floral character that matches its mid-weight personality nicely. The blend is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. New oak is around 60%.
This is exceptional, if a touch below the intensity and harmony of 2016. I love the density that's displayed in this wine, showcasing luxurious, well-enrobed tannins. The complexity steals up on you little by little, the dark cassis and plum fruit character deepening through the palate with flashes of sage, charcoal, cigar box, graphite and taut tannins. The colour difference is marked between the grand vin and second wine, with the Cos extremely deep damson in colour following a one-month maceration at 30 degrees and clever use of the press. Harvested 12- 30 September. 40% of production went into the grand vin. 3.7pH. IPT68. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
After a dry winter, the clay soils were not quite fully replenished with water. March saw good weather and an early bud break. There was no frost damage in April, because of their proximity to the Gironde. In June there were some warm conditions – above 30C during the day and even above 20C during the night. The vines started to suffer a little – a month earlier than this might happen in a normal vintage. From the 26 - 30 June 95mm rain fell and the vineyards recovered. July and August was a little cooler and not too sunny and ripening continued like clockwork. At the end of August, the growing slowed again, with the vegetal growth stopping but the grapes continued to ripen their tannins. Cool weather and some rain came in September and the skins ripened even faster and they started picking on 12th September. The grapes were perfectly ripe and the balance between skin ripeness, acidity and sugar was perfectly ‘Bordelaise’ according to Dominique. He said that the vintage ended up being a strange hybrid of 2003 heat and 2005 / 2010 coolness. The colour alone is incredible in this wine and this is the first signal to its intensity. The ripe skins gave up absolutely everything for this wine. There is trademark exoticism here found in the scent, but it is tempered by control and detail. There is exquisite balance here, too, and the tannins are sensational - mouth-watering but not too astringent. There are dark chocolate and plum notes on the palate and there is serious length here, but nothing is too hurried or over-extracted. There is no trace of oak – it is in perfect balance from all aspects of its make-up. This seems like a new dawn for Cos – it is a terroir vintage and the terroir has spoken.
The high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blend (90%) creates a full-bodied wine, with structure and brooding power. This is a full and intense wine focusing on deep, dark fruits. Ducru’s warmer terroir alongside the river comes into play in the sweetness and volume on the long, pleasurable finish.
The 2017 Ducru Beaucaillou was picked from 18 to 23 September for the Merlot, and from 25 to 30 September for the Cabernets. It is matured in 100% new oak over 18 months. It offers copious black fruit, violets, bay leaf and Asian spice notes on the nose that gathers momentum in the glass after a deceptively understated opening. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm tannin, the oak nicely integrated, not quite as harmonious as the 2016 but then again, few 2017s are. There is a rigid structure to this Ducru Beaucaillou underneath the carapace of ripe black fruit with touches of tobacco and spice lingering on the aftertaste. It is probably going to require more cellar age than many of its peers but it will be worth the wait. 2024 - 2045
There was no frost at Ducru-Beaucaillou in 2017 due to its proximity to the estuary. This barrel sample comes from the final blend, which was made in early 2018. Composed of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot and sporting a deep garnet-purple color, the 2017 Ducru-Beaucaillou is intensely scented of blackcurrant cordial, blackberries and lavender with hints of crushed rocks, iron ore, rose hips and Provence herbs plus touches of wood smoke and sandalwood. Medium-bodied, very firm and grainy in the mouth, it possesses lovely freshness, lifting the intense flavors, finishing long and minerally. Sporting an incredible core of muscular mid-palate fruit, this wine should age incredibly.
Very dark with black core. Super-refined dark fruit on the nose, ripe but not overly. Just a touch – and nicely – smoky. Chewy, deep tannin texture shot through with lovely juicy fruit, red and black. Lots of energy and the oak well in the background. Firm and chewy tannins and needs time but has a long fresh finish – lovely fresh fruit to the end that is entwined with the tannins to keep them moving across your palate. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
Holy.... This is so powerful and dense with amazing depth of fruit and beautifully ripe tannins tannins. Full body, layers of fruit and tannins. It’s has a long finish but then kicks off at the end. Remains classic in style.
The 2017 Ducru-Beaucaillou is distinctly sleek and polished, with a real air of sensuality. Finessed and racy to the core, the 2017 is all about elegance rather than the power that informed both the 2015 and 2016. Red-toned fruit, plush texture and silky tannins all contribute to the wine's restrained feel. A host of floral notes add brightness as the wine opens up in the glass. There is so much to like in the 2017. The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.
A little less intense and concentrated than the 2016, this focusses more on rich, smoky, finessed aromatics. The overall feel is gourmet and well textured, with some welcoming rich spice. A serious contender for the top St Julien in 2017, this has wonderfully fleshy blackberry fruits, a screech of graphite adding some mineral overtones, and a great dash of grilled oak. 7,500 cases of Ducru this year instead of 10,000 - they weren't affected by frost, but the Cabernets were just less generous this year, down to around 30hl/ha. This is accomplished winemaking, with great energy and poise. 100% new oak. 3.79pH. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
Being forced to harvest in only five days at the end of September on account of rain on the horizon, this hand was played by the elements and it benefitted Ducru immeasurably. This is an extremely energetic wine with fabulous flavours and the nose alone is terrific. The edge of slight ‘under-ripeness’ is thrilling. There are herb and spice notes here that I have never encountered in Ducru before. The finish has seriously impressive length and also spice and I venture that this will be a remarkable wine in years to come. This is an identity wine for Ducru and this property. Only 7500 cases were made, so this will come to be a very sought after wine. I have given this wine a huge score in this vintage because I am completely mesmerised by its magical charms.
Duhart-Milon has the good fortune to be owned by Domaines Barons de Rothschild and is overseen by the same team as Lafite, yet it often goes overlooked, given the fame of its sibling. The 2017 has a graphite aromatic purity that sings of its 76% Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is cool and savoury, with a salty, slatey edge. The tannins are refined and integrated with the dark fruits, and mineral freshness follows on to a long finish.
The 2017 Duhart-Milon has a crisp, pencil lead scented bouquet, introverted at first, a little conservative with smoke and freshly rolled tobacco. It is classic Duhart-Milon really. The palate is medium-bodied with a sharp, pointed entry. This is already quite austere and saline in the mouth, just a little toughness towards the finish that should soften by the end of the élevage. There is something almost standoffish about this Pauillac, a noticeable bell pepper tang developing towards the finish that lingers after the wine has departed. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2020 - 2035
A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, the 2017 Duhart-Milon is beautifully scented of crushed red and black currants, black raspberries and spice cake with suggestions of lavender, cloves and rose hip tea. The palate is medium-bodied, very soft and elegant with seamless freshness and a lingering spiciness on the finish.
Deep greyish crimson. Delicately sweet ripe fruit but with the graphite savour of the vintage and all the good Cabernet. Tannins are fine-grained but the overall effect is a rather flat mid palate, not hollow but no very lively. Smooth but somehow lacking vitality on the mid palate. Persistent, still. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
Very pretty chocolate and dark-berry character with a medium to full body, soft and silky tannins and a fresh finish. Balanced and refined.
The 2017 Duhart Milon is deep, luscious and fruity, with lovely mid-palate depth and pliancy. Soft, silky tannins wrap around a core of dark red and blackish fruit. The 2017 is a very pretty Clerc Milon with plenty to recommend it. This is really quite lovely. The blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot. Duhart is another impressive wine in a portfolio from Lafite that is especially strong this year.
A brilliantly elegant, suave Duhart, one of the successes of the appellation for me. This is a classically structured Duhart, a wine that is not overly exuberant but that has a sense of direction and balance, and is well held together. There's a very attractive quality to the tannins, joined by dark bilberry fruits that gain weight through the palate. It doesn't quite have the dense concentration and richness of 2016, but that was an exceptional vintage. This is a wine that I look forward to following as it ages. Around 5% frost on the northwest corner, affecting the Merlot for the second wine (not tasted). But overall the vintage was so early that even though the September rains probably brought alcohol levels down a touch, they did not unduly worry as the fruit was already ripe enough. 3.75pH. 50% new oak. 38hl/ha yield. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
There is evident fruit freshness and lift on the nose but this is not backed up by the palate which seems more traditionally shaped with quite bold notes and some juiciness. Not overly complex this is a decent Duhart with smooth lines and a plumpness and immediacy on the palate which seems quite surprising in this vintage.
90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Ch L’Eglise Clinet is Denis Durantou’s tiny and prized 4.2 hectare estate. Denis practices strict fermentation temperature control (between 26-28°C) so as to extract only the highest quality tannins. The wine has a deep crimson colour, and this Merlot-dominated wine has a concentrated smoothness, a profound tannic structure, and a long life ahead of it. The aromatics of the blackberry fruit are mingled with a cinnamon and vanilla spice from oak ageing.
The 2017 L’Eglise-Clinet was picked between 12 and 22 September, the Cabernet Franc coming in on the last day. Nothing was touched by the frost. It is matured in 70% new oak. Denis Durantou did not specify the exact quantity produced, “Just enough for my friends” according to his spec sheet! The bouquet is very succinct, perhaps more open than either the 2015 or 2016 at this early stage, extraordinarily pure with blackberry, wild strawberry, smoke and truffle. It just gets better and better as it opens in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, linear and focused, very fresh with pointed acidity. This is full of tension and poise, a touch of graphite emerging towards the finish that lingers in the mouth with superb salinité at the end. It completes a triumvirate for Denis Durantou after the 2015 and 2016s. 2024 - 2050
A blend of 90% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 L'Eglise Clinet opens with crème de cassis, black forest cake and preserved plums notes with suggestions of underbrush, lilacs and star anise plus an invigorating spark of Bing cherries. Medium to full-bodied and built like a brick house with very firm, ripe tannins and very refreshing acidity supporting the tightly wound muscular fruit, it finishes with epic persistence and bags of energy. This will be extremely long lived!
Black core with purple crimson rim. A hint of oak char on the nose but underneath that is pure black fruit and a creamy character. Smooth and rounded on the palate, the fruit and the oak already well melded. The finish is darker and more savoury, the oak char closing the circle. But the harmony is very good. Not as charming as La Petite Église but longer-term in potential. (JH) Drink 2027-2037
This really rolls on the palate with fantastic fruit and tannins. Full-bodied, structured and layered. Long, long finish. Impressive all the way.
The 2017 L'Eglise-Clinet is one of the most polished, sensual wines of the year. Bright, precise and yet full of flavor, the 2017 has a lot to offer. Cedar, licorice and rose petal are just some of the many nuances that add aromatic dimension. Deceptive in its mid-weight structure, the 2017 offers notable intensity and persistence. What a gorgeous wine it is. Harvest was about a week earlier than normal. Denis Durantou gave the various lots in the Grand Vin 15-18 days on the skins. The 70% new oak is impeccably balanced in several samples.
The production was, as Denis Durantou puts it, ‘Just enough bottles for my friends’! Denis made 20% less wine in 2017 overall, but this was because of the drought rather than the frost, which did not affect his vines. He is determined to keep his alcohol levels down, shunning the high peaks in past vintages. He wants to make wines that ‘he can drink’. The attention now on acidity and purity. This vintage has a higher pH than 2015 but lower than 2016. L’Eglise Clinet has more tannins than in 2015, but it is much silkier. He now makes ‘Le vin de mon vignes’. This is a delicious wine with elements of previous vintages, like chocolate and bright, black cherry fruit, but the new identity of freshness and tone is electric.
Unusually for L’Evangile, the 2017 is a single variety wine: 100% Merlot. Their parcels of Cabernet Franc, a variety that usually accounts for 6-10% of the blend, were severely frosted. Much like Ch Figeac in St Emilion, they used precision viticulture to determine what to pick when, and various passes were made through the vines over a long harvest to select the fruit at optimal ripeness with fine, mature tannins. The wine has an abundance of dark, luxurious fruit, with a lovely cool sleekness to the palate. With 14.6% alcohol – albeit moderate compared to some other vintages at this estate – it has that fleshy, rich mid-palate that some of the weaker examples from the vintage are missing. A triumph.
The 2017 L’Evangile is picked from 4 September to 3 October. There is no Cabernet Franc since it was frosted over (50% of the vineyard) and so Jean-Pierre Vazart said it is missing some of its power. He marked all the vines with different colors to indicate those affected so that none of the second-generation fruit was used for the Grand Vin. Yields came in at 20hl/ha and it is matured in 100% new oak. It has a deep inky purple hue. The new wood comes over quite strongly as it often does, perhaps missing the Cabernet Franc component to support that level of wood? There are light floral scents: wilted iris and violet that spring up with aeration although I would still like to see more terroir expression. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, mocha and dark chocolate on the entry with a fine bead of acidity. But I have a nagging question of whether a more prudent approach to the new oak might have engendered a more endearing L’Evangile, I was a bit disturbed by the level of wood tannin on the finish. I will be more than happy to upgrade my score if the tannin will be absorbed during élevage and with bottle age and I will be more than happy to upgrade my score. 2023 - 2045
The 2017 L'Evangile is deep garnet-purple in color, featuring a profoundly scented nose of plum preserves, smoked meats, chargrill and cigar box with touches of licorice, tapenade, tar and truffles plus an earthy waft of underbrush. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a lovely purity of black and blue fruits, accented with baking spice notions and framed by plush tannins that offer just the right amount of provocative grip, finishing long and earthy.
Very dark crimson. Dark, savoury and a touch meaty – beefy. A hint of oak char. Very ripe and spicy fruit flavours, even a hint of dried fruit. Structured and muscular. Compact tannins – smooth but a touch chewy. Savoury, rather than fruity, and firmly dry on the finish. (JH) 14.6% Drink 2025-2035
Very fine and velvety tannins in the mouth with juicy fruit that gives dark-berry, chocolate and spice character. Medium to full body. Bright acidity. Harmonious and very pretty. Pure merlot. Reminds me of the 2012, but shows a little more ripeness and suppleness.
The 2017 L'Évangile is a stunning wine. Frost wiped out half of the potential crop, including all of the Cabernet Franc, which means the Grand Vin is 100% Merlot. Rich, sumptuous and explosive, the 2017 possesses remarkable depth and stunning intensity in all of its dimensions. The purity, energy and textural resonance of the fruit is ravishing. The 2017 saw five days of cold soak followed by 30 days on the skins. Technical Director Jean Pascal Vazart opted for gentle pumpovers and longer extractions than normal. Malolactic fermentation was done in 100% new oak, where the wine is presently aging. A massive, concentrated wine, L'Évangile is going to need a number of years to be at its very best, but it is magnificent, even in the early going. In a word: dazzling!
With 50% frost damage, this estate was very severely wounded by the conditions including all of the top Cabernet Franc and so Evangile is 100% Merlot for the first time ever. The plateau was not damaged but sections near Bon Pasteur, Gazin, Beauregard and Cheval Blanc were badly hit. They picked during the whole of September! With a much richer and more powerful feel to this wine it is refreshing but also flamboyant and there is a luxurious feel which other wines don’t have. The tannins are spicy and bright and there is no astringency whatsoever. The summer was dry and not rainy so this is responsible for the ripeness and also the maturity of the tannins. This will be a very forward-drinking vintage, but not because it is light or juicy, but because the balance is spot on.
Sadly for our friend Philippe Lacoste, this lovely property was severely hit by the frost in 2017, so the production is tiny. But the quality of what little wine has been produced is excellent. A blend of 35% Petit Verdot, 50% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a rich and generous style, with lovely sweetness of fruit and a gentle, velvety softness. Approachable and very appealing.
The 2017 Ferran was frost damaged and production reduced from around 6,000 cases to around 1,500. It is a blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Petit Verdot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon picked from 25 September. It has quite a generous bouquet of black cherries, marmalade and light sous-bois notes that become more palpable with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannin, just a gentle smear of mocha and a savory, lightly spiced, mocha-tinged finish that just cuts away a little swiftly. 2021 - 2028
The 2017 Ferran is deep garnet-purple in color with warm black plums and blackberry preserves notions and touches of truffles, smoked meats and black pepper. Medium-bodied, soft and with good flavor intensity, it has a lovely refreshing finish.
Medium body, firm tannins, fresh acidity and a vibrant finish make for an appealing young Bordeaux. Undertones of herbs.
The 2017 Ferran is plump, juicy and quite tasty. Succulent red cherry, plum, lavender and sweet spice give this mid-weight, pliant Pessac Léognan its racy, succulent personality. The 2017 is not especially complex, but it is very, very pretty, not to mention a joy to taste.
This was a high profile casualty of the April frost, which affected 70% of the property. But with a ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ attitude, the team at Figeac threw the kitchen sink at 2017, and have emerged victorious. Drones and precision viticulture were used to map the 25,000 plants, allowing them to distinguish when vines were ready for picking. This method saw the team of vendangeurs make up to three passes in certain parcels. As a result the estate has made just under half the volume of Grand Vin compared to 2016. What they have made is magical. It has a lower proportion of Cabernet Franc than usual (10%), with 43% Merlot, and 47% Cabernet Sauvignon. The colour is dark with a black cherry rim foretelling its kirsch aroma. The palate is focused and fresh, with minty length. It is less opulent in style than the 2015 or 2016, but the texture of its tannins is impeccable. It is a powerful, meaty style, with plenty of Cabernet guts. A triumph.
The 2017 Figeac was picked from 7 September to 3 October at 22hl/ha (average across frosted and non-frosted parcels) with 13.5° alcohol. It has a deep purple hue. The bouquet is very well defined, quite strict at first with well-behaved blackberry, raspberry, pressed rose petals and just a touch of violet. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine backbone, fresh in the mouth with a sense of energy, quite precise and linear with a pinch of spice towards the finish, a little graphite lingering on the aftertaste. This is unapologetically classic in style and whilst it might be over-shadowed by the sensational 2015 and 2016 Figeac, this is an impressive follow-up to that might pair that has really put Figeac back on the map. 2023 - 2045
The 2017 Figeac is composed of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Very deep garnet-purple in color, the nose sings of Cabernet Sauvignon—bright crushed black currants, blackberries and wild blueberries with wafts of lilacs, pencil shavings, tobacco, tilled earth plus a hint of bay leaves. The medium-bodied mouth is fine, elegant, minerally and incredibly vivacious with tons of energy. Bright and refreshing with firm, grainy tannins and a provocative hint of chew, it finishes with great length. This should age wonderfully. 100% new oak was used for this sample and it is very well-integrated.
Deep cherry red with lots of purple. Lifted and fragrant. Finely and intensely scented. This is very fine: pure and precise, some red fruit on the palate. Succulent, juicy, scented on the palate too. Silky, charming, mouth-watering. So succulent, so precise, unforced. (JH) 13.5% Drink 2025-2040
This is a dense and layered red with blackberries, blueberries and hints of hazelnuts. Full-bodied, very tight and focused. Impressive young tannins. Velvety texture. Very pretty to taste. Juicy and delicious. 43% merlot, 47% caberent sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc. Less franc than normal due to the frost.
One of Listrac’s most consistent properties in recent times under the careful management of the Chanfreau family. Dark spiced smoky aromas of blackberry fruits. This is a wine has volume and an excellent texture revealing a tannic structure behind the dark black fruits. The finish is bright and fresh.
The 2017 Fonréaud is a Listrac estate that was less affected by the frost than its neighbors. It has a nicely proportioned bouquet with blackberry, briary and cedar scents that gently unfold in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a little oaky at the moment but there is decent black fruit laced with cedar and tobacco towards the finish. 2020 - 2030
The 2017 Fonreaud is deep garnet-purple in color and scented of crushed black cherries, mulberries and cigar box with a waft of mossy bark. The palate is soft, juicy and innocuous with nice harmony.
Deep crimson. Pretty, fresh, lifted aroma of both red and black fruit and a light note of cedar as well as some oak sweetness. I happened to taste this wine three times en primeur, twice in Bordeaux and once in London, and this last is definitely its best showing: more supple on the palate even though the tannins are firm. Chewy on the finish but not hard, as the other samples were. Needs quite a bit of time but all the components are there if not yet melded. Smooth chocolate-textured finish and the oak is pretty dominant at the very end. (JH) Drink 2023-2030
A juicy red with plum and light chocolate character. Medium body, fine tannins and a fresh finish.
Well-executed charcoal and almond oak grilling, which is helpful to the aromatics and mid palate here. The fruit keeps pace – elegant, carefully handled, but not heart quickening. Drinking Window 2023 - 2033
Ch Gazin is one of the larger estates of Pomerol at 24 hectares. It often flies under the radar during the campaign but consistently delivers the star qualities of Pomerol at a fair price. The 2017 displays juicy rich fruit on the nose. There is an appealing tension between lightly puckering tannins and fresh acidity. A little more time before bottling will help the wine broaden and find its balance.
The 2017 Gazin has a very classic Pomerol bouquet with black brambly fruit infused with black truffle and subtle raspberry confit notes. Then, as it opens, there are loamy aromas that lend more complexity. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin and a fine bead of acidity. There is a slightly powdery texture, feeling quite saline. White pepper and fennel notes become more conspicuous towards the finish. Just a classic Gazin from proprietor Nicolas de Bailliencourt and his team. 2022 - 2045
The 2017 Gazin is medium to deep garnet-purple colored and scented of warm red plums and black forest cake with touches of forest floor and crushed rocks. Medium-bodied, soft, rounded and mouth-filling, it gives good expression and depth.
Deep crimson. A little meaty on the nose, but with a definite graphite note and sweet black plum. Firm and dry but the fruit is there for a balanced whole. Persistent, too. (JH) Drink 2024-2032
A dense and flavorful red already with dark-berry, seaweed and wet-earth undertones. Full body and round and chewy tannins. Green olives on the finish. Serious for the vintage.
The 2017 Gazin is lush, sensual and enveloping, with lovely palate presence and tons of pure class. Bright floral notes perk up the red berry fruit in a seductive, open-knit Pomerol that captures the best the vintage has to offer. In 2017 Gazin is quite giving today, but also has a good bit of freshness and aromatic nuance that should allow it to develop nicely for years to come. Tasted three times.
