Bordeaux 2016 on course to be best vintage since 2010 say leading producers

More positive signs are emerging about the quality of the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux as many of the region’s producers look to give the trade a sneak preview of the wines ahead of en primeur at this week’s The Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux tasting in London.

Despite a difficult growing period the stars aligned for a particularly hot August and September, which was then hit by rains in mid September which many growers are saying tipped the balance towards this being one of the best vintages in years. Even by recent Bordeaux standards.

The trade will get the chance to taste for themselves at the invitation only Grand Cercle tasting which takes place on March 15 from 4.00 pm to 9.00 pm at Le Méridien Piccadilly in London.

What makes the Grand Cercle tasting so interesting is that it was set up by Alain Raynaud to showcase the best of Bordeaux from all regions on the Left and Right banks and not just the very best Chateaux. Producers have to go through strenuous blind tastings to be considered for inclusion in the Grand Cercle, but it now includes 164 properties (51 from the Left bank and 113 from the Right bank) covering 27 appellations.

As well as this week’s London tasting, the Le Cercle will also be organising similar events in the US across two key cities like New York and San Francisco and then over in Hong Kong.

No doubt excitement will have increased even further for the 2016 vintage by then as leading Bordeaux winemakers queue up to proclaim what  a great vintage this is.
The latest is Dominique Febve, technical director at  Château Lascombes’, and backed up by his consultant, the legendary Michel Rolland who have claimed that the 2016 vintage is going to surpass that of 2010, which is widely regarded as being the best of this century so far.

Lascombes produces a high proportion of Merlot grapes, making up half of the 2016 output, with the remainder comprising 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot.  ‘There is an almost Pomerol like quality to the wine which has really benefitted the wine’s mouthfeel and texture. It’s difficult to make comparisons, but the tannins in 2016 are more like 2009 than 2010,” he told Decanter.

Jean-Valmy Nicolas of Château Conseillante told Decanter  last week that ‘our 2016 is, in my view, the best La Conseillante we have ever made. I can’t speak for other châteaux, but this is a hugely exciting vintage for us.”

The difference being the long, hot and dry summer that created the ideal growing conditions, he said.

“For some the yield has been reduced. But we had a very hot growing period in July and August and the quality is very high. It is very classic Bordeaux, the acidity is not too low, it has good expression, and ripeness and subtle tannins. So it is exciting.”

Raynaud says the signs are also good for the 2017 vintage, with everything going in the right direction. “We have had a very cold winter in Bordeaux, with is good for the vines, and we have now had some rain. It’s a long walk but things are going in the right direction.”

What is particularly encouraging is that alcohol levels are around the 13% mark, lower than in 2009 and 2010 when many wines topped 14%.

  • Please note the Grand Cercle event is by invitation only.
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Neville Blech

Qualified as a chartered accountant in 1959 and became passionate about food and wine whilst working in Italy in the early sixties.

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