En Primeur: Bordeaux 2016

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En Primeur: Bordeaux 2016


It is hard to believe that it has been a year since we were in Bordeaux tasting 2015 barrel samples. Touring the cellars to taste the latest vintage brought a sense of déja-vu: beaming chateaux owners poured the 2016 vintage and it’s clear to see why they were happy: the latest offering is great and could be even better than 2015.

And the sun was shining. The blue skies and warm days over en primeur week lifted our moods – all except for the motorcyclist in St.-Emilion who we had to stop and and help after falling off his bike on the treacherous slope up to Chateau Ausone (he drove away unhurt).

If you are a Bordeaux lover, you might regard the hype with a hint of suspicion. After all, there were claims that 2009 and 2010 were the best vintage ever, then came 2015. Once you taste the wines, you will realise that you need to make room in your cellar for 2016, as it is hugely impressive and has its own distinctive character.

Pierre Seillan of St.-Emilion’s Chateau Lassegue offers a simple way to understand the product of the last two harvests: 2015 is a vintage of power; 2016 is a vintage of power and finesse.

Across the board, from the Right to the Left Bank, this is a winning vintage. The very best chateaux have understandably excelled but the B- and C-list properties have truly outperformed and this is why this could be a great vintage for those seeking value: here are many wines in the £20-30 range that will provide exceptional drinking.

In general, the wines are superbly balanced, offering modest alcohol levels; ripe, sweet fruit with plenty of ripe tannin and refreshing acidity. Of course, there are some failures that are dense, overextracted, overoaked wines that lack freshness but they are in the minority. What’s most evident this year is that the wines truly reflect the place that the come from whether it’s Pauillac or Pomerol; St.-Estephe or St.-Emilion.


Appellations: hits and misses (or mainly hits)

It’s clear that on the Left Bank, the northern end of the Haut-Medoc enjoyed the greatest success: the top appellations were St.-Estephe, Pauillac and St.-Julien.

In Margaux, there were successes but it was less homogenous than neighbouring appellations.

Pessac-Leognan was also mixed. There were some outstanding wines: Chateau Haut-Brion was hands down one of the most exciting visits of the en primeur week.

On the Right Bank, St.-Emilion did reasonably well. There are lots of fine wines yet in this huge appellation, you must be vigilant and selective.

Pomerol – the finest producers on the very finest sites have made some of the most exciting wines of their lifetime. Last year, Vieux Chateau Certan’s, Alexandre Thienpoint told me his 2015 effort was the best wine he had ever produced, comparing it to 1947 and 1982. This year, he drew comparison between 2009 and 2010 – the pairing of 2015 and 2016 mirroring what had come less than a decade earlier: 2010 and 2016 were years that truly reflected the place they had been grown whereas 2009 and 2015 quality was alike.


The Top 10 Red (If money is no object)


My Top 10 Value Reds

  • 2016 Chateau Lassegue, St. Emilion
  • 2016 Chateau Calon-Segur, St. Estephe
  • 2016 Chateau Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan
  • 2016 Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot, St.Emilion
  • 2016 Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Leognan
  • 2016 Chateau Capbern, St-Estephe
  • 2016 Clos Lunelles, Cotes de Castillon
  • 2016 Goulee by Cos d’Estournel, Medoc
  • 2016 La Chapelle de Potensac, Medoc
  • 2016 La Croix, St Estephe


“2016 is an exceptional vintage equal to the exquisite 2015. In some regions like St. Estephe and the Northern Medoc, the wines are even better. ’’

James Suckling, leading wine critic.

“Between, 2015 and 2016, I’m not sure which vintage is better at this stage.’’

James Suckling, leading wine critic.

“I have so far tasted some absolutely stunning reds (I have even been tempted to give a few scores of 19 out of 20 – virtually unheard-of for me).’’

Jancis Robsinson, leading wine critic.

“It’s a year of stunning quality and there are numerous properties that have made the best wine in the history of their estate.’’

Jeff Leve, wine critic.

“This is as good as Bordeaux gets.’’

Mathieu Chardonnier, CVBG.


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You can do this by submitting your details here.


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