A glimpse of the 2016 Bordeaux wines
GRAND CERCLE 2016 PRIMEURS TASTING
It’s early, really early to get an idea of what the 2016 Bordeaux wines are going to be like.
Already there is talk from the vignerons that 2016 is going to an outstanding vintage. With 2015 already being hailed (justifiably) as the best vintage since 2010, is 2016 going to surpass it?
At a tasting in London of wines from the 164 member strong Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux organisation, we got an early glimpse. Now these are not the top Château Premier League producers of Bordeaux but a very credible bunch of Championship players, the mainstay of the preservation of the reputation of Bordeaux wines and represent what we may typically expect from this vintage. And as we know from the recent FA Cup exploits, Championship sides can go a long way.
So, first of all, what is the difference between the 2015 and the 2016 vintage? Nicolas Robin, of Ch. Rol Valentin and others, explained in one word. Acidity. There is a lot more acidity in the 2016 wines and the balance of the acidity and fruit results in a perfect harmony, uplifts the exuberance of the fruit, makes for the long keeping of the wines, whilst at the same time are supple enough for early drinking. 2015, on the other hand are more blockbuster wines with higher alcohol all round, but with nevertheless fullness and roundness destined for exciting drinking.
This exuberance of fruit in the 2016 showed particularly in the wines from the right bank, making wines from lesser appellations such as Fronsac, punch well above their expected weight. However, I found this exuberance a little less obvious on the left bank wines, but as I have said, it is very early days yet.
For me, the outstanding wine of the tasting was the super cru Magrez- Fombrauge, produced from an enclave of just 1.7 hectares within the 58 hectare vineyard of Ch. Fombrauge itself. Rated 5 stars in Wine behind the label, it certainly lived up to the rating, with this vintage of Fombrauge itself meriting 3 star PLUS. What is really astonishing is that whilst Fombrauge is a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, the Magrez-Fombrauge is only classified as Grand Cru.
Other Saint-Émilions not far behind and provisionally rated 4 stars were Rol Valentin, Fonroque, Laroze and Sansonnet. All displayed exuberantly sweet black berry fruit, soft tannins with that streak of acidity to give the wines added complexity.
But what was really exciting to find was the superb quality of some of the wines from the lesser right bank appellations, with Fronsac scoring particularly high giving 4 stars to Dalem and Haut-Carles and 3 stars PLUS to de la Dauphine, de la Rivière and Villars
As I have said, wines from the left bank rated a bit behind the right bank ones, with my top rating of 3 stars PLUS going to the Margaux La Tour de Bessan, but note the unusually high proportion of Merlot (60%) in the blend. The same rating went to The Winemaker Collection – wine made from vines grown in a unique plot in Ch. d’Arsac (Margaux) by a guest winemaker. The 2016 was made by Hubert de Boüard of Ch. Angelus – so here the right bank connection may have something to do with the rating!
For me, the Médocs fared better than the Graves for generosity of fruit, with Arcins, Lestage Simon, Malescasse and de Villegeorge (all Haut-Médoc), Haut-Breton Larigaudière (Margaux) and Sérilhan (St-Estéphe) clocking up 3 stars from me, but I did give the same rating to Roquetaiilade la Grange and Saint-Robert “Cuvée Poncet-Deville” (Graves) and Haut Lagrange (Péssac-Léognan).
Just a quick note on the whites. I didn’t find anything particularly outstanding (Magrez-Fombrauge got the best score at 3 stars PLUS), but they are going to be good keepers if perhaps a little on the light side. The sweet wines, although displaying a fair dollop of noble rot, are not going to have the intensity one expects from a great vintage.
However, the reds………….