As ever, there has been much written about the vintage prior to the UGC tasting week in April and we arrived in Bordeaux looking forward to seeing for ourselves just how good the 2016 vintage would actually be as we look forward to tasting several hundred wines at over 30 châteaux and 7 Union des Grands Crus tastings at all of the major appellations in the week ahead.
Typically quick to announce his reviews and ratings of the wines, James Suckling released his first set of scores a week or so ago and declared 2016 to be “exceptional” and “equal to the exquisite 2015”. He does qualify this to state that he is “not sure which vintage is better at this stage” though.
These scores do appear to indicate a preference for 2016 corroborated by an average Liv-ex score of 96.3 points compared to an average of 95.5 points for 2015.
We spent the morning whetting our palates at a négociant tasting in Margaux and it provided a tremendous opportunity for us to taste many wines from Margaux to Pessac-Léognan, St Julian to Sauternes and everything else in between. We found wines which show styles that, apart from last year tasting the 2015s, we haven’t seen for many years. Ripe and generous fruit, fine-boned silky tannins and good acidity, all coming together in a pleasing harmony.
We moved on to St Estèphe in the afternoon and found three headline wines of truly excellent quality at Chateau Montrose, Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Calon Ségur. Chateau Calon Ségur really stood out as a truly magnificent wine with all the component parts coming together in a compelling beauty. This balance and harmony appears to be an early hallmark of this vintage. The nose on Chateau Montrose is abounds with perfumed floral aromatics even at this early stage of our tasting - and the palate is truly beguiling before leading to a wonderfully long and finely textured finish.
Today was a first for many of us in the wine trade given that we tasted the Chateau Lynch Bages stable at Chateau Ormes de Pez and all of their wines were absolutely brilliant. Chateau Lynch Bages is so precise and serious, with a coiled, powerful structure yet has a wonderful roundness on the finish. It could be a really fine wine. Freshness and harmony – all the watchwords of balance, structure, ripe juicy fruit and tannins, seem to combine for the best wines of 2016. This St Estèphe trio, along with one of Pauillacs finest, really impressed us, they are tremendous wines.
It is too early to make any definitive assessments of the vintage, but there is great promise here and we continue to be optimistic that 2016 is another fine vintage in Bordeaux. It will be fascinating to see how wine the wines on the Right Bank compare tomorrow when we head to Pomerol and St Emilion.
I should also point out that these are merely reviews of the wines and not recommendations to buy at this stage. The delicate matter of pricing is yet to be decided and until we have a clearer understanding of where these wines will be positioned, we cannot make any conclusive recommendations. We will report on this information when we are able to in the coming weeks.
We’ll be posting updates every day, so keep an eye out for our team’s reports throughout the week.
Jon White, Head of Marketing