The good, and for us wine lovers, exciting news, is that we found excellent wines from across all of the communes today. We tasted hundreds of wines at five UGC tastings in the Medoc, St Julien, Pauillac, Sauternes and Margaux and were impressed by the overall quality throughout. Combined with the great showing of wines from St Estephe, St Emilion and Pomerol from days one and two, it highlights the strength of Bordeaux 2016.
Interestingly, it appears that the Bordelaise were only aware that they had such a strong vintage a matter of weeks, rather than months ago. Omri Ram of Château Lafleur told us that it was the period in early autumn which made the vintage. We had heard prior to coming to Bordeaux that a wet and cold spring was followed by a very warm summer with prolonged droughts reported across most of the region. What we had heard less about, was the moderate conditions from around the 10th September that just let everything settle down and for the grapes to ripen slowly. This enabled the vines to produce the wonderful fruit, acidity and freshness that we are reporting.
2016 is another vintage, like 2015, which is hard to compare to another. What is clear, is that the wines are elegant, fine and charming. Freshness has been a recurring watchword when describing the wines and combined with the precision and classic character along with soft, present and approachable tannins, they make for a delicious result.
The best wines also display the concentration, persistence, vibrancy and touches of sweetness, length and multi-layers of fruit that create the complexity of flavour that's associated with the very best years.
Rather like 2015, 2016 seems to sit in a quality level in between the top four vintages of the last 20 years (2000, 2005, 2009 or 2010) and everything else that remains. Some critics and reports have likened the wines more closely to these stellar years, and perhaps the wines will eventually be viewed more widely as such. The wines really are excellent and there is certainly a strong argument to position 2016 above 2015 in the pecking order.
To our minds, this is certainly not a Left or Right Bank, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon vintage. There are fantastic wines to be found from all communes and from blends with various proportions of these two major grape varieties, as well as Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
It is hard to make definitive decisions about a wine’s quality at this young age, when they have been maturing in barrel for such a short time. However, we have a team of buyers and tasters who have been doing just that for the last 10 years. The team are also devoted wine lovers and have the privilege of tasting many vintages of the worlds finest wines. It's a fortunate position, of course, but highly relevant too when making assessments of how wines will evolve in some cases over the next 20-30 years and more. The role of the wine merchant this year will be to firstly, identify from a very long list which are the best wines and for what reasons they should be recommended, and then secondly, to assess the market when the prices are released and provide a compelling argument for why they should be bought. And that is exactly what we intend to do.
Look out for our team’s next dispatch from the region tomorrow.
Jon White, Head of Marketing