Concentrated and with fine detail, this is a well-balanced wine with a lot of power and attack on the nose and palate. The oak seems quite dominant at the moment but this will melt away, but the fruit is full and ripe and there is some considerable detail in terms of red and black flavour complexity. Long and savoury, but not too dry, this is a lovely Gazin.
Alexandre van Beek explained how his property experienced severe losses to the frost on the lower slopes, but that vines with a slight elevation were spared. There is a delicious juiciness to this Giscours. It has the freshness of 2014, but silkier tannins and a more accessible frame. The extended hang-time afforded to the Cabernet fruit means the wine has an unforced integration between tannin and fruit.
The 2017 Giscours, picked 15 September to 5 October, is matured in 50% new oak with around 5 or 6% of vin de presse. It has a perfumed bouquet with black fruit, a touch of oyster shell and iris, very pure and quite sensual in style. It does not make an immediate impact but rather grows on you. The palate is medium-bodied, the mouthfeel supple, smooth and harmonious with fine-grain tannin, perhaps just missing a little structure towards the conservative, straight-laced finish. That suggests it will be an approachable Giscours compared to the 2015 and 2016, but one with breeding and class. Tasted on three occasions. 2021 - 2040
Blended of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Giscours is scented of crushed black currants, blackberry tart and black raspberries with touches of Indian spices, Sichuan pepper and violets plus a waft of chocolate box. Medium-bodied with wonderful freshness defining the palate and elevating the red and black fruits, it finishes with a nice ripe, grainy texture paving the way.
Deep crimson. Perfumed with cassis freshness, straightforward and a sense of small-berried fruit. Even some red fruit and a touch of vanilla. Really quite discreet. Finesse in the tannins, a delicacy that belies its persistence on the finish and just enough fruit at the core for harmony. Needs more time than some, I think. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
A firm and silky red with dark-berry, cherry and mineral aromas and flavors. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a driven finish. Very dialed-in.
The 2017 Giscours is a terrific, and also a worthy follow up to both the 2015 and 2016. Rich and pliant in the glass, the 2017 exudes notable depth in its super-ripe dark cherry, plum, chocolate, leather and menthol flavors. Above all else, the 2017 offers a striking combination of juiciness, freshness and brightness, with terrific depth and plenty of nuance. The 2017 finishes with notable creaminess and textural elegance. This is very nicely done.
An accomplished, enjoyable Giscours. The fruit character is less generous than 2015 and 2016, but it still has presence and charm. Damson, bilberry, charcoal and slate are cradled by fine tannins that point to well-controlled extraction. There's no dip through the mid-palate, and the overall structure is juicy and elegant rather than exuberant. A juicy frame that will age well. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
Amongst so many high-profile neighbours in St Julien, it says much for the quality of this unclassified château that their 2017 stands comfortably amongst its peers. The initial aromas are a little reserved, but there is a distinct hit of black fruits. The structured palate has something of neighbouring Pauillac’s power which flows through to a subtle sweetness and freshness.
The 2017 Gloria, tasted from a new barrel though the final blend will include 50% new oak and the remainder one-year old, has a straightforward but pure bouquet with blackberry, briary and cedar aromas accompanied by a distant whiff off the estuary. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, crisp acidity, a little “brittle” in the mouth, but quite precise towards the finish. It actually ends much better than it begins so I will expand my banded score to indicate potential upgrade in quality. Let’s see. 2022 - 2038
The 2017 Gloria is deep garnet-purple in color and scented of warm plums and blueberry pie with hints of potpourri, tilled soil and espresso. The palate is medium-bodied with just enough expressive fruit and a fine, approachable frame. The blend is currently 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot.
Mid crimson. Lifted cassis and cassis leaf. A little austere but very fresh and with fine-line purity. Dry, dark-chocolate finish that leaves your mouth feeling clean. (JH) Drink 2025-2035
A tight and focused red with currants, dark berries and hints of mushrooms. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a juicy finish.
The 2017 Gloria is superb. At once deep and fleshy, but also beautifully delineated, the 2017 is incredibly satisfying. Succulent red and blue fruit, cedar, tobacco, anise and leather are some of the many notes that develop in the glass in an explosive, potent Saint-Julien that delivers the goods, and then some. Best of all, Gloria remains one of the most compelling values in all of Bordeaux. Don't miss it. Tasted three times.
Tight but plentiful fruit extraction. The expression is a little less full than in 2016, but there is both finesse and grip to the fine, firmly held tannins as they travel through the palate, accompanying cassis, fern, rosemary, heather and cigar box notes. Enjoyable stuff. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
Rather blunt and a little saw-dusty, this is a rather short and stubby wine but it has a lot of energy initially on the palate. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in muscle, but this will never be an elegant wine.
My impression is that this fine wine may be underestimated by some tasters. It is not a showstopper, but a wine of poise, balance and integrity. Striking bramble and dark berry aromas, this has an appealing succulence whilst retaining a tightly knit tannic core. A wine with an unforced depth of both fruit and weight. It highlights François-Xavier Borie’s skill in allowing both nature and terroir to express themselves beautifully.
The 2017 Grand Puy Lacoste was picked from 15 to 29 September cropped at 45hl/ha, matured in 75% new oak. It has a clean, precise and conservative bouquet that takes time to open. I like the mineral tension here, the focus, and hints of freshly shucked oyster shell emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, fresh in the mouth with plenty of cedar and tobacco-infused red and black fruit that drive a long, slightly peppery finish. It is a quintessential Grand Puy Lacoste, sans the frills of the 2016 and yet you can already imagine this being drunk to the very last drop in about ten years time. It is simply a very likeable Grand Puy Lacoste in the making. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2022 - 2042
Colour of blackcurrant juice. Fresh and peppery with lots of pure, fine cassis on the nose. Dark and pure. Silky, moreish, not that much more intense than the second wine Lacoste Borie but a little more persistent and more depth in the middle. Fine tannins, soft and supple. Fresh on the finish. Pure and persistent in its relative delicacy. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
Very pretty and focused with a tight and refined palate of juicy tannins and a savory finish. Elegant.
The 2017 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is bright, floral and nicely lifted. Gracious in style, the 2017 is built on a core of fresh, red-toned fruit. Silky tannins add to the wine's elegant, cooly sophisticated personality. There is plenty to like and admire in this classically restrained, gracious Pauillac from François-Xavier Borie. The blend is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Tasted two times.
These guys often over-deliver in challenging years, and have done so yet again. As you would expect in a vintage that has produced such an excellent Lacoste Borie, this GPL is exceptional, a real success that's juicy and carefully extracted. It has weight and impact, with a Pauillac tannic hold and presence. It's one of my wines of the vintage, and a must buy. The balanced, sculpted, juicy black fruits fully deliver personality and signature style. Harvested 15-29 September, yielding 45hl/ha. 80% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
This has a thrilling nose which, in spite of the weighty dominance of Cabernet, is perfectly red-fruited and sonorous. This is a sleek thoroughbred with power and grace and it is layered with flashes of both red and black fruit on the palate. The finish has more muscle and more tannin looms as the flavour senesces on the back of the palate and the result is a game of flamboyance and reticence warning the drinker that while the flavour entices you in, there is also the need to exercise restraint because this is a not a wine for drinking in the short term in spite of its apparent precocity. Throughout the flavour there is levity and this is what makes this powerful wine such an unequivocal success. François-Xavier Borie agrees with this character. He smiled – ‘don’t forget we are serious’.
Gruaud Larose’s reputation for classically consistent St Julien is once again realised in this 2017. This is not a powerhouse, but is driven by its intense cassis Cabernet flavours. The tannins are relatively firm, but provide added dimension and layers of flavour on the finish. This will be very rewarding.
The 2017 Gruaud Larose was picked from 15 to 20 September for the Merlot and from 21 to 3 October for the Cabernets, fermented in wood and cement tanks and aged in French oak, 80% new for 18 to 24 months. It comes in with 12.88° alcohol. Quite deep in colour, it has an introverted bouquet at first that demands a lot of coaxing from the glass. There are notes of black cherry, iodine and just a touch of pencil lead. The palate is medium-bodied with finely balanced. An unpretentious but pretty Gruaud Larose that is benefitted by what is clearly a prudent extraction. The oak is neatly integrated with a linear, almost pastille-like finish and quite a sustained aftertaste. 2022 - 2040
Mid greyish crimson. Sweetness of black fruit and oak spice on the nose with a hint of vanilla. Fresh, very light on the palate but the tannins are silky enough to be in balance with this rather light-bodied wine. Harmonious but it seems too light for the very long term. (JH) Drink 2025-2032
A firm and silky young red with an attractive center palate of fruit and hints of cedar. Fresh, tight and compacted.
The 2017 Gruaud Larose is pliant, deep and quite expressive, while staying light on its feet. In 2017, Gruaud is a wine of precision and nuance rather than volume. There is lovely persistence and nuance in the glass. Even so, I can't help thinking there is quite a bit of unrealized potential here. All of the wine was fermented in oak vats, with slightly higher than normal temperatures for the Cabernets.
This is a firm, well-placed cassis and redcurrant expression, ripe enough to highlight some of the best qualities of a classic St-Julien vintage, but not quite hitting its stride. Still, it has a lovely floral character and a fine tannic structure. An attractive, carefully expressed Gruaud Larose with lots to enjoy. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
A lush nose kicks things off and this fruit continues to shine on the palate. There is some rather stern oak, but it doesn’t dry things out, rather it props up the fruit and lifts it up to the taster. The acid and tannin are bright and grippy, but not drying, and while the fruit is not as exotic nor as expressive as many, this is a competent and reliable Gruaud.
Ch Haut Bailly lost around 30% of their yield to frost, which mostly affected the plots used in their second wine, La Parde. The château’s owner, financier and philanthropist Robert Wilmers, passed away in December 2017, but there is no doubt this wine would have met with his approval. The Merlot component (32%) is fruity and finely weighted, and the Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) provides aromatic freshness and silky structure to the tannins. 4% each of old vine Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were co-fermented this year and add spice and depth to the blend. It is a precise and pure wine, and one of the most successful in the appellation.
The 2017 Haut-Bailly was cropped at 28hl/ha (40hl/ha on non-frozen parcels and 2hl/ha on frosted parcels) and includes co-fermented Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is unlikely to contain any vin de presse this year, unlike in 2016, and it is matured in 50% new oak. There is a pH of 3.74 with 13.2° alcohol. It has an attractive and quite opulent bouquet, a mixture of red and black fruit, hints of crushed stone and briary, a light oyster shell influence. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin but there is good backbone here, quite “solid” for Haut-Bailly and it will need to just soften the edges during its élevage. With moderate length and a very attractive graphite aftertaste, this Haut-Bailly will require five or six years in bottle but will repay the patient wine-lover. 2021 - 2040
The 2017 Haut-Bailly is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Very deep garnet-purple colored, it has a wonderfully spicy nose of cinnamon stick, cloves, anise and fenugreek with core of roses, warm blueberries, black forest cake and black raspberries plus hints of underbrush and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied with firm, ripe, grainy tannins, it has oodles of freshness and great finesse, continuing bright and energetic on the long, minerally finish.
Very dark with purple rim. Oozes elegance on the nose, subtle dark fruit, nicely dusty/mineral and a touch of graphite and a slight and attractive herbaceous note. More fragrant with air. Texture is fine like layers of paper, tannins are dry and refined. Lightness of touch but really persistent. Juicy, gentle. Very lovely, the graphite elegance, freshness and fruit go on to the end. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
A firm and silky red with a medium to full body, a solid center palate and a long and integrated finish. Very fine, polished and refined. Creamy tannins. Hints of bitter orange.
The 2017 Haut-Bailly is an understated beauty. Nothing in particular stands out rather it is the wine's balance that impresses most. All the classic Haut-Bailly signatures come through in a mid-weight, super-finessed wine that hits all the right notes. Dark red and blue stone fruits, graphite, smoke, licorice and incense are all laced into the super-expressive finish. The 2017 emerges from the estate's central, most historic parcels, as those vineyards were not affected by the April frost that took with it 30% of the production.
This is one of the calmest and most centred wines of 2017. There is no tension here, just precision and balletic balance. The fruit is focussed, deep and proud and the amalgam of the blend is amazing. There are two ages of Petit Verdot vines in the wine and they both add a different aspect to the wine. This spice is integral to this wine’s appeal. There is a voluptuousness and also elegance about this wine and it is not bigger than the second wine La Prade, it is just much longer and finer. This is a succulent, Burgundian-shaped wine in its demeanour and yet the tannins and the acidity are going to keep it going for years and years.
2017 marks the first vintage for Jean-Charles Cazes and the Lynch Bages team since acquiring this lovely property from their neighbours the Bories. The 2017 reflects the Cazes family style. With a dark density to the colour, this is a beautiful reflection of high class Pauillac fruit, with masses of black cherry flavours. It balances a chunky intensity with sweetness of flavour. Ripe and succulent with a refreshing lift on the finish providing length and character.
The 2017 Haut Batailley, which is matured in 60% new oak for 18 months, is clearly more sophisticated than the second wine, polished by the oak of course but underneath its intense blackberry and boysenberry fruit, quite floral with touches of violet and iris. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a fine bead of acidity, well-integrated oak and very smooth polished finish that glides across the mouth. There is fine precision on the finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2020 - 2032
This is very structured and serious. Full-bodied, tannic and powerful. Boom. This is one of the best Haut-Batailleys in years. From the new owners, who also own Lynch-Bages.
The 2017 Haut-Batailley is a hugely promising wine. Sumptuous and expressive in the glass, with gorgeous layers of fruit that unfold effortlessly, the 2017 has quite a bit to offer. Silky tannins add an air of sensuality to a core of dark fruit, lavender, leather and spice notes. Tasted next to the bottled 2016, the 2017 speaks with an effortless refinement. The oak is especially well judged for a young wine. The Cazes family is putting a serious amount of investment behind their newest acquisition. Among other things, an ambitious replanting program is underway. Jean-Charles Cazes told me yields were generous in 2017, which is quite unusual for the year.
The first year under the Cazes family, and we can expect big changes over the next few years with an extensive replanting programme planned. But for now, let's look at 2017, where production has been split 33% second wine and 66% grand vin, with no frost to hamper them. It's rich and deep, with a sense of forward motion and flexible tannins pushing the cassis fruit from start to finish, joined by focussed and lively brambled fruits and gentle cedar smoking. The austerity is clear, and it's a little lighter-framed than the Lynch Bages, and very different in personality, but it has real promise and I like it enormously. Expect a new label with the Tour d'Aspic tower and the JM Cazes family name. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2036
53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.3% Cabernet Franc. There is a profound power and length to this wine. Aromas of sweet, mellow dark fruits flow through onto the palate where they are wrapped in a velvety texture. The svelte tannins are abundant, and show more presence than many other wines in this vintage, but their character is so smooth they melt on the palate. Its freshness is derived from minerality and bright berry fruit flavours rather than simple acidity. Its length is astonishing; it holds your attention well after the wine has left your palate.
The 2017 Haut-Brion was picked from 31 August to 29 September, the longest harvest ever, matured in 69% new oak with 14.25% alcohol (lower than recent vintages.) It has a more generous bouquet than the La Mission Haut-Brion at this point: black cherries, blueberry, a little confit fruit, hints of warm gravel and clove. It is much more restrained than the previous vintages – cooler and linear. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, nicely structured with more grip in the mouth than the La Mission. What it has in common with the aforementioned is a sense of symmetry. It feels very persistent with a light marine/oyster shell influence on the finish. This probably has the edge over the La Mission Haut-Brion at the moment, but intra-family competitiveness aside, it boils down to a great follow-up to the brilliant 2015 and 2016. 2022 - 2050
Composed of 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.3% Cabernet Franc, the very deep purple-black colored 2017 Haut-Brion is a little closed on the nose, revealing fresh blackberries, black currants and dark chocolate with suggestions of pencil shavings, beef drippings, tilled soil and cracked black pepper plus a waft of lavender. Medium to full-bodied, it has very firm, ripe, grainy tannins and a lively backbone structuring the tightly knit earth and black fruit layers, finishing with compelling mineral and perfumed layers.
Colour of black cherries with healthy crimson rim. Warm oak spice over cool dark fruit. Succulent, mouth-watering and so supple. There's a core of pure black fruit and an elegance in both non-sweet fruit and fine-boned structure but all with a discreet generosity. Needs time to meld but it's magnetic in its attraction. Perhaps a little less rich than La Mission but more intense and persistent at this stage. (JH) 14% Drink 2027-2047
A tight and focused red with dark-berry, chocolate and hazelnut character. Medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a linear and fine finish. Very refined. Elegant and balanced.
The 2017 Haut-Brion is intriguing. Less powerful and explosive than it can be, in 2017 Haut-Brion makes its case with persistence over heft. Time in the glass brings out attractive suggestions of tobacco, game, bacon fat, iron and wild cherry. It will be interesting to see where the 2017 goes from here. Today, it lacks the visceral thrill that makes the best vintages utterly irresistible, even if the phenomenally long finish is a thing of real beauty. The blend is 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.3% Cabernet Franc.
A hugely captivating wine, one of the contenders for red of the vintage. There's an incredible plush, dense texture to the fruit here, with just the slightest pulling back on the final section that suggests the damson, cassis and black cherry fruit is not at the full extent of ripeness seen in 2016 and 2015, but there is absolutely no question that this is a successful, rich and well-expressed wine. It's extremely powerful and well constructed, with great tannins and a succulence which grows through the palate. 3.73pH. Drinking Window 2026 - 2042
This is another heroic Haut-Brion and like its partner across Avenue Jean Jaurès it has a tannin structure and freshness which are uniquely appealing. There is more stern fruit here and it is straight-jacketed in strict tannins and bold brushstrokes of acidity. The flavour is a little reluctant to emerge and yet there is spice here and also both red and black fruit (whereas La Mission focussed more on the black side). There is also a lovely tender floral scent which hovers over the glass. It is a key to the fascinating top notes which will undoubtedly emerge given time. 2017 Haut-Brion will need a long while to slumber before it is ready to perform, so do not be in a hurry.
Ch d’Issan is a magnificent moated property that dependably delivers an excellent portrait of the Margaux appellation. They reported 2017 was their earliest harvest since 2003, starting on 18th September. Issan’s vines were fortuitously protected from the frost by the insulation of the stone wall that runs around the estate. The wine has a sweet scent of red fruits, currants, raspberries and plums, thanks to its high proportion of Merlot (35%). The tannins are quietly grippy and provide structure to the body of the wine. With a balanced weight this will develop into an enjoyable wine.
The 2017 d’Issan was picked from 18 September to 3 October, the earliest since 2003. It was cropped at 43hl/ha and matured in 50% new oak. It has an elegant and understated bouquet with blackberry, black truffle and pencil lead aromas, quite Pauillac in style compared to previous vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with fine definition, quite saline in the mouth with black fruit, tar and minerals towards the lightly spiced finish that lingers in the mouth. It will benefit from several years in bottle but this continues a purple patch for this historic Margaux.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 D'Issan (a tentative blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot) opens with crushed blueberries and black plums notes with hints of cassis, licorice and violets. Medium-bodied with a firm and finely grained frame, it has oodles of freshness lifting the ripe black and blue fruits to a long, perfumed finish.
Deep cherry red. Sweet, lifted red-cherry fruit on the nose. Very inviting. Cherries on the palate, too. Not particularly concentrated but scented with red fruit and the tannins are appropriately light to match the depth of fruit. Fresh and persistent. Silky finish. Not for the very long term, perhaps. (JH) Drink 2023-2032
This sneaks up on you with a pretty density of ripe fruit such as plums and strawberries. Full body, layered and ripe tannins set this young wine up for a tannic and fruity finish.
The 2017 d'Issan is plump, juicy and forward. There is lovely depth and texture to the 2017, but without the explosive energy that has characterized some recent vintages, including the 2015 and 2016. Plush fruit, silky and soft tannins all add to the wine's considerable appeal. I expect the 2017 will drink well with minimal cellaring. In 2017, d'Issan is a wine of finesse, persistence and nuance rather than power. The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. Harvest started on September 18, the earliest since 2003. Quite unusually, there was no break in between the picking of the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Indeed, some of the younger vine Cabernet came in before all the Merlots were in. Tasted four times.
This is rather lovely this year. It has a real depth to the fruit, with a brush of caramel through it and a highly appealing cigar box twist on the finish. It doesn't quite have the voluptuous ripeness of 2015 and 2016, but there's plenty of Margaux elegance, precision and touches of florality. They weren't badly affected by frost here, so they had a healthy yield of 43hl/ha. A complete wine with beginning, middle and end. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2024 - 2040
A very fruit-driven and succulent wine augmented with some nice vanillin oak, this is a decent effort from Issan and while the finish is a little dry, this is a balanced wine for short-term drinking.
A classic entry-level Pauillac from François-Xavier Borie and his team at Grand Puy Lacoste. Shining purple in colour, with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla pod on the nose. The palate is open and approachable with cassis fruit and a relatively delicate tannic structure. A well-balanced wine for mid-term drinking.
The 2017 Lacoste Borie was picked from 15 to 29 September, cropped at 49hl/ha. It has a clean, fresh and slightly earthy bouquet, what you might call “classic” in style, perhaps not quite as precise as the 2016 but then again, few 2017s are. The palate is medium-bodied with firm and strict tannin, a little raw at the moment with a small attenuation on the slightly rough-hewn finish. Not bad although I would like to see more finesse by the time of bottling. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2019 - 2028
Deep crimson with soft purple rim. Has both dark Cabernet fruit and the sweetness of Merlot. Gentle and inviting. Fruit sweetness and freshness on the finish – you'd almost think of drinking this now. But there's tannin to support the fruit. And a light note of pepper. Fruity and lively. Not deep but lively and fresh. Juicy and yet persistent. Could be GV for the medium term. (JH) Drink 2022-2028
The 2017 Lacoste-Borie, the second wine of Grand-Puy-Lacoste, is plump, juicy and inviting. In other words, everything a second wine should be. The dark red and blue plum fruit is nicely pushed forward in this very pretty, supple Pauillac. Tasted two times.
