We are cautiously optimistic. Reports, and information obtained by our own Bordeaux buyer Jacques-Etienne le Clerc, suggest that there is both quality and quantity in the Bordeaux 2016 vintage. It seems that we may have the first run of excellent back-to-back crops since 2009 and 2010 – although we aren’t suggesting that the quality is quite at the level of those two headline years.
Bordeaux endured a wet spring that, rather fortunately, proved to be crucial given the drought that was to follow during the glorious summer months. Warm, sunny weather was enjoyed for almost 12 weeks in some communes and history tends to suggest that dry vintages are typically quality vintages too… Furthering the theme of good fortune, the region was not affected by the severe frosts and hail that struck so many other areas in France during the year.
It would seem that the estates that possess mainly clay based soils are likely to have made good 2016s. Water is retained so well by clay, so the vines would have been stressed, yet, able to access water during the long sunny summer days. Old vines are of benefit too, with their vast roots being able to access the plentiful water sources deep underground.
Yields are generally higher than those of recent vintages and the grapes show a good acidity – slightly at odds with the conditions maybe, which would typically favour smaller berries and less concentration. Clearly this isn’t a vintage without its problems though. Some grapes are likely to have lacked some of the acidity found in wetter and cooler conditions and it has been commented that some of the whites, in particular, have suffered as a result.
Can 2016 be compared to another vintage? Is the 2016 vintage a Cabernet year – many suggest the hot conditions were perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – could it have been too hot for Merlot? Is there more quality across the board than in 2015, and do some wines eclipse their counterparts? These are some of the questions that we will seek to answer when we taste the 2016 wines next week in Bordeaux.We look forward to sharing all of our thoughts with you on our daily blogs and through Instagram and Twitter.