Wow Wow! Anyone who’s traveled in France is familiar with the high-speed TGV trains that run at over 200-miles-an-hour. Last week was so crazy, we feel as if one of those bullet trains ran us down!

The “train” was the release of “in-bottle ratings” for the 2016 Bordeaux Vintage from Antonio Galloni, Neal Martin, James Suckling and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. NEVER, ever has there been so much enthusiasm for a vintage!!! With a record number of 100-points ratings, everyone is jumping on the Bordeaux 2016 train.

And we’re still waiting for all of Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast’s scores to release. Undoubtedly, there will be additional 100-points evaluations.

So who’s sitting at the front of this locomotive so far?

First and foremost is Château Mouton Rothschild, with a remarkable four 100-points ratings (!!!!) We also loved Mouton when we tasted during en primeur and consequently purchased a large number of cases. However, we blew through that inventory with non-stop demand last week. So, we bought more (at a higher price) then sold out and bought more. Unbelievably, we sold out again and re-bought. Mouton has clearly been anointed the Megastar of the vintage. Grab it while you can.

Marla & Michel at Château Haut-Brion en primeur festivities.

But then there are a number of 2016 Superstars, all in high demand: Château Haut-Brion, always a mighty presence, received three 100-points ratings and had wine critics swooning. Antonio Galloni called the 2016 Haut-Brion “a wine of nearly indescribably beauty…(with) an extraordinary sense of harmony.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown, writing for Parker’s Wine Advocate calls it “achingly stunning.”  James Suckling says flat out: “It can’t get better than this, can it?”

Vieux Château Certan, one of our personal favorites, also received three 100-points ratings as did Cos d’Estournel, whom we felt produced one of  their all time best offerings in 2016.

2016 en primeur tasting at Cos d’Estournel — one of our early picks earned three 100-point scores. Photo by Marla Norman

Other estates winning 100-points include Châteaux Palmer (who received 100-points in 2015 as well) Pichon-Lalande, Tertre-Rôteboeuf, Pavie and Figeac.

Château Margaux, the darling of the 2015 Vintage, received three 99-points awards for 2016. Many will remember that the en primeur price for the 2015 Margaux was $500, but after several 100-points ratings the price has settled at an eye-popping $1500 per bottle!

Château La Mission Haut-Brion also scored several 99 & 98 scores as did Beauséjour-Duffau. In fact, Beauséjour-Duffau may be the very best deal out there, priced at $119.99 with a 99-points rating from Antonio Galloni who stated: “I am simply blown away by the wine’s intensity, explosive power and overall pedigree.”

More great scores from the Right Bank at Châteaux Angélus and La Conseillante — with 99-100 & 98-points. Château Barde-Haut, a place close to our hearts, scored an incredible 96-points from Galloni. And this is a wine under $40. Bravo Hélène & Patrice!

Prices for Château Mouton Rothschild have increased dramatically since the “in bottle ratings” were released. Photo by Marla Norman.

Now for a bit of bad news….as mentioned previously, the abundance of great ratings is creating a surge in customer interest. As a result, many Châteaux have already sold out of their initial tranche or their en primeur offerings, approximately 80% of the estate’s output. Now, a year later, near release time, another 5% or so is available in a second tranche. With the high ratings, the offerings will be repriced at a sizable increase. Of course, if the wine continues to sell well, a little more will be made available at yet another higher price. As an example of this fluctuating market, the Mouton Rothschild that we currently sell for $598.99 is now being offered to us for €540 or $621.

Fortunately, the news for most wine lovers is excellent, since 2016 was an extraordinary vintage in general. Meaning that not only did the First Growths and Super Seconds perform well, but the region as a whole produced brilliant wine and there are fantastic values down the line.

Critic Neal Martin, who awarded five 100-points scores for this vintage — the most in his 20-year career — recounts his first impression of the 2016s: “Their elegance, purity and poise, the intensity of fruit, the articulation of respective terroirs, and that oft-forgotten virtue, how bloomin’ delicious they tasted. My overriding feeling was that Bordeaux had been heading towards the 2016 vintage since the late 1990s. It was a year when everything just came together at the right moments.”

If you read our last blog — Is this the Golden Era for Bordeaux? — you’ll know we absolutely believe that wine in Bordeaux has never been so well-made, and furthermore, that the current weather patterns (for now, at least) are helping winemakers to make the wine they want to make.

Final Word: If you didn’t buy during en primeur, snatch the last few bottles of this exceptional vintage. And, while you’re at it, pick up a few of the 2015s, 2009s and 2010s as well, just to guarantee yourself some of the incredible pleasures to come.

Château Margaux, considered the top wine of 2015 scored three 99-point ratings in the 2016 vintage. Photo by Marla Norman.

Château Mouton Rothschild. AG-100 NM-100 RP-100 JS-100. $598.99. 16b
Château Haut Brion. AG-100  JS-100 RP-100 $569.99. 41b
Château Cos d’Estournel. NM-100  RP-100  JS-100. $199.99. 54b
Château Figeac. NM-100. $199.99. 10b
Château Palmer. AG-100. $319.99. 17b
Château Pavie. JS-100. $367.49. 28b
Château Pichon Lalande. AG-100. $194.99. 12b
Château Tertre Rôteboeuf. AG-100. $179.99. 13b
Château Angélus. JS-99. $367.49. 6b
Château Beauséjour-Duffau. AG-99. $118.99. 24b
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. JS-99. $198.99. 12b
Château Larcis-Ducasse. JS-99. $79.99. 12b
Château la Conseillante. JS-99. $198.99. 20b
Château la Mission Haut-Brion. NM-99. $429.99. 6b
Château Margaux. JS-99 RP-99.  AG-99 $599.99. 12b.
Château Pichon Baron, JS-99. $154.99. 28b
Château Calon-Ségur. JS-98. $129.99. 12b
Château Valandraud JS-98. $164.99. 12b

Michel with Marielle Cazaux, winemaker for Château La Conseillante at en primeur 2016. Photo by Marla Norman.

More Great Scores (check out the prices!)
Château Clinet. RP-97. $99.99. 32b
Château Malartic-Lagravière. WE 96-98. $58.99. 12b
Château Brane-Cantenac. 96-98 WA. $69.99. 32b
Château d’Issan. JS-96. $64.99. 12b
Château Branaire Ducru. WE 95-97. $57.99. 12b
Clos du Marquis. JS-95. $54.99. 21b
Château la Lagune. JA 94-95. $48.99. 24b

Hélène Garcin & Patrice Lévêque, owners of Clos L’Eglise and Châteaux Barde-Haut, Poesia & d’Arce, pour for us during a wine dinner at Château Barde-Haut. Also in the photo are Cory & Hillary Fosdyck, Kami & Chuck Ransom and Nicki Robins.

The Very Best Buys
Château Barde-Haut. AG-96. $38.79. 44b
Château Cantemerle. WE 94-96. $31.99. 36b
Château Fonroque. RP-95 $36.99. 18b
Château Bellefont Belcier.  JS 94-95. $39.99. 24b
Château la Tour Carnet. WE 93-95. $28.79. 24b
Château Fombrauge. AG-94. $25.99. 21b
Château Poesia. AG-93.  $34.79. 60b

A Few Other Treats
Dry White: Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc. JS 96-97. $116.99. 8b
Sweet White: Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. JS 98-99. $52.99. 48b
Red Daily Drinker: Château d’Arce. JD-92. $18.99. 120b