This is bright, with extremely well-placed, juicy blue fruits with coffee touches, and a gorgeous sense of energy. It's a definite buy in this vintage, and should be great value. Technical director Christel Spinner has done a great job of delivering a focussed, finessed wine. I wouldn't wait too long to enjoy this, as it already has lots to enjoy. Harvested 15-29 September, yielding a fairly normal 49hl/ha, so we can safely say no frost here. Drinking Window 2022 - 2036
. Very bright, clean and focussed this is a superb expression of the site and there is no dilution or greenness here which means the wine is perfectly fruit-focussed while at the same time refreshing and crisp. There is an extra depth of complexity which emerges in the glass and this is very attractive indeed. A forward-drinking wine with charm and balance, this is a very successful 2017.
Lafite maintains its lofty seat amongst the great estates of Pauillac. Always high in Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 comprises 96% of the variety, which has clearly thrived in the conditions of the year. The quality of the tannins here is exquisite: integrated and mature, they afford the wine a restrained richness. The savoury, graphite scented fruit is poised, and the wine finishes with an effortless weight. As ever, patience will be required.
The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild had been blended in mid-March, a couple of weeks prior to my visit, therefore it was important to let this settle and aerate. Moreover, I returned on my final day in Bordeaux mid-April for a second reading. It feels very aloof at first, even a little green, although that ebbs away with time in the glass to reveal pure blackberry and bilberry fruit, touches of brine, cedar and graphite. Patience discloses a really quite sublime array of aromas. The palate is where all the action is: filigree tannin, very well judged acidity, harmonious and poised with a silky smooth finish that glides across the mouth. It does not possess enormous length but it is very precise and, for want of a better, less clichéd word, classic from start to finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2023 - 2050
Composed of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lafite Rothschild is a little shy on the nose to begin, opening out to scents of crushed blackcurrants, black cherries and warm black plums with touches of yeast extract, charcuterie, cigar box and fertile loam plus a hint of iron ore. POW—the paradoxically ethereal, medium-bodied palate hits you with vibrant, exhilarating black fruit and previously latent floral layers, supported with fantastic freshness and super fine-grained, pixelated tannins, finishing with persistent mineral and perfumed layers. Truly. Stunning.
Inky crimson. Dark, savoury black fruit, a little understated in aroma. On the palate, could do with just a little more flesh. It's balanced and not overdone on the tannins but not the standout first growth this year. Elegant but rather underwhelming, perhaps lacking the sweetness and mid-palate depth of Merlot. Tannins very fine. Fresh and really quite soft, textural finesse but rather understated fruit. Savoury graphite finish. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
This is very tight and tannic with lots of blackcurrant and sweet-tobacco character. Firm and powerful tannin texture sets this up for a long and chewy finish, yet it remains very compact and polished. It's a wine that possesses all the hallmarks of Lafite — everything from flavors to structure.
The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild is gorgeous. Silky, nuanced and polished, the 2017 captures all the finesse that makes Lafite such a vaunted property. Even in this unusual vintage, Lafite retains its super classic flavor profile, shape and personality. And that is one of the signatures of truly great sites. Like many of his colleagues, Technical Director Eric Kolher opted for gentle extractions and incorporated a relatively high amount of press wine (16%) into the blend. Those are merely details, though, because the 2017 Lafite is stellar. It also has the potential to be the most complete of the First Growths.
This is delicious, a real take-a-step-back moment. There's a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon here, complex and layered with cassis and bilberry notes that tease the attack before being filled out with charcoal, slate, cedar, and even truffle hints, even at this early stage. The finish just doesn't want to quit. It's effortless but questioning, and most importantly it feels like a Lafite - for me this is a contender for red wine of the vintage. Less intense than 2016, but still just beautiful. 40hl/ha yield, unaffected by frost, or maybe just one tiny corner. 99% new oak. 3.75pH. Drinking Window 2027 - 2045
This is a very quiet and closed Lafite, with tannin and oak blocking the entry. The fruit is compact, very long but gruffly uncommunicative and this is an infuriating wine to taste now. I waited a full half an hour in order to agitate this wine into conversation and it was still stubbornly refusing to cooperate. This is a lean, controlled, introverted wine, as Lafite often is, but it also hints at something fascinating behind the veneer, and I cannot quite get a glimpse of what there is hidden therein. It will blossom, as always, but I am not going to guess at just how demonstrative this vintage will be in the future because there is an outside chance that it will just continue on its current path, quietly evolving and making little fuss.
Lafon Rochet have welcomed the same team of pickers for the past 30 years, and more than most estates in the Médoc, this place really feels like a family business. Basile Tesseron decided to harvest a little later than some neighbours, and after a few early passes started in earnest from 20th September. Thanks to the coolness of sugar accumulation during the cloudy summer, this tastes anything but over-ripe. There is a lightness to the hedgerow fruit and a flow to the plush tannins. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon gives fresh structure and is expertly blended with the 34% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. It is a graceful example from this excellent value property.
The 2017 Lafon-Rochet has matured in 50% new oak and the remainder in one-year old. I have to say, the bouquet is very expressive with plenty of blackberry, wild hedgerow, oyster shell and pressed flower that blossom in the glass. It is very well defined and more sophisticated than I have detected in recent vintages. Perhaps this is the first vintage where the new winery, replete with concrete vats, has really played a serious role in meliorating quality. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit, quite saline in the mouth with just a hint of black olive. There is a slightly grainy texture with a sustained peppery finish, completing a crisp and vivacious Lafon-Rochet that should please many wine-lovers. Expect this to land at the top of my banded score. 2020 - 2040
Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Lafon-Rochet gives up subtle cassis and black cherry notes with hints of sautéed herbs, damp soil and pencil lead. Medium-bodied and slightly thin in the mouth, it has a well-played chewy texture and nice freshness, finishing with an herbal lift.
Tangy, almost salty, nose. Smooth, layered, very fine texture. Not hugely fruity but balanced with a long, elegant aftertaste following a relatively light mid palate. Longer than it is deep but attractive. (JH) Drink 2024-2032
Solid, ultra-clean 2017 with a very pretty core of fruit and chewy tannins. Flavorful and fresh. Extremely long and focused.
The 2017 Lafon-Rochet is wonderfully deep and fleshy, but in the mid-weight style that is typical of the year. Dark red and purplish fruit, lavender, licorice, spice and leather all flesh out in this attractive, if somewhat understated, wine from Lafon-Rochet. Silky tannins accompany the mid-weight finish nicely. The 2017 is a very pretty wine, although it is a touch light in this vintage. Tasted three times.
This is a lovely St-Estèphe this year, firm and bright with bristling fruit right out of the gate - hugely unusual to see that this year. This is one of my favourites, and is totally charming with its cassis and damson fruit, but it's the juice and friendly tension that sets it apart. Silky and enjoyable. Buy. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
Very impressive with a rich nose, deep fruit and a full finish, this is a powerful wine but nothing is forced and the oak and alcohol only serve to underpin the dark, inky fruit.
Ch Lagrange has produced a string of successful vintages in recent years, marking out this substantial estate as a consistent and good value source of quintessential St Julien. Unfortunately, it sustained significant losses in the April frost, but the 2017, reduced as it is in volume, retains the excellent balance of recent years. It has a sweet perfume of red berries and juicy Victoria plums. The texture of the palate is supple and unforced, with a creamy length.
The 2017 Lagrange was picked from 20 September until 4 October at 28hl/ha, the smallest since 1991, the Grand Vin matured in 50% new oak. The pH is around 3.6 and the alcohol around 13.3°. I found the bouquet missing the same cohesion as the 2014, 2015 and 2016 at this stage, a little light and missing the complexity that this property can produce. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, a little masculine in style compared to the 2016 with a noticeable saline influence. What is missing is the flair and weight of the best vintages of Lagrange can offer, a Saint-Julien somehow “distracted” by the frost that reconfigured the final blend and feels less assured. 2020 - 2030
The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lagrange is 100% Merlot and opens with a seriously plummy nose with a compelling undercurrent of spice cake, potpourri and chocolate box plus a waft of sage. Medium-bodied, taut and muscular with a rugged frame of chewy tannins and lively acid, it finishes with an energizing herbal lift.
Mid cherry red with bright red rim. Smells sweeter than the Gloria just tasted. A little charry on the palate but nicely balanced by the freshness. Moreish and mouth-watering, tannins already supple with a hint of that char on the finish. (JH) Drink 2024-2034
A 2017 with serious depth of fruit and firm tannins. Solid center palate. Fresh and long finish. Should come out nicely.
The 2017 Lagrange is wonderfully pliant, with creamy tannins and more than enough juiciness to make it extremely appealing, even in the early going. Ripe dark cherry, chocolate, new leather, licorice, cedar and dried herbs run through this super-expressive, inviting Saint-Julien. Tasted two times.
As always this is a powerfully oaky wine and in 2017 nothing has changed, but there is a lot of vibrant fruit here and some spice and char and it all seems to work. The total experience is rather flashy and modern, but this is not an issue. I would always love to see more of the fruit at this Château but in 2017 the various ingredients are in balance and I commend this effort.
One of the Haut-Médoc’s leading estates, La Lagune always produces a full bodied and deeply structured wine and 2017 is no exception. Full of brooding black fruits, this is a compact, intense style with good ageing potential.
The 2017 La Lagune was picked from 12 September until 30 September at 31hl/ha, matured in 50% new oak. It has a very clean and pure bouquet, quite floral in style, with scents of raspberry confit, crushed stone, a touch of mint and pressed flowers. This is precise and focused, one of the most refined bouquet that I have encountered on a La Lagune at this early stage. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly chalky tannin on the entry that presage a tensile, mineral-driven La Lagune. There is almost a flint-like element to this wine, like the nose, the palate extremely precise with a sustained Pauillac-inspired finish with pencil lead on the aftertaste. 2022 - 2036
The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 la Lagune has wonderful black raspberries, black cherries and mulberries scents with an earthy undercurrent and a waft of bay leaves. The palate is medium-bodied with lovely freshness, a soft texture and plenty of poise.
Deepest cherry red. Lots of peppery spice over the nicely dusty cassis aroma. That same dusty note on the palate, relatively lightweight in the middle but the tannins are extremely fine to keep it in balance. Fresh and persistent with a gently leafy finish. (JH) Drink 2022-2035
Slightly reductive and herbal at the moment, but shows a good concentration of fruit and relatively ripe tannins.
This has clear damson flesh to the fruit, a good plummy wine with an elegance and freshness to the tannins. It's good, linear with a precision that you don't find everywhere. This is still not quite at the 2015/16 level of completeness, but delivers from start to finish, and is a wine that should age well. It has a 2001 type of elegance and lift with a tension to the tannins that gives confidence in its ageing ability. Now certified organic, in conversion for biodynamics. Drinking Window 2035 - 2038
The signature of Cabernet is becoming more and more dominant every year in this sophisticated wine. It is superbly suave with perfectly balanced oak and the tannins are super-clean and refreshing. Lifted, bright and clean, the length rolls on discreetly to a honed finish.
A single estate in its own right, this Cru Bourgeois is owned and managed by the Ducru Beaucaillou team. This 2017 has a high proportion of Merlot (66%) with 34% of Cabernet Sauvignon completing the blend. The attack is of plums and fresh figs, with a touch of graphite underneath. Not a powerful wine, but with a hint of sweetness in the mid-palate, this has an easy and approachable style.
The 2017 Lalande-Borie, which was created by Jean-Eugène Borie in 1970, is matured in 30% new oak for 12 months. It has a well-defined bouquet with slightly broody dark fruit that need some encouragement from the glass. Here there is a majority of red rather than black fruit, complemented by bay leaf and a touch of truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, crisp acidity, very focused with tangible mineralité that surfaces on the final third of the wine. Good potential. I like the sapid nature of this wine and it should drink well over the next decade. 2020 - 2030
Bruno Borie mentioned that there was a little frost on the western part of Saint-Julien here. A blend of 66% Merlot and 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, the medium garnet-purple colored 2017 Lalande-Borie has a beautiful nose of red roses, dusty soil and powdered cinnamon with a core of red currants, black cherries and kirsch plus a touch of warm plums. The palate is medium-bodied with a chewy frame and lively backbone supporting the muscular fruit, finishing savory and with great persistence. To be aged for 12 months in barrel, in one-third new oak.
Deep crimson. Lifted cherry fruit overlaid with oak sweetness. Juicy fruit with just a slight bitterness as if the extraction was slightly hard, but nice fruit in the middle. Really juicy on the finish and the tannins are fine and add to the length. Good freshness. (JH) Drink 2023-2030
A firm and tight center palate with dark berry, currant, and mint character. Full body, layered and flavorful. Shows a solid mid-palate.
50% frost here, but the wine seems remarkably unscathed. They harvested the second generation fruit, but didn't use it in the blend, which is in fact the same as usual but just in lesser quantities. The result is a soft but well-rounded and finessed wine with black cherry fruit and charcoal and vanilla bean notes. A good job here - an early drinking pleasure. 3.75pH. 30% new oak. Drinking Window 2022 - 2032
This wine was hit hard by the frost, losing 50% of the crop. Interestingly, this is a very well balanced wine and they were forced to harvest Cabernet a few days early on account of rain. Had they waited, they would have lost the freshness but gained maturity and this would have been a shame because rain has, seemingly, helped this wine. The tannins are a little dry, but this will allow the wine to mature at an even pace.
The 2017 Lanessan has a mixture of red and black fruit on the nose, nicely detailed with a slight mineral note that develops with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with more flesh than its peers, especially in the middle as it gains weight with blackberry, raspberry and light cedar notes. It tapers back towards the second half but overall, this is a very respectable Lanessan for the vintage. 2021 - 2032
The 2017 Lanessan is deep garnet-purple in color with a nose of cassis, black cherries and tilled soil with hints of black pepper and bay leaves. The palate is medium-bodied, firm and lively in the mouth with just enough fruit and a chewy finish.
A tight and vibrant Haut-Medoc with plenty of acidity, fine tannins and a fresh finish. Shows a good backbone.
This is a solid and workmanlike Lanessan and it doesn’t push too hard in any direction, preferring to stay on the path and that it a good decision in a vintage like this one. The fruit is honest and balanced and the finish is not too closed either.
54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, this is a classical blend for the estate. The sister property to Ch Léoville Barton is another success in 2017. At a moderate 13% abv there is a density to the dark fruit with hints of dark soaked raisins and notes of toasty spice. The tannins are robust but not overpowering. This is another terrific Langoa Barton.
The 2017 Langoa Barton was picked from 15 to 18 September with respect to the Merlot and from 22 to 29 September for the Cabernets, matured in 60% new oak. It has a ripe, brine-tinged bouquet, not complex compared to previous vintages, but pure and developing light smoke and truffle scents with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with quite sharp tannin to create a tensile Langoa-Barton, saline with moderate depth, just a touch of pencil lead that surfaces towards the finish. It is exactly what I expected, which is a good thing given the track record of this Saint-Julien. 2021 - 2040
Healthy cherry red. Inviting and elegant dark-fruit aroma with just a light char. Here, after several left-bank wines that lacked enough fruit depth in the middle, is one that has weight and depth on the mid palate that gives a rounded, fresh and complete wine. Succulent, juicy and well-structured for the longer term but still elegant. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
This is very solid and tannic with a beautiful core of blueberries, blackcurrants and other blue fruits. Crushed stones, to boot. Full body and a flavorful finish. Serious for the vintage.
The 2017 Langoa Barton is absolutely gorgeous. A wine of unusual depth and richness for the year, Langoa Barton is creamy, pliant and incredibly inviting. Super-ripe red and blue fruits, new leather, and dried flowers fill out the wine's frame effortlessly. The blend is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. In 2017, Langoa Barton is a lovely under the radar gem. Don't miss it. Tasted two times.
There is no doubt that this offers a good expression of the appellation in the medium to long term, but there's a slightly wider gap between Léoville and Langoa this year - the first time I've felt that in several years, and perhaps a reflection of the slightly cooler terroir here. It's impressively structured and well held together, with black fruits which aren't as concentrated as the estate has displayed in the previous two vintages, but it displays an innate St-Julien elegance. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
A lovely Langoa with a come hither nose and a succulent palate, this is a juicy, medium-weight, civilised wine with some cranberry and cherry notes and a smooth, cultured, seemingly forward finish. This is a typical Langoa, which shows the generosity of this property and its philosophy and I think it will drink very well young but baffle people with its ability to hold.
Ch Léoville Barton has continued its winning streak after a fabulous 2016. This 2017 is one of the most muscular and fleshy of the St Juliens, and shows supreme integration of blackberry fruit richness and structural oak. There is a great energy to this wine, which has a punchy density to its weight and a peppery length.
The 2017 Léoville Barton has a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon this year at 93%, the remainder is Merlot. It was picked between 15 and 18 September for the Merlot and 22 to 29 September for the Cabernet Sauvignon, then aged in 60% new oak. It has a perfumed and pure bouquet that demonstrates a little more cohesion and refinement than some of its Saint-Julien peers. Blackberry and touches of bilberry fruit, cedar and crushed stone – this is a knockout nose with bags of potential. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin, perfectly pitched acidity and beautifully integrated oak. Seriously, this is nudging (not equaling, nudging!) the 2016 in terms of quality and there are just a handful of properties where I can state that this year. 2022 - 2045
The 2017 Leoville Barton is deep garnet-purple in color with a nose of warm cassis, fresh blackberries and blueberries with hints of violets, dark chocolate and licorice. Medium-bodied with a rock-solid frame of grainy tannins and wonderful freshness, it gives a fantastic core of fruit and wonderful length.
Deepest crimson. Dark, savoury and spicy black fruit with a lovely balsamic note but also a light vanilla sweetness and a more subdued graphite layer. Complex already. On the palate, this is succulent, firm but polished. Tannins are very fine, definite. A harmonious whole and a juicy finish. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
This is a really excellent Leoville-Barton with wonderful cabernet sauvignon character of blackberries, blackcurrants and flowers. Full body, firm and lightly chewy tannins and a long and beautiful finish. This has tension and brightness.
One of the few truly exceptional Left Bank wines of the vintage, the 2017 Léoville-Barton is simply fabulous. The 2017 also has the distinction of having a very high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky crème de cassis, white flowers, lavender, crushed rocks, menthol and spice give the 2017 a distinctly layered, resonant feel. The 2017 offers fabulous density and structure, although the tannins need time. The blend is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot. The September rains were especially challenging for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc. As a result, Cabernet is pushed up in the blend, while there is no Franc at all. Tasted two times.
This has a stronger, tighter and more concentrated expression in this vintage than its sister property, although it's not as concentrated as its last few vintages. It's back to a more old school expression for the appellation, suiting the vintage, and it's one of the better-framed wines on display here. Good quality, with ground coffee, dark chocolate and tight cassis notes, all subtly and harmoniously put together. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
Rather more structured than Langoa, as usual, but also a little more feisty, dense and rather more tannic and active on the palate, too. There is the traditional cassis theme and the tannins and oak are not dominant, allowing the fruit to expand and develop during the experience. There is some tension with the tannins but they do not shut the wine down as I have seen in other properties. I expect it to age slowly and incrementally, waiting some time before it softens - perhaps a decade or more.
Arguably the greatest of the second growths, Las Cases often nudges into first growth territory for its quality and longevity. The wine has a deep purple colour, with aromas of dark cherries and graphite on the nose. There is cool, steely control underneath the fine, exquisite tannins, and a savoury salinity in its length. Tightly wound in its youth, this wine is a marriage of power, elegance, and complexity.
The 2017 Léoville Las-Cases was picked between 15 September and 4 October, cropped at 37hl/ha and as usual, comes from the oldest vines that average around 50-years old. This year there is 13.28° alcohol. It is matured in 90% new oak and contains 7.5% vin de presse. It has a very clean and precise bouquet with blackberry, just a touch of blueberry, violet and a hint of bay leaf. This gains intensity with aeration but it is not as detailed as last year’s 2016. The palate is medium-bodied with more supple tannins than usual (that word is apt – there is nothing “soft” about this Saint-Julien). It has great depth with layers of black fruit laced with graphite and a pinch of white pepper, whilst it delivers fine salinity on the sappy finish. Excellent. 2022 - 2050
The 2017 Léoville Las Cases, a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon with 11% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot from 50- to 90-year-old vines, is deep garnet-purple in color and simply sings of crushed blackcurrants, wild blueberries and plum preserves with notions of wood smoke, cigar boxes, crushed rocks and beef drippings. Medium-bodied with wonderful intensity and vivacity, it gives a firm, fine-grained frame and a densely packed mid-palate, finishing long and earthy. This should age incredibly!
Very dark with black core. This invites you in but doesn't say much in terms of aroma. It is dark, intense and sober at heart but with flashes of colour to suggest a future revelation. Super-fine texture, so much finer than I remember earlier vintages, especially at this young age. Seems almost delicate already but has amazing and effortless concentration. Already elegant. And unexpectedly juicy on the finish. Very very long. Fruit purity persists to the end. (JH) Drink 2027-2045
This is very muscular with formed and bright tannins that give the wine super drive and length. The tannins build on the finish with a lovely integration of black fruits. Serious for the vintage.
The 2017 Léoville Las Cases is remarkably elegant and polished for this typically brutish Saint-Julien. Persistence more than power is the key element that distinguishes the 2017 from most other vintages and most other Saint-Juliens as well. The classic Las Cases flavor profile is very much in evidence, but in a wine that is silky, nuanced and exceptionally polished. In 2017, Las Cases is truly magical, and one of the most complete wines of the Left Bank. In a word: sublime. Don't miss it. Tasted two times.
One of the very few wines in this vintage that truly stains the glass with its wonderfully vibrant anthocyanins. This is an exceptional wine - Léoville just knows how to knock it out of the park again and again. An early vintage meant everything was blended and in barrels before Christmas, with 7.5% press wine, so this has had some time to settle down already. There's huge persistency through the palate, very similar to last year. It has presence and a grip that doesn't want to let go, and you don't want it to either. It continues to reveal itself over the course of the glass, showing slate, cassis, blackberry and charcoal. It's not as powerfully knitted as the 2016, but watch out for those tannins. I expect this will be a wine that, like the 1996 and 2016, will close down and evolve extremely slowly. Stunning aromatics. 90% new oak. 3.72pH. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
A song to Cabernet Sauvignon and this time, Cabernet Franc is the main backing singer. The density of fruit is superb and yet there is a depth and a power here, without necessarily being heavy, which is superb. The oak is lovely, adding a layer of complexity which doesn’t interfere with the fruit. Long and supple and not seemingly a wine which requires decades to get going, this is a stunning and fruit-driven Las Cases.
This was an absolute beauty at the UGC tasting, full of gorgeous fruit. Poyferré has a reputation for being slightly less powerful than its neighbour Barton, but it is always a wine of joy and charm. The 2017 ticks all the boxes. Beautifully perfumed aromas of violets and blueberries, this is a rich, succulent, juicy wine, with wonderfully polished tannins. Very generous in style, a delightful crowd-pleaser.
The 2017 Léoville Poyferré was cropped at around 50hl/ha between 20 September and 6 October at 44hl/ha. It has a gorgeous bouquet that is very pure with scents of black cherry, cassis, cedar and a touch of graphite, all very focused and neatly entwined with the 85% new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, crisp and focused, very harmonious with a touch of cedar and black pepper towards the finish. I appreciate the combination of weight and finesse here, a really quite enthralling valedictory Léoville Poyferré who is due to retire this coming July. Bon vin. 2021 - 2040
The 2017 Léoville Poyferré is very deep purple-black in color with super intense notes of freshly crushed blackcurrants, wild blueberries and Sichuan pepper with hints of lavender, baking spices and wood smoke. The palate is medium-bodied, firm and grainy with restrained, understated fruit and a long, mineral-laced finish.
Very dark crimson with black core. Gorgeous cassis intensity and purity on the nose and just a hint of oak sweetness and spice. Firm but really supple tannins, compact and deep but with a lightness of touch to let the fruit flow first. Mouth-watering and super-fresh. Long. (JH) Drink 2027-2042
Very tight and energetic finish to this young, new red with currant and blackberry character. Hints of crushed stones. Dense and four-square with a chewy tannin structure and a long finish. Very muscular. Serious encore to the 2016. Same level?
The 2017 Léoville-Poyferré boasts serious depth and concentration within the context of the year. Bright and floral, with beautifully layered fruit, the 2017 is at once gracious and powerful. Raspberry jam, chocolate, new leather and spice all flesh out in this decidedly exuberant, fleshy Saint-Julien. Many 2017s are quite open, but Léoville-Poyferré is quite reticent. Some of that may be attributable to high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in a blend composed of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Because of the late season rains, only 3 out of the 5 parcels that typically inform the Grand Vin were used. Tasted two times.
This has lower alcohol than usual, but doesn't sacrifice the mouthfeel. There's a succulent damson and cappuccino expression through the finish here, along with tautly constructed, bouncy tannins that are both expressive and powerful. It's one of the more rich and round wines in St-Juliens, as fits the house style. Extremely accomplished, it's powerful and will clearly age well. It's somewhere between 2014 and 2015 in quality, but not touching the majestic 2016. A success in the vintage, underlining again that St-Julien has had an extremely lucky 2017. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
Very attractive on the nose and palate, this is an indulgent wine with depth and succulence. The oak is fairly dominant and there is some dark extraction here, but there is no astringency. Fondant fruit and chocolate tones make this seem very forward but this is not the case because the tannins are powdery and persistent and they roll on for minutes. This is a superb wine with flair and control in equal measure.
This Lynch deserves special attention; it was one of the most exciting wines we tasted all week. The texture of its tannins is distinctly layered: silky and fine, they build in momentum. Accompanying these are elegant aromatics of violets and dark berries, with a concentration of inky cassis fruit and a creamy freshness on the palate. It is a highlight of the vintage, and once again far outpaces its fifth growth classification.
The 2017 Lynch Bages was picked from 18 September with the young Merlot vines and finishing on 30 September. It was cropped at around 50hl/ha. It is aged in 75% new oak for 18 months. It offers good intensity on the nose, not as precise or as mineral-driven as the 2016 last year, with cedar and pencil shaving infusing the black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, very refined, a touch of white pepper and cedar with impressive depth on the finish. This will be an approachable Lynch Bages, probably pre-destined to be overshadowed by the magnificent (if nascent) 2016 but it will certainly give 20 to 25 years of drinking pleasure. Tasted four times with consistent notes. 2022 - 2042
Deepest crimson. Lovely classic aroma of cassis and graphite with an attractive dusty/mineral overlay. Deep and still elegant, with refined dark fruit, super-fine tannins and a long harmonious finish. Shapely and elegant. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
This is an excellent Lynch that starts off slowly and then drives at the end with dark fruit and hints of hazelnuts. Strong and focused tannins. A beautiful young wine.
The 2017 Lynch-Bages is a wine of impeccable balance and class. Deep, fleshy and inviting, the 2017 should be ready to deliver pleasure with minimal cellaring. All of the Lynch-Bages signatures come through in a very pretty, deceptively medium-bodied wine loaded with personality. Lynch-Bages is never a huge wine, but like most of his colleagues, proprietor Jean-Michel Cazes opted for especially delicate extractions.
They've had their foot on the extraction pedal here, but the extremely dark fruit has great finesse. It is broad-shouldered and savoury-edged, and each time I tasted this wine it seemed a little richer and more complete, over-delivering for the year. This is going to age extremely well. 2% Petit Verdot makes up the blend. 75% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
A stunning nose which combines density and also exuberance, this is a lovely if full wine with bold richness and also length and complexity. The detail is superb and there is impressive control on the finish, too. Superb.
Ch Margaux escaped the worst that the frost brought, reporting a loss of only 10%. Given the frost and the September rain that threatened to dash the vintage, Thibault Pontallier remarked on the team’s astonishment when they first tasted the wine after fermentation. Thanks to the warm spell at the end of September, he explained they have made a much better wine in 2017 than anticipated. He likened it to 1996: not an easy vintage, but one that produced a sublime wine. 2017’s velvet-like tannins support the aromatic fruit and soft creamy texture of the wine. It has freshness, charm and perfume, but still retains density and richness on the palate reminding you of its First Growth status. Against the odds, this is a hugely successful Ch Margaux, and one of the finest wines of the vintage.
The 2017 Margaux, matured in 100% new oak, was blended in the second half of February. It has a very pure, floral bouquet with scents of iris and violet infusing the black and subtle blue fruit. There are touches of crushed stone and with aeration, a little candied orange peel. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin, very harmonious in the mouth, caressing and sensual with black fruit, hints of graphite and a light marine influence. There is a fine build to this Château Margaux, commencing almost understated but finishing with an insistent grip and a long, quite spicy aftertaste. It's not the bewitching 2015 however, it purrs like a Rolls Royce and will age with panache. 2023 - 2045
A blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Château Margaux charges from the gate with opulent kirsch, raspberry preserves, wild blueberries and cassis notions accented by roses, violets, Chinese five spice and fragrant earth with touches of underbrush and truffles. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with vibrant, ripe red and blue fruits, layering in perfume and spice nuances. It's framed by very finely grained and plush yet firm tannins and great tension, finishing with epic length.
Deep glowing crimson. Pure, very dark cassis fruit. Fragrant and lightly floral too. And the fruit smells sweet, the oak so subtle. Intense without being flamboyant. Firm, smooth, chocolate-textured. Creamy and rich and supple on the long finish. Depth of fruit, both red and black on the mid palate. Well sustained.The tannins are powerful but hidden by the lovely fruit. Succulent even though well structured. (JH) 13.5% Drink 2027-2042
This is a very dense Margaux, and especially for the vintage, with a full body, grainy tannins and a long and rich finish. Impressive depth of fruit and structure. Luscious and muscular at the same time.
The 2017 Margaux is one of the highlights on the Left Bank. Surprisingly powerful and virile, the Grand Vin clearly reflects the influence of a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Beams of tannin give the wine support through the mid-palate and into the finish. Estate Manager Sebastian Vergne told me the winemaking team opted to raise temperatures at the end of fermentation to gain a bit more color, depth and polymerization of tannins. The Grand Vin represents 37% of the estate's production.
Wow! This makes the whole room smile. The stunning nose hits you right off the bat, followed by wonderful fleshy damson fruit. This has some of the best aromatics in the business this year and a wonderful creamy texture through the palate. There's great density, and the tannins flatter it but they have menace and intent too, pulling the structure inwards and bouncing along to finish beautifully. This is more opulent than the Pavillon, which has some clear austerity, and the scale of the fruit is a little fresher than the 2015, with around the same ripeness level as the 2016. The 3.7pH is a little higher than the last two years, while an IPT of 73 is the same as last year. 37% of production went into the grand vin, including a 1% drop of Petit Verdot. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
After the dark bottle, which was used for the 2015 vintage, they have decided to continue with this bottle for all three wines including the white wine. This is a very dense and very focussed Margaux, with intense fruit and dark, mineral- soaked, graphite-tinged wine. The weight is so fresh and so bright it is incredible. This is not a big wine but it is very powerful.
Marquis de Terme is not a regular feature in our en primeur offers, but we were really impressed with this wine. Deep opaque colour, this is a very giving style with fleshy, juicy dark fruits in the palate. The tannins sit comfortably under the breadth of sweet fruit and make for a tremendously appealing style.
The 2017 Marquis de Terme has a clean, conservative, slightly tertiary bouquet with touches of black truffle and smoke. It just needs a little more energy. The palate is medium-bodied with fine definition, quite focused and poised, albeit missing the depth of the previous two vintages. I noticed a lick of dark mocha appearing towards the finish that just blurs its definition. It is quite an easy-drinking Marquis de Termes to enjoy over the next 10 to 12 years. 2020 - 2035
The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Marquis de Terme offers delicate raspberry tart and blackberry pie notions with hints of potpourri, baking spices and dusty soil. Medium-bodied with a velvety texture and just enough red and black fruits in the mouth, it finishes on an earthy note.
Very dark. Intense blackcurrant-pastille aroma with some vanilla sweetness. A little chalky on the palate, rather delicate but fresh and balanced. The tannins light and dry. (JH) 13.5% Drink 2023-2032
Solid Margaux for the vintage with currant and berry character. Medium to full body and a juicy finish. Mineral and dark-chocolate undertones.
The 2017 Marquis de Terme is wonderfully deep, fleshy and seductive. A wine of real charm, the 2017 possesses striking depth and nuance. Black cherry, plum, licorice, menthol and chocolate are all fused together in this decidedly racy, succulent Margaux. The 2017 was super-polished and exceptionally beautiful both times I tasted it. In a word: terrific.
This is almost caramel on the nose, with a clear damson sweetness in the mouth along with dark cassis notes that add some welcome acidity. It shows good cohesiveness and is rich, dark and concentrated. The oak is used liberally but effectively. It may close down fairly tightly for the next six to eight years, but there is good potential here. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Every year when we taste the Clarence Dillon wines, our big conundrum is which do we think is best, La Mission and Haut Brion. As is so often the case, it was a split decision this year, but I loved La Mission! Shining bright purple colour, this is full of bramble fruits on the nose. This beautifully poised and balanced wine blends an initial richness and sweetness with subtly layered tannins providing complexity and nuance. A total charmer and everything I look for in La Mission: subtle exuberance with gravelly structure. Unquestionably one of the stand-out wines of the vintage.
The 2017 La Mission Haut-Brion was picked from 4 to 29 September and matured in 68% new oak with 14.1° alcohol. It has a more broody bouquet than previous years: dark berry fruit, brown spices, warm gravel and later, a touch of orange rind. This can sometimes be sultry out of barrel and the 2017 falls into that category. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. This La Mission Haut-Brion is built around a wonderful structure and symmetry. It feels precise with a detailed, saline finish that lingers in the mouth. I can see Jean-Philippe Delmas’s comparison with the 2001 though I find the tannins finer in the 2017. Superb. 2023 - 2050
The 2017 La Mission Haut-Brion, blended of 56% Merlot, 39.6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.4% Cabernet Franc, is very deep garnet-purple in color and scented of crushed blackcurrants, blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with suggestions of cigar box, bay leaves, Indian spices and dusty soil. Medium to full-bodied with very firm, grainy tannins and a racy backbone supporting the taut, muscular fruit, it has bags of mineral and earthy suggestions layering the very long finish.
Deep cassis colour. Gorgeous restraint of fine dusty dark fruit. Definite graphite/mineral aroma undergirded by fragrant cassis and a light herbaceous note. Delicious pure black fruit, super-fine texture, the tannins fine and supple. Juicy even with its serious elegance. Succulent, long and precisely balanced. Persistent, too. Intensity without weight. All waiting in the wings. On second tasting, the oak shows a little more on the finish but it is in place, not dominating. (JH) 14.1% Drink 2027-204
This is a very tight and focused young La Mission with a pretty center palate of dark fruit and flavors of oyster shell and hints of fresh tobacco. Serious and precise on the finish. 56% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon and 4% cabernet franc.
The 2017 La Mission Haut-Brion is a wine of total finesse and class. Pliant and expressive, the 2017 is beautifully layered from start to finish. Bright red cherry, plum, mocha, pomegranate and blood orange all add to an impression of grace and freshness. This is one of the most refined, understated recent vintages of La Mission I can remember tasting.
When I picked up the glass, I said under my breath, ‘this is heavier’, and it is – cue much mirth. The statistics above prove this and the colour is much darker than the second wine, but the real clue comes from the nose, which is dense, foresty, spicy and unyielding. The graphite tones are riveting and the tannins are powerful and upright. A long-lived wine with obvious structure and density, this is a quite different style to La Chapelle, which has clearly taken all of the red-fruited material and left the dense and bold grapes for this wine. Do not approach it for a decade, because there is both graininess and also dryness here, which creeps forward on the palate and you must let it retire right the way back to the finish to achieve balance. This is undoubtedly a remarkable wine and one which sits a little outside of the vintage. The only real clue to its year is the devastating acidity which brings shocking drama to the whole. Along with its stablemate, this is one of the wines of the vintage.
Côtes de Castillon is one of the better-known satellite appellations of St Emilion, and with good reason. This excellent property from Denis Durantou’s stable reliably produces attractive Merlot-based wines (75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon). Its tannins are mouth-coating in their extreme youth, and it may need a few years to come around, but this has the fruit concentration and savoury structure to evolve with the style of previous vintages.
The 2017 Montlandrie was picked from 13 to 28 September. It boasts an utterly charming bouquet with blackberry, raspberry and just a hint of crushed violet. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, dark fruit but fresh and lively, very precise with a welcome dash of black pepper towards the graphite-tinged finish. Denis Durantou described this as one of his favorite wines of 2017 and I can understand why. 2021 - 2035
A blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Montlandrie gives up notes of crushed black plums, red currants and black cherries with suggestions of cigar box, yeast extract, tapenade and underbrush. Medium-bodied with a solid backbone of firm, grainy tannins, it has beautiful freshness and a mineral-tinged finish.
This is very minerally with crushed stones and dark fruit. Medium body and tight and firm tannins. Excellent.
This has great aromatics right off the bat and a creaminess to the fruit. Yet there’s still freshness delivered by menthol notes on the finish, along with tight spices. This is a young Cabernet Sauvignon that is already pulling its weight. Firm, bright, with real finesse and confidence. Good for medium-term drinking. No frost here, which makes winemaker Denis Durantou very lucky as some parts of Castillon were pretty badly hit. Merlot picked 20-26 September, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon September 28. Production this year expected to be 43,000 bottles, 40% new oak used. Drinking Window 2022 - 2032
Denis thinks that this vintage is even finer than his impressive 2016. There is serious density of flavour here and the tannins are rich and fondant with invigorating energy and power. The fruit is black and luxurious and the finish is long. This is a wine with real attitude and it will be one of the longer-lived examples on the Right Bank. It ought to offer superb value for money, too.
Alongside Cos, this is a king amongst St Estèphe estates. At 76% cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 has the highest proportion of this variety in the blend since 2006. The estate is building a new winery, and now has 90 tanks at its disposal to vinify individual plots. The dexterity in the cellar rewards in the glass; this is dense, dark and structured, with great purity and precision. There is a fine balance between silky fruit and a fresh, salty, toasty length with a touch of vanilla spice. The chalky tannins give it a long, elegant finish. This was the high point of the appellation.
The 2017 Montrose represents 37% of the total production this year and it was cropped at around 45hl/ha. It has a little more volume and intensity compared to the Cos d’Estournel that was tasted immediately prior to my visit. Blackberry, raspberry, cedar and pressed flowers bloom in the glass, though there is a noticeable change with aeration after 20 minutes – hints of juniper and bay leaf, rendering a more nuanced and complex array of aromatics. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin and it feels a little chalky in the mouth, yet also tensile and certainly extremely focused. There is already a palpable sense of energy in situ, well structured and vivid, though not as complex or as nuanced as the 2016 Montrose on the finish since the growing season forbade that. I appreciate the pastille-like purity on the aftertaste and the potent tang of cracked black pepper and graphite that hang around for 45 seconds after the wine has departed. It is a fine, very classic Montrose and I suspect more approachable than those of yesteryear. Tasted twice at the château. 2022 - 2045
The 2017 Montrose is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is a little closed at first, but with coaxing, it opens to reveal remarkable earth and exotic spice notes of crushed rocks, black truffles, star anise, cassia and fenugreek over a core of crème de cassis, blackberry preserves, violets and blueberry pie with touches of cigar box, charcuterie and black soil. Medium-bodied with a rock-solid frame and an exquisitely ripe, very fine-grained texture, it has wonderful freshness with electric energy and a very long, minerally finish. Possessing great poise and intensity, this is one of the greatest Montrose's I have tasted!
Deep crimson. Sober but intense black fruit. On the palate, elegant and attractive dusty character, incredibly fine tannins, so supple, refined, juicy and long. Not opulent but not at all dry. Should have a long drinking window. (JH) Drink 2025-2045
This is pure and tight with gorgeous cabernet sauvignon character of blackcurrants, blueberries and crushed stones. Full-bodied, yet compacted and polished. It shows a long and beautiful tannin texture at the end. Just rolls off the palate.
The 2017 Montrose is wonderfully polished and nuanced. Silky tannins and mid-weight structure confer finesse to a Montrose that possesses superb harmony from start to finish. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. In 2017, the Grand Vin (35% of the production) is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Because of the late season rains, Montrose has more Cabernet Sauvignon than is typically the case. The winemaking team opted for a large number of smaller-lot vinifications (82 instead of 50-ish, to be exact), in order to optimize picks according to ripeness. Although alcohol alone can never tell the whole story of a wine, at 13.5% alcohol, Montrose has a very attractive freshness to it. The Grand Vin represents about 37% of the chateau's production. The 2017 is all class.
This has more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend this year, the highest level since 2006, because the Merlot didn't quite make it through the September rains unscathed. The wine is correspondingly powerful with a robust accompanying acidity that promises a long life. The fruit character is savoury, succulent and extremely persistent, with fleshy blackberry alongside touches of redcurrant and a pulsating freshness that keeps on coming. Harvested 12-29 September with twelve days spent actually picking, compared to sixteen days over the last few years, with more hands on deck. They have never been affected by frost, as far as they can remember, and 2017 was no exception. The wind is always such a benefit here. A normal yield of 45hl/ha, 37% of which was for the grand vin. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
Very commanding and linear on the nose, this is a focussed and direct wine with masses of intent and it takes no prisoners on the nose and palate. There is a chiselled feel to Montrose with enormous length and determination and no trace of fat or glycerol to be found on its lean, taut frame. It is interesting to see here what happens when there is no disease pressure, no particular hydric stress and also a dry and temperate summer. The organic viticulture at this Château allows the soils to express themselves fully through the vines and so this is perhaps one of the most ‘naked’ and unadorned Montrose vintages in a long time. It will mature slowly and always retain a degree of drama and minerality, reflecting its elevated position in Saint-Estèphe.
Ch Moulin St Georges has to be one of St Emilion’s most consistent Grands Crus. Every year it delivers typicity and quality. This is a classic blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. Shining purple colour, it brims with sweet, ripe fruit. Full of charm and a pleasing intensity of plum and cassis flavours. Subtle, rich and rewarding.
The 2017 Moulin Saint-Georges was picked on 26 and 29 September. It has a pretty black cherry and cassis-tinged bouquet, a little tight at the moment, a tad pinched compared to previous vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannin, dark berry fruit tinged with brown spices, cohesive towards the finish but it just needs to muster more complexity overall. This year, I much prefer Vauthiers’ La Clotte. 2021 - 2032
The 2017 Moulin St Georges is medium garnet-purple in color with lovely notes of red currants, black cherries, black raspberries and allspice with touches of roses and garrigue. Medium-bodied with a solid backbone of grainy tannins and wonderful freshness, it finishes long.
Deep cherry red. Spicy, lively blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Lots of sweet fruit and sweet oak on the palate. Juicy fruit in the middle. Bright and lively. Just a little too sweet-tasting for refreshment (hence the minus). Tannins a touch chewy but not at all tough. (JH) Drink 2022-2028
The dark-berry and wet-earth character is pretty. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a fresh finish. Solid acidity.
The 2017 Moulin Saint-Georges is gorgeous. Pliant, open-knit and seductive, the 2017 offers lovely depth in its inky blue/purplish fruit and floral notes. Silky tannins add to the wine's inviting personality. This supple, juicy Saint-Émilion from the Vauthier family will drink well upon release. Best of all, it should be a terrific value.
There is a very deep and pure nose here of purple fruit and the oak element remains calmly in the background. The palate is quite sharp and mouth-watering with acid underpinning the fruit and while lengthening the wine it also adds an air of severity to the whole. Oak is present on the finish and it comes in with spice as opposed to woody notes. This is a calm, long, tense wine which will age slowly and evenly.
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The winemaking team here made the most of the drawn out four week harvesting period in September to select the very best fruit for the Grand Vin. A wine true to the Mouton mould, deep garnet in colour, it has a joyous, open aroma of luscious, dark, wild fruits. The palate is broad, coating the mouth with flavours of cocoa, Arabian spices and fresh coffee beans. A full and generous style, with a lovely Pauillac drive and tannic edge, finishing beautifully bright and fresh.
The 2017 Mouton-Rothschild was picked from 7 to 29 September and matured in 100% new oak. This First Growth is driven by the Cabernet Sauvignon, as you would expect given the high percentage, expressive pencil lead and cedar that infuse the slightly introspective black fruit. Dare I say that it actually reminds me of Latour in style? The palate is medium-bodied, finely tuned and precise, a more masculine Mouton-Rothschild compared to the last three vintages, fresh with a sustained, lightly spiced finish that lingers in the mouth. That backbone is accentuated more during my second visit in mid-April. It is a cliché but this Mouton-Rothschild is unashamedly “classic” in style, perchance “le petit frère” of the 2010 Mouton-Rothschild that also contained a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon (though before you search the archives, yes, the 2011 and 2012 contained the same proportion!) Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2022 - 2050
The 2017 Mouton Rothschild has one of the highest percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon ever at 90%, with 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is already singing of crushed black currants, warm blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of violets, star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves plus wafts of pencil lead and unsmoked cigars. Medium-bodied, wonderfully delicate yet intense in the mouth (gaining some richness in the mid-palate on my second taste two and a half weeks later), it has super fine-grained, smooth tannins and incredible freshness, finishing very long with tons of tightly wound layers. Wow. This vintage is going to be very long-lived in the cellar!
Healthy, glowing deep crimson with soft cherry rim. Rocky/smoky cassis lift to the aroma. Fragrant with sober and non-exotic fruit. Serious. Super-fine texture, appears gentle but is very persistent, so fresh and effortless and yet intense and long. Refined and accessible but long term too. (JH) Drink 2027-2047
This is a very shy and tight Mouton with blackberries, blackcurrants and hints of terracotta. Full body and very integrated tannins that are extremely polished and beautiful. Spicy and white-pepper finish. Sexy and exciting. So long and refined.
The 2017 Mouton Rothschild is a powerful wine for the year, probably because of the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Dense and closed in on itself, the 2017 is likely going to require quite a bit of time to soften. Raspberry jam, pomegranate and blood orange add lift and perfume with time in the glass. There is quite a bit of energy and brightness in the 2017, but not as much immediacy as is common for the vintage. That may ultimately turn out to be a positive for the wine's long term prospects. The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. "After the frost, which did not really affect us, the major challenge in 2017 was heat stress," Mouton Technical Director Philippe Dhalluin told me. "We had no rain until the end of June. Then, in September, when we needed a bit of rain again, we got more than double what would have been optimal. The September rain affected the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while the Cabernet Sauvignon was able to take advantage of the last 15 days of the growing season, which were much more favorable. In the cellar, we opted for longer macerations at lower temperatures, as we wanted to avoid extracting the type of hard tannins that mark other vintages with very dry summers, such as 2011."
Vibrancy is one of the key themes of the year in the most successful properties, and this has bright, plump fruit and good depth of colour, even if it's less concentrated than the past few vintages. The Pauillac first growths have done a great job in 2017, and it's hard to question the depth of fruit and richness here - there's no doubting that this is a great Mouton. Cassis and blackberry notes are delivered with precision, but there is a clear restraint that is another signature of 2017, and perhaps doesn't reflect Mouton's personality as much as some of its neighbours. There's not the same weight of tannins as 2016 (around 70 IPT this year, still a high amount), but it's a beautiful, persistent, gorgeous wine that will age gracefully. 100% new oak. (Image is the 2015 bottle; the design for the 2017 label will be revealed later). Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
Considering the dominance of Cabernet in this wine the nose is surprisingly fruit driven with both red and black fruit tones. There is some superb tannin here and it is sprinkled throughout the palate from the very first moment until the very last. This is a calm and centred wine with little fuss or fanfare and yet it has a lot of concentration and style about it. Perhaps not the DNA for superstardom, this is still a very harmonious and exciting Mouton.
This is an excellent example of good value St Estèphe, in the infinitely capable hands of Jean-Charles Cazes of Lynch Bages. A firmly structured wine, full of wild hedgerow fruit flavours. Beautifully balanced with a subtle stony finish, this well-made wine bursts with energy and intensity.
The 2017 Les Ormes de Pez was matured in 45% new oak with 13.42% alcohol. None of the vines were touched by frost. Cropped at round 50hl/ha, it has a clean, pure red cherry, blackcurrant and cedar-scented bouquet, more Pauillac in style than Saint-Estèphe. The palate is well balanced with ripe tannin that feel more malleable than previous vintages at this stage, a little saline in the mouth with a silky smooth finish. This will be delicious over the next couple of decades and I suspect it will be more approachable than the 2016. Don’t ignore this. 2021 - 2036
Very dark crimson. The aroma is equal parts black fruit and graphite. On the palate, some sweetness of oak spice but there's a slight lack of fruit richness on the palate so that overall it is relatively light. Persistent though, and the tannins are fine enough not to dominate. (JH) Drink 2024-2032
The density for the vintage is impressive with dark-berry and cherry character. Medium to full body, velvety tannins and a fresh and bright finish. Linear and driven.
The 2017 Ormes de Pez comes across as a bit light in both body and structure. Spice, leather, dark red stone fruit and new French oak are nicely pushed forward. Easygoing and open-knit, the 2017 is likely to offer its best drinking sooner rather than later. Jean-Michel Cazes told me yields were surprisingly generous in 2017, along the lines of 2009. Merlot plays an especially prominent role in a blend composed of 51% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
Ormes has managed another good vintage after a run of them. This is a lovely wine and a buy for me. Succulent, bristling and charming, it has juicy brambled fruit extraction and tension. It doesn't take itself too seriously, just asking to be loved. The fruit spectrum is rich with blueberries and damsons, with integrity and a swirl of vanilla bean oak. Includes 6% Cabernet Franc in the blend. No need to wait too long for this. 45% new oak. Drinking Window 2022 - 2035
Chiselled and firm, this is a stern wine with a very forceful demeanour and a slight touch of greenness which might not melt away. I like it a lot, but you will have to be forgiving in due course.
With almost equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend, this is a deliciously giving style and exactly what one seeks in a second wine from a leading estate. Deeply coloured and opaque, this has a generous array of dark berry fruits in the palate. Very pure and full of life, with the added appeal of soft caressing tannins. Not a powerful wine but one that will be very rewarding.
The 2017 Les Pagodes de Cos, which is being matured in 30% new oak (half of the Grand Vin), has a very clean and pure bouquet with black cherries, boysenberry jam and Indian ink. There is certainly impressive intensity here considering this is the deuxième vin. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin. It is furnished with pretty blackberry and wild strawberry notes laced with white pepper and a subtle graphite seam. It has good sustain in the mouth with a “Pauillac” inspired finish in terms of discrete austerity and tannic backbone. I admire the focus here and even though there is not huge length this should age well. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2020 - 2030
This is the second label of Cos d’Estournel, which accounted for about 55% of production in 2017. A blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the 2017 Les Pagodes de Cos has a deep garnet-purple color and exuberant notes of crushed blackberries, red currants and cassis with touches of charcuterie, black soil and garrigue plus a waft of lavender. Medium-bodied and very fine-grained, it has great intensity and vibrancy with a good long, fruity finish.
Much more scented than the Goulée just tasted, with lovely dark-red fruits here. Sweet cassis and a light floral note. Delicate but harmonious structure, cool and silky, extremely silky, very fresh, apparently delicate but persistent too. Elegant and fresh right to the finish. Succulent and beautifully balanced. (JH) Drink 2024-2032
This is a tightly wound second wine with dark-berry, hazelnut and chocolate character. Full body, integrated tannins and a fresh and bright finish.
The 2017 Les Pagodes de Cos is pliant, supple and quite approachable – in other words everything a second wine should be. Succulent red cherry and plum fruit is pushed forward in this soft, inviting Saint-Estèphe. Floral notes add lift. Hints of chocolate, leather and spice add shades of nuances throughout. In 2017, Pagodes represents 60% of the production. The blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
This is enjoyable right off the bat, with its firm dark chocolate, liquorice and cassis character, joined by licks of gourmet patisserie swirling through - exactly what you expect from Pagodes de Cos, without losing its sense of restraint. I like the subdued power, and it seems more in the style of 2014 than 2015 or 2016. It's a touch austere but appealing, with a sumptuous touch that keeps it in the Cos stable. 60% of production went to the second wine this year, almost entirely from separate plots. Just 20% of the plots are interchangeable between grand vin and second wine, depending on the vintage character. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
There is much more spice and dark fruit here and this vintage of Pagodes definitely has a mini-Cos feel about it. It is a little more streamlined and a little more discreet and controlled than I was anticipating. A superb effort, the tannins are smart and there is some enviable complexity on the nose. This is a far more detailed wine than I remember in previous vintages.
The very best parcels of Ch Palmer on the gravel rises close to the Gironde escaped the frost and this great château has produced a sensational wine in 2017. Merlot dominates the blend at 54%, creating a deliciously luscious wine, fully of succulent bramble fruits and Moroccan spice. A beautifully layered wine with velvety tannins, this will give absolute pleasure from youth to old age.
The 2017 Palmer was cropped at 38hl/ha between 20 and 29 September and then matured in 65% new oak (though this sample was taken from a used barrel as usual). For me there is quite a large difference between the Palmer and Alter Ego, the bouquet here is much more sophisticated and demonstrating more delineation: black fruit, iris, brown spices, a touch of clove and a subtle brine influence in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, crisp acidity, smooth and harmonious with a palpable sense of tension. I love the purity here, almost to an extent that I felt like asking Thomas Duroux to eschew the new oak! This has great potential and I love the typicité that I hope will not be obstructed. 2023 - 2050
The 2017 Palmer, a blend of 54% Merlot with 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot, is very deep purple-black in color and leaps from the glass with freshly macerated blue and black fruits: wild blueberries, blackberries and black cherries plus hints of licorice, rose hips, tilled soil and oolong tea with a waft of truffles. Medium-bodied, very finely crafted with exquisitely ripe and smooth yet firm tannins and sporting great mid-palate intensity and wonderful freshness, it finishes long and minerally.
Black core. A little smoky and reduced, more closed/restrained than the Alter Ego. Tannins are firm but so fluid. The tannins are somehow deceptive, they seem so velvety. Very fresh, subtle and extremely persistent. Incredibly pure, and very long. So fluid (though I have to be careful because apparently fluide in French means 'dilute') and incredibly elegant. (JH) 13.2% Drink 2027-2047
This is a sexy and well-formed 2017 with very velvety and suave tannins that go on for minutes. Full-bodied, soft and round. Extremely long and last for minutes.
All the elements of the château come through beautifully in the 2017 Palmer. Dark, succulent and inviting, Palmer expresses the forward, fresh style of the year very nicely. Dark cherry, plum, mocha, chocolate and dark spice notes fill out the wine's frame effortlessly. The 2017 is an understated wine of great promise. I can't wait to taste it from bottle. The blend is 54% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. Technical Director Thomas Duroux told me his team harvested all the fruit in nine days as opposed to the more typical 2-3 weeks. The 2017s were done with no SO2 at crush. Duroux stopped the pumpovers early and favored gentle extractions. Both wines are in the 13-13.2 range of finished alcohol.
It's very interesting to watch a 'super-second' risk scaling back the muscular attributes of its wine. The key, says director Thomas Duroux, was building the blend carefully and using the press wines to preserve the mid-palate (12% press in this wine, around the same as the 2015). It's less powerful and concentrated than the last few vintages, and yet the wine feels sculpted and sewn into place. The fine tannins are extremely clear and precise, and there's a purity of fruit expression that gives an overwhelming initial impression. The aromatics are really striking, offering an abundance of violet notes on the nose with huge finesse. It just gets better and better in the mouth,, and the tannins do that slow-build thing that is so disarming. This has clear ageing potential. Very low SO2 use for the past few years, in keeping with their biodynamic principles. Just one plot of Petit Verdot for the grand vin was hit by frost. Harvested 20-29 September. 11,000 cases of Palmer, representing 55% of the crop. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Winemaker Thomas Duroux explained that this wine is made because the picking date was determined by the ripeness of the grapes and the exact size, shape and style of the wine which he wanted to make i.e. 2017 Palmer. It was not determined by the weather or any other extraneous factors which, in years gone by, might have resulted in a less complete wine. This is a stunning, silky, perfectly proportioned wine with amazing freshness and energy. A great sign is that the oak has already melted away into this wine’s core perfectly.
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. As ever, this is a flashy style of Pessac-Léognan with the rich influence of new oak. Dark cherry fruit gives the wine a luxurious feel with a vibrant line of acidity running along its length.
The 2017 Pape Clément was not touched by the frost and was picked from 15 September to 3 October, manually de-stemmed berry by berry with some of the ripe stems added back into the blend (like Les Carmes Haut-Brion down the road). Malolactic is done in barrel where it aged for 18 months. It offers intense black cherry, raspberry, fig and sous-bois scents on the nose, tightly coiled at the moment with just a hint of cedar and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, a mixture of red and black fruit, touches of cedar and white pepper, leading to a structured and fresh finish that leaves a spicy aftertaste. Classic in style, this Pape Clément will benefit from several years in bottle. 2022 - 2045
The current blend of the 2017 Pape Clement is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. Deep garnet-purple colored, it sings of crushed black cherries, black raspberries and mulberries with hints of lilacs and dusty soil. Medium to full-bodied with a firm, grainy frame and wonderful freshness, it possesses great elegance and effortless intensity with a mineral-tinged finish.
Black with purple core. Dark and savoury on the nose. Pretty oaky but there's more freshness here and less dense extraction than I remember. (JH) Drink 2024-2034
This is very dense for the vintage on the center palate and then rolls out on the palate. Full-bodied, tight and tannic. Very polished and refined at the end. Precise. A little more cabernet sauvignon in the blend gives this the tension.
The 2017 Pape Clément is fabulous. One of the rare 2017s with a real sense of structure, Pape Clément possesses dazzling intensity from start to finish. A rush of dark cherry, plum, chocolate and grilled herb notes hits the palate as this majestic, towering wine shows off its personality. Time in the glass brings out a brighter and more floral set of flavors. The 2017 is the first vintage made with a portion of whole clusters, an inspiration Bernard Magrez takes from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where he recently bought a small property. Quite simply, the 2017 Pape Clément is a magnificent wine by any measure. Don't miss it. The only problem with the 2017 is that yields are down 40% because of frost.
The oak is incredibly dense here and the power and extraction of the fruit is equally impressive and forthright. The only problem is that the tannins are monstrous and they take over the entire back of the palate. I imagine that they will subside, but there is likely to be a residual austerity here which will forever haunt the finish on this wine.
As ever only an edge off the pace of the Grand Vin. Unlike most Bordeaux estates who produce a second wine, Ch Margaux also indulges in a third and a fourth. This means the second, Pavillon Rouge, is proportionally improved by this stricter selection. And selection was extreme this year, Thibault Pontallier explained. They will produce half the volume of Pavillon Rouge in 2017 compared to 2016. This is an enchanting wine; crunchy and vibrant, with aromatic poise and supple tannins. The open, red fruit palate is already approachable and should make an immensely enjoyable early-drinking style.
The 2017 Pavillon Rouge de Margaux, which is matured in 50% new oak, has a lovely, melted tar-tinged bouquet with plenty of black fruit. I like the definition and focus here. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly gritty, rigid tannin on the entry that lend this Pavillon Rouge quite a firm backbone. It does not convey the elegance of the 2016 but there is plenty of spice and vigour on the finish. 2021 - 2032
Blended of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux has a lovely open and expressive spicy nose of cinnamon and cloves with a core of red currant jelly, kirsch and crushed blackberries plus touches of tobacco and new leather. The palate is medium-bodied with great mid-palate intensity and plenty of red and black fruit layers, finishing on an uplifting perfumed note.
Inky black colour. Delicate and super-pure dark fruit, Dark and savoury on the palate, rich and deep in savoury black fruit. Very smooth but with attractive density, smooth and dark and very long. Elegant and flowing across the palate. (JH) 13.1% Drink 2025-2035
There is very pretty purity of fruit to this with lots of currant, strawberry and plum character. Lots of chocolate and hazelnut too. Full body, velvety tannins and a chewy finish. Excellent for the vintage. About half the normal production. This is the same level of quality as 2016.
The 2017 Pavillon Rouge is a very pretty wine. Fresh, floral and beautifully lifted, the 2017 is all class. There is a purity to the flavors here that is simply remarkable. Estate Manager Sebastian Vergne told me the winemaking team opted to raise temperatures at the end of fermentation to gain a bit more color, depth and polymerization of tannins. Pavillon Rouge represents 22% of the estate's production.
This has great concentration, with carefully balanced black fruits that are fleshy and inviting but unfussy. The berry size was a little bigger than last year after the September rains (70mm in 20 days) so there is a feeling of juice and mouthwatering seduction once you give it some time to work through the initial austerity. There's no dilution through the mid-palate, and it's one of the few second wines that really gets your attention in 2017. They lost 10% of the crop to frost, giving a yield of 35hl/ha, with no secondary fruits used in Pavillon or Margaux (not even the first generation buds from any affected plots). 22% of total production is the lowest ever for Pavillon, and combined with the low yield means there will be 40% fewer bottles. The vineyards were entirely organically farmed in 2017, although there are still no plans to go for certification. Harvested 18-26 September. 3.7pH. IPT 73 - as high as last year. 4% Cabernet Franc also in the blend. Will be 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
22% of production was used for this wine – approximately half of last year’s quantity. There were 8 hectares damaged by frost, so approximately 10% of production was lost. The season was ‘easy’ apart from that but from the second week of September, the rain came and then it went, thankfully, and higher temperatures returned with the sunshine. They harvested everything fairly smartly. This is a bright, very intense Cabernet-themed wine with amazing density considering its framework, which is not muscular at all. The purple-ink colour and incredible length are fascinating. On paper it is not dissimilar to the 2016, but in flavour terms it couldn’t be more different. It needs time to soften, as this is a tense, coiled-up Pavillon.
Overseen by Emmanuel Cruse, proprietor of Ch d’Issan, this relatively unknown Fifth Growth is a rising force in Pauillac. Blackcurrant, blueberries and a hint of spice on the nose flow into the palate of ripe dark fruit. It has a rich, generous texture, great balance, fine-grained tannins and wonderful freshness coming through on the finish. With all the drive so typical of Pauillac, this is ideal for good medium term drinking.
The 2017 Pédesclaux contains 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, the first time that all four grapes are in the final blend. It was cropped at 47hl/ha and contains 13.25° alcohol. It has a very harmonious bouquet, quite mineral driven with pencil lead and crushed stone infusing the black fruit that is one of the most precise that I have encountered in recent years. The palate is medium-boiled with fine grain tannin, quite precise and poised, the 50% new oak is nicely integrated with a finish that is fleet of foot. Very fine. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2020 - 2036
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Pedesclaux is scented of crushed blueberries, warm black cherries and cigar box with touches of garrigue and cinnamon toast. Medium-bodied with firm, grainy tannins and just enough vibrant fruit, it has a nice long vivacious finish. The tentative blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
This is tannic for the year with blueberry, blackberry and salt character. Sea shells too. Full body, powerful finish. Pure blackcurrants at the finish. Some flowers too. Impressive. Driven, tight finish.
The 2017 Pédesclaux is pliant, supple and expressive, all of which make it an excellent choice for drinking over the near and medium term. This is a distinctly fruity, forward style, with plenty of dark cherry, plum, chocolate and new leather flavors pushed forward. It will be interesting to see if more complexity and nuance develop in aging. Tasted two times.
They have certainly continued to build up the feeling of serious weight and power at this property. It opens up carefully and consistently over ten minutes in the glass, with a clear focus on Cabernet flavours such as dark spice, blackcurrant berries and buds, liquorice and walls of slate. This wine is taking its place slowly but surely among the really good Pauillacs, and has managed to continue to make an impression in 2017. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
The second wine of first growth Mouton Rothschild has really grown in stature in recent years. This is a fine example of its new-found quality. Hints of vanilla and mocha on the nose. This is a bold and giving style, whilst retaining a tightly integrated tannic core. A bright freshness on the finish lifts the palate to create a balanced, open wine.
The 2017 Le Petit Mouton, blended of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc, is very deep purple-black in color and a touch reduced on the nose (both times it was tasted), giving way to notions of preserved plums and blackberry preserves with touches of licorice, tar, black soil and truffles. Medium-bodied, elegant and with a firm line of grainy tannins melded with seamless freshness, it has a fairly muscular character at this stage and a long, earthy finish.
Deep crimson. Pure minerally cassis, very refined and elegant on the nose. Succulent and pure in Cabernet Sauvignon character and the most beautifully fine tannin texture. So silky and with that lovely sweet mineral cassis on the palate. Very good. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
Blackberry and blueberry character with black licorice and aniseed. Full body, tight and chewy tannins and a long, flavorful finish. Tight at the end but shows plenty of potential. Second wine of Mouton.
The 2017 Le Petit-Mouton is dense, powerful and luscious. Even with all of its richness, the Petit Mouton possesses terrific structural underpinnings that give the wine its shape and overall persistence. Red cherry jam, wild flowers and sweet spice build into the finish in this decidedly succulent Pauillac. The blend is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The late season rains were especially challenging for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc. As a result the total production of Le Petit-Mouton is down around 28%. "After the frost, which did not really affect us, the major challenge in 2017 was heat stress," Mouton Technical Director Philippe Dhalluin told me. "We had no rain until the end of June. Then, in September, when we needed a bit of rain again, we got more than double what would have been optimal. The September rain affected the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while the Cabernet Sauvignon was able to take advantage of the last 15 days of the growing season, which were much more favorable. In the cellar, we opted for longer macerations at lower temperatures, as we wanted to avoid extracting the type of hard tannins that mark other vintages with very dry summers, such as 2011."
This doesn't quite have the exuberant joy of most vintages, but is extremely well put together. I has some clear menthol notes, with fresh mint, cassis, graphite, and a subtle layering of flexible tannins. This is accomplished and lovely, but has a little less of a Petit Mouton signature than usual. Just 20% of the crop went into Petit Mouton this year - 25% less than usual because the Merlot didn't quite come through the dry summer and rains of September as they had hoped. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
A blend of 71% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. This balances perfumed fruit with robust structure, which is the classic Petit Village style. A fulsome wine with freshness on the finish. It has the potential to age very well indeed.
The 2017 Petit-Village is raised in 50% new oak for 15 months, the vines did not suffer frost damage at all. This is a Pomerol cru that has left me feeling nonplussed in recent vintages and I am still seeking a version that reflects the terroir. It has plenty of red cherry and red plum fruit on the nose, hints of blood orange and just a touch of cooked meat. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly dry tannin, moderate depth, and just attenuated a little towards the finish leaving you wanting more. 2022 - 2036
Petit Village was completely spared from the frosts in 2017. Composed of 71% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 Petit Village is deep garnet-purple in color and is a little reticent to begin, with slowly emerging notes of warms plums, blackberry pie and baked blueberries plus sparks of kirsch, licorice, camphor and chargrill. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a generous amount of mid-palate flesh and really ripe, plush tannins, finishing with loads of blue, black and red fruit layers.
Deep cherry red. Sudden burst of right-bank sweetness after tasting Pichon Baron, Pibran and Les Tourelles. Scented with violets. Cinammon buns. Sweet fruit and firm tannins give very good balance. Firm but juicy and generous too. Lots of pleasure and fruit depth. (JH) Drink 2024-2034
This is layered and very poised with plum and chocolate character. Full body and chewy tannins that are polished and focused. Very long and serious.
The 2017 Petit-Village is a very pretty and promising mid-weight Pomerol. The high percentage of Cabernet Franc comes through in the wine's distinctly floral/savory profile that brings lift to the bright, red-toned fruit. Technical Director Diana Berrouet Garcia opted for shortish macerations of around 20 days because the skins were fragile and the wines extracted easily. The blend is 71% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon.
There was no frost at all at this estate and the weather patterns were similar to the Left Bank, but the harvest was earlier - in the middle of September. They could have waited for the old vine Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen more, but the decision to pick when they did meant that these vines retained freshness and more complexity. The tannins are seriously attractive and the older vines have contributed to this. This wine will have a lovely and gradual ageing and I feel it will be very successful thanks to the freshness and grip.
This Cru Bourgeois St Estèphe estate has been nurtured into one of the jewels of the unclassified growths by owners, Champagne house Louis Roederer, who purchased the estate in 1995. Its smoothly textured palate with mature tannins and a bright, freshening drive follow its aromas of black fruit and Asian spice. It has St Estèphe’s classical chalky acidity, and some admirably fleshy weight from the high proportion of Merlot (46%), with fine structure derived from its Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), Cabernet Franc (1.5%) and Petit Verdot (1.5%).
The 2017 de Pez is a solid if slightly unremarkable Saint-Estèphe compared to Les Ormes de Pez. “We had 120mm of rain in Saint-Estèphe between late August and mid-September,” Nicolas Glumineau explains, when I tasted the sample at Pichon-Lalande. “We started picking on 10 September and there was an impact on the concentration of the Merlot. In Pauillac it was just 75mm and the gravel soils free-draining, so it was less affected”. Matured in one-third new oak, it has a perfumed, almost Margaux-like bouquet with black cherries, cedar and violet. The new oak is a little more prominent here than on its stable-mate Haut-Beauséjour tasted alongside. The palate is sweet and rounded on the entry, quite a bit of extraction here with bold tannins. There is a lot of weight density on this Saint-Estèphe and personally I would hope for a little more flesh on the finish. 2020 - 2030
The 2017 de Pez is deep garnet-purple in color with quite a spicy nose giving notions of black pepper, anise, fenugreek and cloves over a core of blackberries and cassis with touches of forest floor and truffles. The palate is medium-bodied with a good intensity of black fruits and firm, grainy tannins plus seamless freshness, finishing peppery.
Cassis and something earthy on the nose, a bit woody. More rewarding on the palate, juicy and fresh. Not a huge amount of fruit weight but the structure is fine-boned and thus in balance. (JH) Drink 2023-2030
This is tight with raspberry and dark-tea character. Medium-bodied, firm and silky and bright on the finish.
Pez is the wine to watch in Saint-Estèphe now that the Rouzaud family has sold Haut-Beauséjour and given what Technical Director Nicolas Glumineau has accomplished at Pichon-Comtesse as well as his prior experience at Montrose. The 2017 de Pez is a dark, powerful wine. Black cherry, plum, graphite, smoke, game, licorice and tobacco add myriad shades of nuance. A wine of remarkable intensity for the year, Pez has a lot to offer. Without the late season, Pez might have been even better, but it is still terrific. The blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 1.5 %Cabernet Franc and 1.5% Petit Verdot.
There's a little more gravel in the soils here than at Haut-Beauséjour, so the rains of September had less of an impact. There is clearly more of a mid-palate here, with intense cassis and tobacco notes but still an austerity that brings it up a little short. 1.5% Petit Verdot makes up the given blend. The replanting at Pez has almost finished - it should be completed over the next 5 years, by which time the Merlot will have lowered, in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon. A new winery also begins construction next year, making this definitely one to watch. Drinking Window 2025 - 2036
IPT With some coffee and chocolate notes in the background, this is a rather layered and intricate wine and even though the tannins are gruff and a little blunt at the moment, which is to be expected, there is plenty of fruit here and the alcohol and oak serve to lift the flavours rather than dampen them. Nicely balanced and rewarding, this is a very satisfying wine.
Minimal frost damage at the estate, and none affecting the plots used for the grand vin, means the 2017 follows the usual recipe with a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot. There is an intensity and ripeness to the Cabernet in this deeply coloured wine. The dark hedgerow aromas accompany the roasted coffee bean warmth of flavour. Robust tannins are matched by the meaty weight of its fruit. Pichon Baron’s characteristic muscle is combined with a sweetly spiced length to culminate in a seductive, voluptuous finish.
The 2017 Pichon Baron was picked from 18 to 21 September for the Merlot and 27 September to 3 October for the Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a very sophisticated, pure and quite intense bouquet with black fruit, cedar and potent graphite aromas. This feels very focused and the 80% new oak is seamlessly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with a smooth entry, very sleek and silky with a gentle grip. There is a lovely sweetness here, perhaps less austere than I was anticipating with a very long, quite spicy finish. Tasted four times with consistent notes. 2020 - 2045
The grand vin represents 50% of production this year. A blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, the 2017 Pichon-Longueville Baron is deep garnet-purple in color and simply sings of vibrant blackcurrants, black cherries and rose hip notes with nuances of potpourri, incense, licorice and pencil shavings plus touches of cigar box and fertile loam. Medium-bodied, super intense and possessing stunning poise, it has very firm, fine-grained tannins and a beautifully silken texture, with bags of freshness and a very long, perfumed finish.
Very dark with black core and purple rim. Seductively dark fruit and graphite. Seductive without being flirtatious, rather serious in fact. Deep with black fruit, not sweet, dry and super-smooth with a dry elegance and restraint. Extremely fine and surprisingly juicy on the finish. Long and elegant. Firm, compact and delicious. (JH) Drink 2026-2047
This is very centered and focused on the mid-palate with beautiful currant, coffee and walnut character. Full-bodied and superfine. Strong tannins and a long and bright finish. Lots of blackcurrants and blackberries in the end.
Pichon Baron is one of the sexiest Pauillacs I tasted in 2017. Silky, nuanced and finessed to the core, the 2017 hits all the right notes. In the glass, the 2017 possesses striking aromatic presence, vivid flavors, silky tannins and exceptional balance. In 2017, Pichon Baron is a wine of incomparable elegance and total finesse. I loved it.
A wonderfully rich and beautiful wine, intense and concentrated but with real generosity of spirit and huge persistency. It's in keeping with the more focussed and intensely intellectual style of wine that Pichon Baron has produced over the past few vintages, meaning that the austerity of the year really suits it. The 30hl/ha yield was not because of frost, but because of their low-yielding 60-year-old Cabernet vines. 80% new oak. 50% of production went into the grand vin. Harvested 18 September to 3 October, followed by an early and rapid fermentation and blending, meaning that wines were transferred into barrel by the end of November. A wine to age, and then some. Drinking Window 2026 - 2042
This is a classic Pichon Baron with a very strict, no-nonsense Cabernet theme which doesn’t deviate from the path! It has stunning accuracy and it is also a beautiful example of the Cabernet grape and the texture is grainy, lithe and fit. The tannins are bright and feisty without being dry and there is masses of energy and harmony here, too. Not a modernist wine at all, but the very definition of a classicist.
This wine stopped us in our tracks. I was seduced by the quality, harmony and sheer class of this stunning wine! This Pichon Lalande exemplifies the supremacy of Bordeaux’s two most famous grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Merlot (23%). Beautifully perfumed with hints of violets and dark cherries. It caresses the palate with its sweetness, charm and tenderness, slowly building in energy and intensity, finishing with Pauillac drive and depth. A real highlight of the vintage with a great life ahead. This is a totally brilliant wine.
The 2017 Pichon-Lalande was picked from 7 September to 2 October and underwent a 23 day cuvaison period. It is intense on the nose, the new oak coming through a little strongly since the sample came from a new barrel, the final blend consisting of 60% new wood. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, the Cabernet Sauvignon driving this alone with layers of black fruit laced with cedar and graphite. It is a very “Pauillac” Pichon Lalande, less opulent and giving than recent vintages and more in the style of say, the 1996 or 2010. There is very good persistence on the saline finish but it is clearly a wine that is going to require more cellaring than its peers. Tasted four times in total, each time this gained more substance and density. 2022 - 2045
This barrel sample is 100% new oak, whereas the final blend will be only 60% new oak. A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the 2017 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is very deep garnet-purple in color with an incredibly fragrant nose of roses, lavender and baking spices over a core of crushed blackcurrants, wild blueberries and fresh plums plus touches of iron ore and underbrush. Medium-bodied and elegant with firm, grainy tannins, it's quite taut and muscular, with lots of perfumed and mineral layers and a long finish with lingering cinnamon and anise notes.
Dark crimson with soft pink rim. Lightly leafy dark fruit. Super-smooth texture and some fruit sweetness on the mid palate. Firm, dark and elegant on the finish. Sinewy and quite supple and long even without huge intensity, showing the charm of Comtesse and still clearly revealing its Pauillac origins. A smart, elegant wine reflecting the vintage. Tannins are tender – if more serious than on the Réserve de la Comtesse – and fruit just right. (JH) Drink 2027-2042
This is a really fascinating young Pichon Lalande with a dense center palate of currants, crushed stones, salt and seashells. Really long and intense. Wonderful energy. Showing character of some of the top years of the 1980s.
The 2017 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is gorgeous, but it is also going to need time to come together. The sensuality and allure typical of so many Pauillacs is not at all evident here. A rush of dark cherry, plum, smoke, charcoal and exotic spice make a strong opening statement in a powerful Pichon Comtesse that is not ready to show all of its cards. The 2017 was incredibly reticent in several tastings, which is probably a very good thing for its long-term potential. Today, though, the 2017 is dense, powerful and closed in on itself, without the layers that define the 2014, 2015 and 2016.
If you just taste the big name Pauillacs, you would be hard-pressed to understand that 2017 has been a challenging year. This is one of my wines of the vintage, no question. It's from 21ha, biodynamically farmed, with Vincent Masson as consultant. Just a few plots further away from the river were affected by frost. The slight austerity of 2017 is evident, with a savoury quality to the fruit, but this is exceptionally good, with plenty of stunning fruit and well defined tannins. The aromatics are very refined, and the intense cassis fruit doesn't sacrifice any intensity or power. It demonstrates the energy that Comtesse has displayed so consistently in recent vintages, with gorgeous finesse and structure to the tannins. The new cellar has raised the level of Cabernet from 65% to 70+%, with 12% press wine. This is going to age extremely well. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Very clean and firm, there is a singular theme here. The Cabernet Sauvignon is so pure and dominant that while the other varieties clearly add detail, they are lined up behind the silhouette of the Cabernet and for the time being, they have to wait to add their voices to the experience. Very satisfying and very clean, this is a wonderful expression of this property and also the vintage.
A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot, this is deep purple in colour, full of wild hedgerow fruits. The lovely palate is understated but superbly balanced with a natural intensity of fruit and the grip of earthy tannic structure. A superb example of Pessac-Léognan from Paulin Calvet’s excellent value estate.
Deep crimson. Black cherry and a hint of menthol. Powder-fine tannins are well managed so as not to dominate the fruit, which is a bit light in the middle. Just a bit abrupt. (JH) Drink 2022-2027
This offers a good tannin backbone and fruit/acid tension, even if it remains to be seen whether the mid-palate will fatten out a little.
A little dusty and oaky, this needs a year or two to dissolve the tannins into the red fruit core of this wine, but it is a nice and accurate interpretation of the vintage and it is genuinely medium-weight and floral, so it will appeal to all.
64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Alfred Tesseron and his daughter Justine finished their harvest slightly later than some of their neighbours and have made a very fine 2017. Deep blackcurrant fruits on the nose and palate. This is a bright fresh style, with a firm tannic core, having capitalised on the cool nights of early autumn.
The 2017 Pontet Canet has a very ripe and pure, slightly high-toned bouquet with touches of iodine inflecting the black cherry and cassis fruit. There is a subtle floral aspect to this Pontet-Canet, more iris than violet. With aeration there are hints of graphite and crushed stone, some of its initial opulence ebbing away. The palate is medium-bodied with fine balance on the entry, slightly chalky tannin, a fine sense of energy and poise. On the two readings of this wine, this was perhaps the most difference. The mid-April tasting had a very similar nose however, the palate demonstrated far more backbone, linearity and mineralité, not to mention a sapidity that was not present in the showing at the end of March. Ah yes, that’s the Pontet I love. I expect this to land at the upper end of my banded score once in bottle. Tasted twice at the property. 2021 - 2040
Blended of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Pontet-Canet opens with vibrant wild blueberries, black raspberries and crushed plums with notions of cinnamon stick, violets, unsmoked cigars and pencil lead plus wafts of roses, lavender and tilled black soil. Medium-bodied with very fine, incredibly plush tannins, it is deliciously savory in the mouth, with wonderful freshness and spectacular energy delivering many layers, resulting in a very long, mineral-laced finish.
Sweet and spicy on the nose and sweet and quite thick on the palate. Rounded and soft but not a huge amount of fruit flavour. Very nice spice, giving a slightly exotic character. Firm, compact, fresh. Spice is the thing here and a very natural chewy texture. With air more fragrant, a floral fragrance. Chewy, 'spicy' texture, well-balanced fruit and deeply textured. Distinctive. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
This is incredibly transparent and refined with blackcurrant, blueberry and mineral character. Full-bodied, layered and ethereal. Tannins have a crushed-stone character. Long and persistent.
The 2017 Pontet-Canet showed progressively better on each of the three occasions I tasted it. Deep, pliant and beautifully layered in the glass, the 2017 exudes class. Dark red cherry, plum, pomegranate, licorice and rose petal infuse this super-expressive and highly nuanced wine from proprietor Alfred Tesseron and technical director Jean-Michel Comme. Harvest ran from September 18 through October 4. The blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot and is aging in 50% new oak, 35% amphora and 15% one year old oak. Tasted three times.
This is a very charming Pauillac with texture, rippling energy and undoubted finesse. It's deceptive, because the dark, luscious blackberry, bilberry, and damson notes are fairly fresh, with a luscious lipsmacking quality, but the tannins build over the palate. It almost tastes like a St-Julien rather than a Pauillac as they're so fine and elegant, but the Pauillac character becomes more apparent by the close of play - there's no hiding those swirling cassis, smoke and menthol notes. This has a really gorgeous tension and freshness without sacrificing concentration. They used brand-new concrete vats this year, designed by technical director Jean-Michel Comme's, for one-third of the crop. The concrete was made from sands and gravels extracted from the exact spot that the building containing them now stands, utilising geothermal heating and cooling, with as few metallic parts as possible and insulated with hemp. The wine will be aged in 50% new oak, 35% concrete vats and t15% in one-year-old barrels. They have made nearly no second wine again. Just 1% frost loss in 2017. The Merlot was harvested from 18 September, block by block over 10 days, then deleafed. The Cabernets were picked from 28 September through until 4 October. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
The yields here were ever so slightly higher than last year and there was no frost damage at all. This is the first vintage in which they used the large concrete fermenters which look like amphorae from the outside but on the inside they are more akin to upright ‘fat rugby balls’, according to Alfred Tesseron. They are completely smooth inside with no corners at all and so he does not need to rack and the pigeage is so easy, ‘it can be done by a child, but is it not done by a child’, says Alfred with a smile. The nose shows some coffee and plum notes and some ripeness and richness, but this is not transferred to the palate which is more strictly controlled and focussed. There is no doubt that the nose is the star performer at the moment and it is very luscious and layered. The palate is not wanting to be disturbed but it shows deft tannins and a very crunchy finish. This is a wine which is slimmer and fitter than in previous vintages and yet it doesn’t show any muscle at all, just perfectly clean lines. Alfred says that he likes to make every wine individual and this is a prime example.
Poujeaux’s Merlot is planted in cooler spots, and they were hit badly by the frost. 2017 is therefore an unusual blend for the estate, with 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot and only 25% Merlot. The result is very appealing indeed, deep in colour, with striking mocha and spice aromas. This is a full and intense wine, with great breadth of fruit. It is long, with lovely sweetness on the finish.
The 2017 Poujeaux has a generous, slightly smudged bouquet with cranberry, raspberry and cedar aromas, just a little greenness in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, dark berry fruit, black pepper and a little graphite. It just misses a sense of energy that I have found on the finest vintages of this Moulis, although there is a pleasant sappiness that develops. 2021 - 2035
This is very pretty for the vintage with berries, currants and hints of nutmeg. Medium to full body. Savory finish already.
Feisty, spicy, dark and a little charry, this is a deep and perfumed wine but the finish is a little too coarse and this roughens up the overall feel and demands some age. I feel it is in for the long run, and it will certainly need a few years to gather its fruit notes together.
This superbly positioned St Emilion estate owned by the Dillon family of Ch Haut-Brion goes from strength to strength. The 2017 is an even more striking wine than the very fine 2016. It delivers everything one would expect from such a superbly located vineyard, overlooking Angélus and Belair-Monange. Shining purple in colour, it has a beautifully perfumed nose of violets and cherries. The palate is silky and poised, with good purity of fruit and a bright, fresh, mineral finish.
The 2017 Quintus was picked 14 to 29 September. It has a pretty, rather compact bouquet that clearly lacks the complexity of the 2015 or 2016 like so many Saint-Émilions. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin. There is a tight ball of slightly ferrous dark berry fruit mixed with brown spice, although the finish feels easy-going and does not deliver the complexity of a top-drawer vintage. As such, I feel this will be suitable for early drinking rather than a vin de garde. 2020 - 2027
A blend of 54.4% Merlot and 45.6% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Quintus has a slightly closed nose with aromas of crushed blueberries, fresh black and red currants and black raspberries with touches of black pepper, cinnamon stick, anise and tilled soil plus a waft of lavender. The palate is medium to full-bodied with great intensity and energy, displaying vibrant red and black fruits with wonderful acidity and ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and lively.
There's a light floral note here, sweetly aromatic. Lifted, pure dark fruit with an aroma of graphite giving a mineral character. Juicy, mouth-watering and scented on the palate but could do with a little more flesh in the middle to balance that freshness. (JH) 14.43% Drink 2022-2030
Very fine and polished with blackberry and blueberry character. Medium to full body, integrated tannins and a focused finish. Almost Burgundian.
The 2017 Quintus is an attractive, fragrant Saint-Émilion. In this tasting, the two wines off the estate are not as markedly different as I had hoped. It will be interesting to see how the wines develop over time. Bright red cherry fruit and lifted floral notes open up nicely, with a touch of Franc character that informs the finish.
With more amplitude, more depth, more spice and more oak than the second wine, Dragon, this wine could have ended up being a little too powerful and hard, but quite the opposite has happened. The nose is very detailed with juicy black cherry and plum notes over a clean, rich palate with lovely freshness and touches of spice. The finish is juicy and mouth-watering and it rolls on for minutes and, remarkably, there is not one molecule of astringency, just fine-grained, raspy traction which offsets the exuberance of the fruit.
An extremely impressive wine from the Wertheimer brothers of Chanel. Since their purchase 25 years ago, this great estate has re-established its place among the upper echelons of the Médoc as Margaux’s top second growth. Deeply opaque in colour, it has aromas of mocha and dark berries. In the palate the initially sweet, generous fruit gives way to a robust texture and generous structure. Full, long and complex. One of the high notes of the appellation.
The 2017 Rauzan-Ségla is matured in 50% new oak with 14% vin de presse, which was apparently from the high quality Cabernet this year. It has a fascinating bouquet with pure blackberry, iris, crushed stone and a light estuarine influence that becomes stronger with aeration, just a faint touch of oyster shell developing in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, crisp acidity, very elegant and refined, possibly the most feminine Rauzan-Ségla in recent years with a silky smooth finish. It is not the instant showstopper like the 2015 – this is more understated and needs time for its quality to be fully appreciated. Tasted on three occasions. 2022 - 2045
Composed of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot and sporting a deep garnet-purple color, the 2017 Rauzan-Segla has a profound nose of cassis, warm blackberries and black plums with touches of baking spices, violets, mocha and smoke plus a waft of garrigue. Medium to full-bodied with a great core of sustained, energetic black fruit, a frame of fine-grained tannins and a lively backbone, it finishes with great length.
Inky core and purple rim. Not much on the nose, a touch of black olive as well as black fruit and a woody oak note. Relatively subdued on the palate but juicy and with more energy than some. Juicy fruit right through to the sustained finish. (JH) Drink 2023-2037
This is tight and focused with a super precise palate of blackberries, blackcurrants and hints of flowers. Full body, linear tannins and a long finish.
The 2017 Rauzan-Ségla is a fleshy, seductive wine. Soft contours and ripe silky tannins add to the wine's immediacy and sheer appeal. The viticultural and winemaking team has succeeded in adding finesse and detail to the Grand Vin without altering its classic sense of structure and proportion. A vertical explosion of fruit laced with expressive floral notes build into the finish in a classy, understated Margaux that hits all the right notes. Hints of tobacco, crushed flowers, leather, licorice and dried cherry add the closing shades of nuance. What a gorgeous wine this is. Tasted three times.
Rich, tight and deep, this wine has been extremely well handled in a vintage that suits this elegant style. There isn't the depth and complexity of expression that was seen in the previous two vintages, but it gets across the signature of the estate in an earlier drinking form - the absolute essence of what you want in a trickier vintage. If priced well, it's a buy. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
This is another success for Rauzan-Ségla with rich, chocolatey fruit and some good power behind the oak. Always fairly demonstrative, this is a hedonistic wine in a vintage which rarely uses this descriptor, so there is a kind of anomaly here and it will not quite work itself to a conclusion so there will inevitably be a few flaws in its finished article, but regardless of this it is a success.
One of the outstanding second wines of the vintage. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 2% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Full of plums and summer fruits, this is a very harmonious style of Pauillac, with refinement and elegance. An extremely graceful wine, which will give huge early drinking pleasure.
The 2017 Reserve de la Comtesse, which is matured in 30% new oak and 70% one-year old, has a really quite beautiful bouquet with perfumed blackberry, blueberry and subtle vanilla scents. The palate is medium-bodied with just a little sinew on the entry. There is certainly good weight and backbone here, quite saline compared to its peers with a slightly chalky finish with a touch of charcoal. Very fine. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2019 - 2030
Composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Reserve de la Comtesse is very deep garnet-purple colored and opens with expressive cassis, dark chocolate, violets and Sichuan pepper notions with hints of black olives and hoisin. Medium-bodied, it's elegant, fresh and chewy in the mouth with a long, earthy finish.
Sweeter fruited than Pez, even lightly floral. Much better balance and more juicy on the palate. Lightish but all in proportion. Tannins are fine and they need to be with only moderate depth of fruit. (JH)
A beautiful second wine with blackberry and blackcurrant character and hints of green tea. Medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a fresh finish.
The 2017 Réserve de la Comtesse is a very serious second wine. Maybe too serious. Dense and closed in on itself, the Réserve offers notable depth and complexity. Time in the glass brings out the wine's more floral, red-toned side, but the 2017 remains tightly wound and not fully expressive. I tasted the Réserve three times, but still feel it was never totally put together.
This is a wonderful second wine, and a real success in a vintage where second wines are often punching below their weight. It's rich, plump, floral-edged and above all extremely drinkable. It has a juicy frame and it delivers. A 2% pinch of Petit Verdot adds spice (and is added only after the press wine, the absolute final step to add depth, if needed). They used no secondary fruit at all. This should be good to go in five to six years. Tasted several times. Drinking Window 2022 - 2034
Very pure and very focussed, this is a bright and pencil-lead-mineral style of Comtesse with crisp tannins and a sleek feel. The fruit is calm and controlled and there is an overall feeling of confidence and balance. While the fruit is medium- weight there is some good intent and persistence, making this a very successful and accurate wine.
Côtes de Bourg might not conjure quite the same romantic image as St Emilion, but this wine possesses the same spellbinding charm as François Mitjavile’s flagship estate, Ch Tertre Rôteboeuf, with an earlier drinking window. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Old vines (50 years for the Cabernet Sauvignon) give the wine great intensity. The sweet cranberry fruit is seasoned with Asian spice from the 100% new French oak. The fleshy palate culminates in a long and satisfying finish.
The 2017 Roc de Cambes, for a long time we considered changing the blend of Roc de Cambes by pulling up the Cabernet, but in the end we kept it the same blend as it is the character of the wine. This is matured in 100% new oak (although it is impossible to tell.) It has a very clean and pure bouquet, perfumed blackberry and bilberry fruit, a touch of seawater in the background. The oak here is nicely integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly chalky tannin, notes of mulberry, blackberry, brine and touches of brown spice. Like the Domaine des Cambes there is fine energy in situ and it feels long and full of tension on the classy, quite peppery finish. 2020 - 2035
The 2017 Roc de Cambes is deep garnet-purple in color with a slightly reticent nose of blackberries, cassis and tar with nuances of pencil shavings, damp soil and dried herbs. The palate is medium-bodied, firm and grainy with great freshness and a long, lively finish.
The 2017 Roc de Cambes is even better from bottle than it was from barrel. Rich, dense and explosive, with tremendous power the 2017 is positively stellar from the very first taste. Macerated dark cherries, sage, spice, star anise, orange zest, mint and new leather give the 2017 an exotic, racy feel that is hard to fully describe. In the glass, the 2017 possesses off the charts aromatic intensity and tons of pure fruit richness, while the 100% new oak is barely perceptible. Readers lucky enough to find it will enjoy a wine of tremendous character and personality. This is an absolutely stunning wine from Francois and Nina Mitjavile. 2022-2047
The fruit is more intense than in Domaine de Cambes and it is more serious, more structured, more reticent and more regal. There is a dramatic edge to this wine which bring tannic tension and this warns the drinker away. While you can get on and drink the ‘wine from over the road’ this is a more tense creation and it will need 5 years or more. Having said this I like both wines equally which shows just how different in character they are.
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. As ever, this is a flashy style of Pessac-Léognan with the rich influence of new oak. Dark cherry fruit gives the wine a luxurious feel with a vibrant line of acidity running along its length.
The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte was not affected by frost and is therefore a classic blend matured in 60% new oak. The bouquet demands a little encouragement from the glass this year, eventually opening with floral scents, more iris than violet, flanked by blackberry and bilberry. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin that comes across just a little chalky in style. This feels very cohesive and comes replete with a detailed and nuanced finish that might lack the flair and volume of the 2016, but it is certainly sustained and persistent. Give this four to five years in bottle and subject to optimal barrel maturation this may well land at the top of my banded score. 2022 - 2045
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte opens slowly to reveal complex notes of crushed black cherries, black currants and wild blueberries with touches of lavender, pencil lead, cast iron pan and a waft of aniseed. Medium-bodied and elegant with great freshness and quiet intensity, it has firm, grainy tannins and a sustained yet ethereal mid-palate, with a long, energetic, mineral-laced finish.
Smells sweet-fruited and sweetly oaky. Lovely fruit flavour on the palate – dark-red fruit – could perhaps do with just a little more fruit stuffing in the middle but this may just need a bit longer in barrel. Finishes fresh and the tannins are dry and refined. A sleeping beauty perhaps? (JH) Drink 2024-2037
This is a solid Smith for the vintage with blackberry and blackcurrant character. Full to medium body, firm and silky tannins and a lingering finish. Excellent potential here.
The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte is easily one of the highlights of the vintage. Dense, unctuous and impeccably balanced, the 2017 exudes depth from start to finish. Charcoal embers, graphite, menthol, licorice and sage add myriad shades of nuance to the plush, unctuous dark raspberry jam fruit. This is a super impressive showing from Smith Haut Lafitte. I tasted the 2017 two times. On both occasions, the wine showed tremendous aromatic and flavor depth.
Made from the ‘classic blend’ because there was no frost here to force their hand, the balance from the start is exciting with dramatic tones of slightly exotic fruit tempered with steely acidity. The tension and the quality of the fruit is stunning. The mid-palate is not rich or fat and yet the depth of flavour is lovely. They didn’t over-extract here and this was key to the soft core of fruit which lends this wine some serious class.
At only 12.5% alcohol this is one of the most light-footed of the St Juliens this year. There is a smoky savour to the fruit derived from its high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (73%). A fresh finish is sustained along a line of salty, soy flavour, with some robust tannins beneath.
The 2017 Saint-Pierre came from a sample taken from a new barrel although the final blend will include half that amount. It was cropped at 46hl/ha from 18 September until around 3 October in a second wave of picking. It has quite an introverted bouquet with broody dark berry fruit, tobacco and graphite, almost Pauillac-like in style. It probably just needs to evolve a little more cohesion. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy, slightly abrasive tannin but a fine line of acidity. There is firmness and density to this Saint-Pierre, weighty in the mouth but I find that it is missing some finesse towards the finish. Like the Gloria, it may well improve during its barrel maturation. A second sample encountered at the end of my tastings was even better and showed immense brightness and energy. 2022 - 2045
The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Saint-Pierre is a little reticent, giving glimpses at warm cassis, baked plums, tobacco and pencil shavings notes with a touch of forest floor. Medium-bodied with a muscular core of sustained black fruit, it has a grainy frame and plenty of freshness, finishing with impressive length. The blend is currently 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc.
Mid crimson. Dark fruit and a little smoky/charry on the nose along with some sweetness of oak. Dark and savoury on the palate, the tannins fine and already very supple, as if extraction had been light. Just slightly hard on the finish. (JH) Drink 2024-2032
This is more layered and impressive than Gloria this year. Full and focused with structure and length.
One of the real gems of the vintage, the 2017 Saint-Pierre is powerful, deep and quite concentrated. Despite its obvious richness, the 2017 has more than enough supporting structure to back it up. Gravel, smoke, tobacco, leather, licorice and spice lead into the potent finish in a muscular, tannic Saint-Julien built for the cellar. This is an outrageously beautiful wine. Tasted three times.
They have done a great job this year of not dipping far below the quality of the last few vintages. The only indications really are in the texture and the more savoury-edged register of the fruit. The tannins are a touch more pulled in on the finish, closing things off just slightly too early. Overall this is a clear success, with punch, personality, juice, fine tannic hold, and notes of bilberry fruits, charcoal and cedar smoke. Very good quality. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Very succulent and attractive on the nose, there is the trademark torrent of oak but, as always, it is very well managed and it adds spice and cinnamon notes to the lush fruit. The tannins are not dry, just tense and firm and this shuts down the back palate, but it is very easy to see that this is a successful wine. You just have to remember it is on the oaky side of the fence.
Talbot is an ever-popular, ever-reliable name in St Julien. There is an aromatic quality to the Cabernet Sauvignon, supported by the juicy redcurrant and cherry character of the Merlot. The chalky tannins are well balanced by the wine’s natural freshness.
The 2017 Talbot was picked from 18 to 4 October using manual and optical sorting, matured in 50% new oak. It has a relatively light but well-defined, floral bouquet, pressed flower filtering through that blackberry and boysenberry scents, a little clove and bay leaf lending complexity as it opens in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine but firm tannin that frame the slightly savory black fruit, just a little earthiness developing towards the finish. It is a classic Talbot really, exactly what you would expect for the vintage. 2020 - 2036
Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Talbot is a little closed on the nose with subtle plums and blackberries notes plus hints of underbrush, black olives and wood smoke. Medium-bodied with a firm frame of chewy tannins, it has lovely freshness and a savory finish.
Deep crimson. Fragrant with both berry and leaf of cassis. Chalky texture but still fresh and just enough fruit to give a lively finish. Could do with a little more flesh in the middle but it is nicely scented. (JH) Drink 2023-2029
This is solid and structured with blackberry and currant character. Full-bodied, muscular and dialed-in.
The 2017 Talbot is powerful and dense, but also a bit rough around the edges, with burly tannins that add to that impression. It will be interesting to see if the 2017 acquire more finesse during aging. Based on the wine's persistence, there is a reasonably good chance that will happen. Intense blue/black fruit, gravel, smoke and licorice add to the wine's dark personality. Tasted two times.
Talbot has produced an elegant, fresh and carefully structured 2017. This has plenty of finesse and rich black fruit flavours with some floral notes and cedar. It shows great St-Julien balance, but again just lacks a little of the impact that has been evident at this property over recent vintages. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
The powerful, singular, graphite theme here is very enjoyable and the fruit is plush and focussed and it looks well-made and also smooth and long. With a polished feel throughout this is a proud Talbot and it is going to open up very slowly to reveal a rather ravishing creature. The tannins and acidity are both judged nicely and this will provide both early drinking as well as mid-term pleasure.
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. This is one of the most atypical, but nevertheless, very finest examples of the appellation. François Mitjavile’s distinctive St Emilion property, perched up on the limestone slopes above the town, escaped the frost and yet again has produced a wine with a huge spectrum of fruit and spice flavours. All 6 hectares were picked in one day by a team of 70 pickers. Mitjavile is a shaman amongst winemakers. The Tertre Rôteboeuf, which is aged in 100% new oak, carries its toast with such style one cannot tell where fruit spice ends and oak spice begins, even at this nascent stage. Sweet cranberry and rose petal aromas are enveloped in the juicy, supple, and delicious palate. This wine has exquisite sway and flow. Its finish is so long it occupies the memory long after we leave the cellar.
The 2017 Tertre-Rôteboeuf was picked towards the end of September (François Mitjavile said he was getting too old to remember!) The bouquet is a real doppelgänger for a Burgundy, perhaps something from Morey-Saint-Denis. It is certainly very pure, not as flamboyant as the previous two vintages but intense and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, grainy tannin. I love the salinity of this 2017...you can feel the mouth tingling long after the wine has departed. The acidity is very well judged, the oak seamlessly integrated and barely perceptible, a feat that I do not think any other Saint-Émilion achieves to the same degree as here. There are notes of sea salt and black pepper towards the finish, just a hint of tobacco. Both delicious and cerebral, this is a Tertre-Rôteboeuf that will benefit from four or five years in bottle. 2023 - 2040
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Le Tertre Roteboeuf offers up gorgeous wild blueberries, crushed blackcurrants and redcurrants notes with touches of lavender, violets, Sichuan pepper and cloves plus a waft of anise. The medium to full-bodied palate is very firm with ripe, grainy tannins and wonderful freshness and depth, finishing very long with some exotic spices coming through.
As on the other wines from the Mitjavile family that are aged in 100% new Radoux Blend barrels, in this vintage the oak and a charry character seem more noticeable than usual, though here it is offset by the pretty red fruit that is waiting in the wings: succulent, sweet dark-red and plum fruit. Juicy and fresh but does need to see the oak recede. The tannins are deep yet many-layered and fine. Rich and long. (JH) 14.5% Drink 2025-2040
The 2017 Tertre-Rôteboeuf is fabulous. Rich, deep and super-concentrated, the 2017 exudes intensity in all of its dimensions. A huge core of dark fruit, chocolate, leather, licorice and menthol all build as this unctuous, flamboyant wine shows off its pedigree. Beautifully resonant and explosive, the 2017 is a wine of total class.
There was no frost on this property. Dynamic, graceful and refreshing, this is a stellar vintage for Tertre Roteboeuf on account of the unique vintage conditions. It is so packed with flavour and yet this is a fabulously tender and musical wine. It is very rare to find this balance – a cold summer, but which also has perfect ripening has resulted in a rich and hedonistic wine but with a core of coolness and vivacity. A wine that is full of anomalous traits, this is a spectacular experience because there is so much going on, constantly twisting and turning around a core of exquisite freshness. I could still taste it an hour later.
Despite its long history, this sister property of Ch Giscours had remained in the shadows until the early 2000s. The 2017 has a delicate fragrance with a minty lift. The medium weight of the wine combined with small abundant tannins and dark cherry fruit deliver a classical Margaux profile.
The 2017 du Tertre was picked from 14 September to 2 October, matured in around 45% new oak. The blend has been 85% completed. It has a very pleasant bouquet, pure blackberry, briary and more iris than violet aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a fine line of acidity, very harmonious and for want of a better expression, appears to be a Margaux that wears its heart on its sleeve. This will be worth seeking out once in bottle. Tasted on three occasions.
Medium garnet-purple colored and composed of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the 2017 du Tertre gives expressive notes of black berries and cassis with pencil lead, bay leaves and lavender hints. The palate is medium-bodied with a good core of open-knit fruit and plush tannins lifted with great freshness, finishing on a perfumed note.
Deep crimson with black core. Lifted, but not very expressive at first, then a definite graphite note and an inviting dusty quality. Savoury dark fruit on the palate but juicy and fresh at heart. Fine tannins already surprisingly silky. Just enough depth of fruit on the mid palate to balance the supple tannins. Touch of oak sweetness and toast on the finish. More immediate charm than the Ch Giscours tasted alongside, more friendly. (JH) Drink 2025-2037
This is nicely done with currants, bright lemon and mineral character. Medium to full body, fine and silky tannins and a focused and vivid finish. Linear.
The 2017 du Tertre is a distinctly powerful, savory Margaux. A rich concoction of jammy dark fruit, smoke, leather, licorice, tobacco and game melds together in this pliant, inviting Grand Vin from du Tertre. All the elements are beautifully woven together in a silky, succulent du Tertre that will drink well with minimal cellaring. As always, du Tertre has a very distinctive wild character, but the 2017 appears to have more than enough depth to provide balance. Overall, this is a strong vintage for du Tertre, with lovely fruit presence and terrific balance.
This is a little softer in expression than the intense delivery of the past two vintages, but still has extremely well-expressed red and black fruits, layered together with grilled coffee and almond notes. It has silky tannins and an injection of juice through the mid-palate. Classic Margaux character. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
If flamboyant fruit is what you are looking for in your Pomerol, then VCC is not the wine for you. If, however, you covet finesse and balance, this is a no-brainer. Deep in colour, with lovely perfumed blueberry and plum fruit scent. Harmonious, elegant and subtle, with extraordinary layers. One of the highlights of the vintage.
The 2017 Vieux Château Certan was picked in three passages through the vineyard, 12 and 13 September, 18 and 19 September and finally 25 September to 2 October. The yields are 37hl/ha with 14.2° alcohol and a 3.75 pH. It is the first vintage to contain Cabernet Sauvignon for several years. It has a very pure, Merlot-driven bouquet with black cherries, redcurrant and wild strawberry scents, just a hint of iris and incense in the background. The 70% new oak is nicely integrated here. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, a deep well of black and red fruit interwoven with allspice, truffle, white pepper and a little sage. This Vieux Château Certan manifests more complexity and profundity as it aerates, delivering genuine, spine-tingling mineralité on the persistent finish. It gains even more precision when I return to the property to re-taste it again. Tasted twice, ten days apart at the property. 2023 - 2050
Composed of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Vieux Château Certan gives up gorgeous black raspberries, crushed black currants and warm black berries on the nose with chocolate-covered cherries, violets and star anise suggestions plus black truffles and wood smoke. The palate is medium to full-bodied with wonderful concentration in the mid-palate and firm, very finely pixelated tannins, with seamless freshness and fantastic length.
Deepest crimson with black core. Not much aroma at first because the sample is cool. Rich, firm, dark and more savoury than usual, darker-fruited. Great freshness. Has impressive depth without weight. Very fine shape, great refinement even now. Feels like it is coiled tightly for the future. Dark beauty with just a very slight char on the finish and a long graphite aftertaste. Cool nights kept the freshness. (JH) 14.2% Drink 2027-2047
This is a dense and compact center palate with a solid and pointed intensity. Full body, firm and silky tannins and an energetic finish. Complete. Harmonious.
The 2017 Vieux Château Certan is a rapturously beautiful wine. Dark, sumptuous and seamless in the glass, the 2017 is going to tempt readers early. This is the first vintage that includes a bit of young vine Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 2012 to complement the old-vine Merlot and Franc that are the core of Vieux Certan. A wine of exceptional balance and purity, the 2017 dazzles from start to finish. There is an element of tension in the 2017 that is incredibly appealing. "We are back to Bordeaux," adds Alexandre Thienpont in reference to the personality of the year as compared to both 2016 and 2015. The blend is 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, aging in 70% new oak.
They started harvesting in mid-September and then they waited a week and picked the ‘important stuff’ from 25th September until the 2nd October. This was important to get the tannins right in the skins. This is a much fresher, cleaner and less opulent wine than the last two vintages and Guillaume Thienpont describes it as an ‘intellectual’ vintage. The nose is incredibly bright with very direct black cherry notes and some mineral, stony tones, too. The previous few vintages have been later-harvested but this wine retains the freshness. This wine is born of a dry summer and they luckily escaped the frosts by half a degree. Apparently, 300ha in Pomerol were ‘frozen’. Their situation on the dome of Pomerol helped them. According to Alexandre Thienpont, ‘finesse means weak in English’, so he doesn’t use this word about the 2017 vintage. He prefers the word ‘classic’. The perfume is amazing and the silkiness and tenderness is evident. While the wine is not a heavyweight the colour is intense and this is thanks to particularly small berries. The old vines (in both varieties) and accuracy of work in the vineyards helped amazingly. The young vines had decent yields and the second wine is a success, too (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc). Two thirds of the yield went into the Grand Vin. The brightness of fruit is the overriding theme here and there is a gloss and freshness ratio which makes this a vitally compelling wine. ‘Academic’ was the last word I heard when I walked out of the cellar. They must have been talking about me!
70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon. This is a very good example of 2017’s floral, citrus and zingy balance. The delicate blossom aroma is given complexity and weight by the spice of light oak on the palate, and the volume of peachy fruit gives a little breadth. Medium in weight, refreshing and graceful.
The 2017 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc was picked from 31 August until 15 September via several tries through the vineyard that yielded 46hl/ha, with 13.5° alcohol. It has a very attractive, estuarine influenced bouquet with scents of cockle and oyster shell infusing the vivacious citrus fruit. This opens up very nicely with aeration in the glass. The palate is very well balanced with a fine bead of acidity. It feels quite saline and spicy in the mouth with a rather intense citric finish that is very persistent, the aftertaste again, quite saline. 2021 - 2045
A tentative blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sémillon, the 2017 Blanc opens with vibrant notes of freshly squeezed lemons, pink grapefruit and yuzu, accented by touches of lime zest and green apple plus a waft of crushed stones. Medium-bodied with lively acidity and super-intense, wonderfully expressive citrus flavors, it finishes long and chalky.
This is a dense and beautiful DC with serious density and a fabulous layering of fruit. Phenolics are there but they melt into the wine already. Love the acid/fruit balance. A solid and serious white.
The 2017 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is fabulous, but it is also going to need a number of years to be at its very best. Powerful and dense in the glass, the 2017 offers terrific brightness and cut, all backed up with serious structure. Smoke, melon, orchard fruit and mint are some of the many notes that develop as this gorgeous wine shows off its personality. Quite simply, the 2017 has class to burn, but readers will have to be patient. Tasted three times.
Very refreshing and very bright in spite of its intensity and dimensions, this is a very good wine indeed and it is the crisp, aromatic, razor sharp fruit (which so many other estates fail to capture) which makes this such a knockout. It will work well early on, but also hold well and I anticipate that it will never lose this vivacity and drive.
56.2% Sauvignon Blanc, 43.8% Sémillon. There is a symphony of apricots, mango, passionfruit, salty lime and frangipani flowers on the nose. The palate shows an intricate integration between tangy freshness and subtle oaky spice. This has depth and power delivered with the deftest touch.
The 2017 Haut-Brion Blanc was picked from 22 to 30 August. It has a slightly more intense and voluminous bouquet compared to the La Mission Blanc. I adore the nose here, so striking and precise with scents of freshly squeezed lime, dew specked green apple, orange zest and later apricot blossom, all with wonderful definition. The palate is medium-bodied with a tensile entry. There are notes of orange rind, fresh ginger and a touch of bitter lemon towards the persistent finish. It is an excellent Haut Brion Blanc that should offer 20+ years of drinking pleasure. 2020 - 2045
Composed of 56.2% Sauvignon Blanc and 43.8% Sémillon, the 2017 Blanc from Haut-Brion is a little more reticent on the nose than the La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, offering up subtle pink grapefruit, green mango and ripe pears scents with an undercurrent of baking bread, ginger and allspice plus a waft of lemon peel. The palate is medium-bodied with wonderfully generous tropical and citrus flavors accented by loads of spices, finishing long and savory.
A tight and linear white with an energetic line of lemon-rind and lime character. Medium to full body, bright acidity and a fresh finish. 56% sauvignon blanc and 44% semillon.
The 2017 Haut-Brion Blanc is totally seamless, with no real beginning or end. Creamy and deeply layered, the 2017 is simply magnificent. Lemon confit, chamomile, mint, and white pepper. There is a real sense of textural depth and weight to the 2017, even if the flavors remain very much on the bright side of things. I imagine the 2017 will age beautifully for many decades to come.
This could not be a more different wine than the La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, with massive power and muscle in addition to the devastating acidity. If anything this wine looks a little daunting and almost too hard and brittle. Of course, time will tell, but it is about as commanding and intense as any young white wine (from anywhere) I have ever seen. In endeavouring to dissect it and agitate the glass in order to shake out some more tender notes there are, indeed, linden blossom and lime zest details which will emerge in time. I have feeling that this wine might out-age me, such is its elemental force and belligerence.
This is an excellent follow-up to this estate’s storming 2016, with a lighter weight and nervous freshness. Winemaker Valérie Vialard has a golden touch with dry whites and the Ch Latour Martillac Blanc continues to offer some of the best value for its quality in the appellation. With charming aromas of apricots and ripe Mediterranean lemons, this wine has a delicious, tangy freshness. Some fine structure from light phenolic tension means it should cellar well.
The 2017 Latour-Martillac Blanc has a lifted linden, Granny Smith apple and nettle scented bouquet that opens nicely with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp acidity, fresh and focused with a satisfying sense of tension. It is a subtle Pessac-Léognan Blanc, unfolding in the glass to reveal light nectarine and stone fruit notes towards the finish. This is a strong performance from Latour-Martillac and it comes recommended. 2020 - 2035
A dense and salty white with loads of apple, lemon and lime character. Medium to full body. Vivid finish.
The 2017 Latour-Martillac Blanc is a powerful, intense wine that carries with it quite a bit of structure as well. Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine its bright, focused aromatics, while the Sémillon is felt in the wine's mid-palate depth and creaminess.
Blanc Delicious, fairy-light and very pretty from all angles, this is a lemony dream with tender fruit and minty freshness. The floral tones here are mesmerising and it is all delivered in an exquisitely balanced package. There is enough depth and acid here for this wine to age well, too.
A top class example of this great estate’s white wine. La Mission Haut-Brion is famed for the high proportion of Sémillon in its vineyards. The 2017, comprising 76.2% of the variety, has hints of quince and apricots, lifted by the zesty limey Sauvignon Blanc. The perfect blend of these two varieties, broad and mouth-coating, but also lively and fresh. A wonderful white Pessac-Léognan.
The 2017 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc was picked 22 to 31 August and matured in 38% new oak. It is very precise on the nose with lovely scents of orange blossom, Cornice pear, nettle and yellow flowers. The palate is well balanced with a slight waxiness on the entry. There is an underlying resinous quality to this La Mission Blanc with citrus lemon, Granny Smith apples, stem ginger and tangible mineralité towards the finish. This is a classy, sophisticated La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, one that is surpassed by the nascent Haut-Brion Blanc at the moment, but may have a trick up its sleeve with age thanks to the high proportion of Sémillon. 2022 - 2045
Blended of 76.2% Sémillon and 23.8% Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 Blanc gives up seriously intense notes of jasmine, grapefruit, lime zest and yuzu with touches of crushed rocks and lemongrass. The palate is medium-bodied with electric intensity and incredible tension, finishing long with many citrus fruit and mineral layers.
This is really layered yet tight and focused with searing minerality that gives it tension and energy. Full-bodied, bright and precise. Impressive. 76% semillon and 24% sauvignon blanc.
The 2017 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is dense and powerful, yet also super-expressive. Lemon confit, white stone fruit, crushed rocks and white flowers abound. A wine of real depth and phenolic-like intensity, the 2017 has a lot to offer. Even at this early stage, the wine's balance is superb. Creamy, layered and yet quite structured, the 2017 is absolutely gorgeous, even in the early going.
. Very strict and very firm, this is a spectacular wine with incredible tension and drive. The Semillon is back to being the dominant variety (after last year’s anomalous reversal of the blend) and this has brought a strictness and severity to the wine. Thrilling and closed with nail-biting tension, this is a wine which will have a very long life ahead of it. The sour lemon and white flower notes are exquisite. It is interesting in this vintage that the characters of each of the wines is so heightened and individual. It is as if they have been forced to exercise their own identity like never before and they have risen to this challenge.
This great value white stood out amongst its peers at the UGC tasting for its zesty, citrus aromas. Lemon pith and grapefruit flavours combine with the light spice of oak on the palate, and the wine has an excellent drive and lively, balanced finish.
The 2017 Olivier Blanc has a focused, energetic bouquet with citrus peel, Granny Smith, gooseberry and light saline aromas. The palate is very well balanced with a crisp, malic entry. This jolts the sense into action with sharp acidity although it avoids being shrill. There is something almost Muscadet-like towards the marine-tinged finish that does not quite deliver the complexity of the Carbonnieux Blanc tasted alongside. 2021 - 2040
This young white shows a wonderful finish. Ripe apples, lemons and some tropical fruit. Full-bodied, dense and layered. A line of vivid acidity runs through the center palate. Very nicely crated.
The 2017 Olivier Blanc is terrific. Green orchard fruit, mint, sage and tomato leaf are all given an extra kick of energy from the freshness of the vintage. The 2017 finishes with striking tension and salinity that merely add to its considerable appeal. What a gorgeous wine this is. The blend is 89% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sémillon and 1% Muscadelle.
A standout white in the Pessac-Léognan UGC tasting. This is vibrant and fresh with hints of limes and grapefruits. In the palate there is drive and energy, it is wonderfully intense and long. Excellent.
The 2017 Pape Clément Blanc was picked from 30 August to 14 September, 15% of the production is aged in 8-hectolitre egg-shaped concrete vats and Burgundy barrels (30% new) for a total élevage of 14 months. The nose offers citrus fruit, kaffir lime and white flower scents that need a little encouragement from the glass. The palate is well balanced with a fine line of acidity. Freshly squeezed lime with white peach and a touch of mango lead to a crisp, lemongrass-tinged finish. 2020 - 2030
A blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Sémillon, the Pape Clement 2017 Blanc gives up profound notes of apricots, spiced pears and apple tart with suggestions of orange blossoms, fresh ginger and beeswax. The palate is medium-bodied with plenty of tightly wound, intense stone fruit and spicy layers supported by fantastic freshness, finishing very long.
This is a layered and phenolic white with a creamy texture and serious ripeness and beauty. Full-bodied, yet vivid and energetic. Serious second wine.
A white of real distinction and class, the 2017 Pape Clément Blanc is textured, racy and super-inviting. Stylistically, the 2017 is more citrus and floral driven than in the past. Tropical notes and the more unctuous feel that are typical of the Blanc are present, but less overt than in the past. Above all else, in 2017 the Blanc stands out for its exceptional purity, nuance and delineation. The Blanc has been nothing else than deeply impressive on the four occasions I have tasted it so far.
There is an exotic almost musky note about this juicy wine which is beguiling and while I don’t normally like this style of wine with too much fat and structure this young in its existence, there is something fascinating about the richness and scent here. A truly hedonistic treat, this is a rather attractive wine.
This charming white is always a welcome respite when tasting in the Médoc. Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc it is rich, salty, and delicious, perfumed with hints of grapefruit and lime pith. It has a mouth-watering combination of creamy texture and crisp freshness, and leaves a long, mineral finish in the palate.
The 2017 Pavillon Blanc de Margaux was picked 28 to 31 August and cropped at 22hl/ha despite the frost, which is about average for the last four years according to winemaker Paul Boscule. The bouquet is clean and pure with orange blossom and red apple, dried pineapple aromas that are very seductive. The palate is well balanced with a tang of orange rind and quince on the entry, just the right amount of bitterness to keep this Pavillon Blanc on edge, nicely focused with a hint of lemongrass towards the finish. Excellent. 2021 - 2035
Margaux has a spraying system to combat frost at the Pavillon Blanc vineyard, but they lost a bit of production, with yields finishing at 22 hectoliters per hectare. The nose of the 2017 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux is a little reticent to begin, giving way to beautiful white peach, grapefruit and lemongrass notes plus hints of mandarin peel, honeysuckle, baking bread and just a waft of ginger. The medium to full-bodied palate is very crisp and super intense, laden with citrus and stone fruit layers, coupled with a lovely satiny texture and plenty of weight without feeling heavy, finishing with incredible length and a lingering mineral note.
This is very powerful with a super aftertaste of chalk, limestone, and crush sea shells. Full body, layered with phenolic texture that resembles a sleek red. Yet it’s fresh vivid all the time like the excellent white it is. The white pepper character combined with dried citrus is fabulous.
The 2017 Pavillon Blanc is simply magnificent. Gracious and translucent in the glass, the 2017 is a terrific example of the vintage at its best. The flavors are bright and wonderfully sculpted, with plenty of citrus peel, orchard fruit and crushed rock nuances that develop as the wine builds into its creamy, resonant finish. Pavillon Blanc is the highlight this year at Margaux.
Only 1000 cases made. With lower acidity than in previous vintages and a slightly elevated alcohol, this is a more exotic style of Pavillon Blanc and the flavour is tinged with pineapple and mango notes. While the finish is tense and fine, there is a lushness to the mid-palate which I find very attractive. In 2017 Margaux has decided to use Diam 30 corks…! I have no idea how these will age but they have been trialling this closure on and off for over ten years and they seem satisfied. ‘A screwcap is too big a change, and some people will not spot Diam!’. They understand that screwcaps perform perfectly but this is too much of a shock for consumers. I think Diam will be a shock, too. I hope that my score stands the test of time.
Despite their best efforts – burning old vines, wooden cases, wooden pallets, anything they could lay their hands on! – this magnificent Barsac estate lost 50% of its crop in April. But as with many other estates, the best blocks were spared, and so they have miraculously produced a normal amount of Grand Vin this year. The estate has a high proportion of old vines, with an average age of 40-45 years, which produce low yields from the sandy clay soils. This 2017 has a vibrant golden colour. Its aromas are a combination of sweet floral notes and bitter bergamot oil. That sweet/bitter sensation continues on the palate with flavours of crystallised ginger and Seville orange marmalade, followed by a long, generous finish.
The 2017 Coutet, which was tasted both as a final blend and directly from several different lots in barrel, has a very well defined bouquet with pure wild honey and orange blossom aromas that gain intensity with aeration. The palate is crisp and fresh, underpinned by Coutet’s trademark acidic drive that counterbalances the intense honeyed fruit laced with orange zest and white peach. Superb. 2022 - 2050
The 2017 Coutet has lovely notions of spice cake, fresh ginger and honeysuckle over a core of lemon curd, beeswax and preserved peaches. Rich, spicy and quite decadent in the mouth, it has wonderful freshness and depth, finishing very long.
66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot (their vines aged 80–100 did very well this year), 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Petit Verdot. Harvested 12–30 September. 60% new oak. pH 3.7, IPT 68. 40% of the harvest made it into the grand vin this year (it can be up to 60%), hence a very good Pagodes this vintage). Inky with black core and purple rim. Dark-fruited and lightly charry to give a savoury/fruit complexity. Extremely pure cassis. A little more chewy than the Pagodes but still remarkably silky, with clarity, precision and length but without excess richness. Deep and long. Amazing balance already. Great precision, helped by a decade of experience in the new chai, says technical director Dominique Arangoits. Opens in the glass to reveal a hint of something floral. Plenty of depth but no excess weight, and modest alcohol. (JH) Drink 2025-2040
The 2017 Coutet is very, very good. Nuanced and beautifully textured, throughout, the 2017 has quite a bit to offer. Silky contours add finesse to the orange peel, apricot jam, mint and spice flavors. Above all else, Coutet offers terrific depth while remaining light on its feet.
Rich sunflower yellow in colour, this has a good concentration of subtle spiced ginger on the nose, followed by rich citrus and apricot tart flavours, going almost as far as white truffles. It's gourmet without being cloying, thanks to those Barsac soils which give a wonderful freshness through the palate. The acidity is not quite as focussed as in classic years for the appellation, but it has zip and personality and is a clear success in this vintage. Drinking Window 2020 - 2038
Very clean, bright and rather magical. Not heavy in any way and yet very long and very satisfying. This is a refreshing and sensitive wine and it will appeal to all palates enormously.
The Ch Guiraud 2017 has the distinctive tropical aroma of pineapple juice. The natural sweetness of the vintage gives the wine’s body a viscous weight, which is supported by the generous spice of new French oak.
The 2017 Guiraud has a pretty and comparatively light bouquet compared to de Fargues, missing some of the complexity demonstrated by its peers at this early stage. The palate is medium-bodied and showing more class: viscous honeyed fruit, a touch of spice and mandarin. The finish feels elegant and quite long although it does not quite provide the riveting experience of some of the best Sauternes released this year. 2022 - 2042
The 2017 Guiraud gives notes of baked apples, crème brûlée and preserved mandarin peel with touches of crushed rocks and fungi. It delivers great elegance in the mouth with loads of spicy apple and savory flavors, finishing on an earthy note.
The 2017 Guiraud is one of the more bold, unctuous wines of the year. Orange marmalade, apricot jam, honey, flowers and sweet spices fill out the wine's unctuous frame effortlessly. Beautifully textured and ample on the palate, with tremendous resonance, has so much to offer. It will especially appeal to readers who appreciate the richer side of Sauternes.
Silky and concentrated, this is one of the successes of the appellation for me. It has lovely zest and zip, with touches of candied ginger and a fresh lift on the finish. It manages to give shade and light more than most in the vintage, but is just a little shorter than in some previous years. Very good quality, reminiscent of the 2009. Drinking Window 2020 - 2032
) There is an extraordinary barley sugar and honeycomb feel about this wine and it is refreshing and also exotic in equal measure. Not as fruity or tropical as many, this wine is all about depth of honeyed fruit and staggering grandeur!
A very refined Rieussec and slightly less ostentatious than some years, with a Barsac-esque elegance and harmony. Gentle flavours of acacia honey and fresh orange peel lifting the finish. A blend of 83% Semillon and 17% Sauvignon, this is a wine of gorgeous quality and great finesse.
The 2017 Rieussec was affected by the frost, losing around 15% of the production although, it was more located in parcels that are designated for the dry white R de Rieussec. Eric Kohler told me that it was a relatively rapid picking. It has around 125gm/L residual sugar. It has a clean but slightly distant bouquet, does not really exude the richness that you expect from Sauternes. The palate is medium-bodied and more promising than the nose: a viscous opening, quite spicy and slightly Auslese in style. The acidity is well balanced and it becomes increasingly lively towards the lychee and fennel-tinged finish, as if compensating for the nose. 2022 - 2048
Blended of 83% Sémillon and 17% Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 Rieussec gives up beautiful notes of orange marmalade, beeswax, acacia honey and yuzu with touches of lemon tart, grapefruit pastilles and musk perfume. The palate is full, rich and unctuous with incredible layers of citrus and honeyed fruits, finishing very long and perfumed.
The 2017 Rieussec captures the natural intensity of the year, while also remaining faithful to the house style that is now favored by the estate. A high percentage of Sauvignon Blanc (17%) adds freshness and lift to the passionfruit, pineapple, mint and lemon confit flavors. Beautifully harmonious and persistent in the glass, the 2017 has so much to offer. In this tasting, it is simply tremendous.
This is an effortless Rieussec that's elegant and harmonious, displaying a wonderful quickening through the mid-palate compounded by a confident and energetic uplift on the finish. It has an excellent silky texture, and although the acidity and sweetness play off against each other, they could go a little higher. They were 15% affected by frost here, but only on plots used for their second wine and dry white wine. Drinking Window 2020 - 2040
Incredibly stylish, full-bodied and loaded with burnt orange notes, this is an amazingly detailed wine and one of the finest vintages of Rieussec in recent years.
This estate has once again produced one of the most exciting wines of the appellation from 100% Sémillon. Laure de Lambert Compeyrot runs this small, charming family estate with passion and flair. Ever inquisitive and admiring of her neighbours, she does things her own way at Sigalas Rabaud. The 2017 has an aromatic quality that awakens the senses, with lychee, pear and sugared almonds. The base of the blend comes from the large second pass through the vineyard and the wine is lower in residual sugar than many others this vintage at 130g/l. The palate has a nimble weight thanks to its bitter apricot edge and salinity on the finish.
The 2017 Sigalas-Rabaud is primal and missing the same delineation as its peers on the nose. The palate is much better with intense botrytized fruit, spicier than say Suduiraut or Rayne-Vigneau and it fans out with a sense of confidence and brio towards the finish with a dash of ginger on the aftertaste. This has great potential but it will need time to really enter its stride. 2022 - 2045
The 2017 Sigalas Rabaud is a little cedary to begin, giving way to a good core of spiced pears and warm peaches notes with hints of honeysuckle and chanterelle mushrooms. The palate is wonderfully crisp, lifting the decadent richness, finishing long and fruity.
The 2017 Sigalas Rabaud offers good depth, but is also a bit rough around the edges. It will be interesting to see if the 2017 finds a bit more finesse during its aging. The lemon confit, floral and lightly tropical notes are finely sketched, although a touch of angularity remains. Even so, this is nicely done.
Laure has been selecting only the best plots for this wine for several years, increasing production of her dry whites elsewhere in the vineyard. This has a spicy white pear flavour on the attack, followed by quince and citrus, and white pepper on the finish. Lovely balance with real personality, no problems with acidity here. Drinking Window 2019 - 2032
94% Sémillon, 6% Sauvignon Blanc. The majority of the blend is made up of fruit gathered in the third pass through the vineyards, and the wine has a sweet honeysuckle and honeycomb aroma. 140g/l residual sugar gives weight and unctuous richness to the palate, with a bite of Seville orange bitterness cutting through the sweetness.
The 2017 Suduiraut was picked via three tries, with 75% of the crop picked in the second tries from 4 to 15 October. The harvest finished on 19 October, one of the last in Sauternes and after Yquem. “We were touched by the frost but not in the top terroir,” winemaker Pierre Montegut told me. It is matured in around 50% new oak. It has an expressive, harmonious bouquet with dried honey, white flowers and a touch of gripe water (a children’s medicine for those in the United States. I have been informed there is no equivalent on the other side of the Atlantic). The palate is well balanced with a viscous opening, well judged acidity, plenty of botrytized fruit with a long, lightly spiced finish that feels so fresh and vital. This is a superb Suduiraut from Pierre Montegut and his team. 2023 - 2050
The 2017 Suduiraut has a compelling brininess to the nose with a core of lemon curd, lime cordial and green mango with touches of musk perfume and chalk dust. The mouth is very rich and packed with decadent layers, with just enough freshness and great length.
The 2017 Suduiraut stands out for its stunning interplay of botrytis-inflected richness and freshness. Candied orange peel, passionfruit, mint and lemon confit are some of the many notes that develop in the glass. Medium in body, with terrific freshness and energy, Suduiraut has so much to offer. Only the fruit from the last two picks made it into the Grand Vin.
There was a little frost here, but none of it affected the best plots. This is a vintage with botrytis affecting grapes that were ripe but not overripe and so there was a lot of acidity in the grapes in addition to the botrytis. This brings a peculiar balance and while, in theory, this should make a long-lived wine but in practice it actually changes the balance of the wine and brings freshness to the whole. Lovely!