The 2016 First Growths are back on top! What they offered with this vintage that other wines did not, was that gourmand creaminess that makes you want to not stop drinking and the promise of amazing longevity.These wines are expensive, no doubt. But increased knowledge, better tools and equipment and commitment to quality are making these wines better buys. Funny but true.
Château Lafite Rotschild had been a disappointment to me for the past few years. How could a wine costing this much money not wow me? Well, 2016 delivered big and this is definitely one of the wines of the vintage. Beautifully fashioned and stylish, with a gorgeous nose. (Unfortunately, I found the second wine Carruades’s nose was completely muted.) This is the Lafite you can spend your money on!
Lafite Rothschild – MTW 99-100
Château Margaux, whose blend includes 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, a little Merlot and Petit Verdot was quintessential elegance. Very perfumed, loaded with depth and complexity, the wine offered enormous volume. A beautiful, beautiful wine!
Margaux – MTW 97-100
Château Mouton Rothschild, rated 100 points by James Suckling, was a disappointment to me. Just as Lafite was a symbol of precision, Mouton seemed to be disjointed, a little hollow in the center. The wine was mid-bodied and I would have liked a little more “ meat.” I intend to review again, perhaps I missed something.
Mouton Rothschild – MTW 94-96
Château Haut-Brion was sampled with the entire group of Jean Bernard Delmas wines (including Quintus from Saint-Émilion, as well as Château La Mission). James Suckling gave the wine a 100 points rating and for now, I don’t understand why. When compared to La Mission, Haut-Brion suffers, both in terms of purity and concentration of fruit. Will Haut-Brion better its neighbor with time? Possibly.
Haut-Brion – MTW 96-98
We tasted Château Latour as well, but since the wine won’t be released for many years and will likely change a whole lot by then, we will not review it now.
On the Right Bank, Château Cheval Blanc’s nose was quite muted at first, but then both red and black fruit, and flowery tones came through. What I will recall about this wine was its powerful creaminess. The wine was quite satisfying although with Petit Cheval being so good this year, I am not sure I would spend the extra money, unless the price is such a good deal…
Cheval Blanc – MTW 96-98
After previous tastings at Château Angélus, I was a bit skeptical. Why? The wine is usually very concentrated and gritty, with a mouthfeel that takes over everything. This year was somewhat different. Sure, the wine is still huge, but its other dimensions bring relief to the taster and tannins are already somewhat integrated. This wine will be beautiful as it shows signs of great complexity. A very positive sign from the De Bouard group.
Angélus – MTW 97-99
Unfortunately I was unable to taste Château Pavie, and rather than posting someone else’s review, I will wait until I’m back in Bordeaux this Fall to comment.
I saved the best for last: Château Ausone was this year’s epiphany, along with Château Palmer across the river. The wine was absolutely perfect. Round, pretty, at times feminine and at others bolder, offering that tension that many winemakers are fearful of (because they think they may be penalized for it). There is only one problem with this wine: as usual, too little is made, and even too little of the magnificent second wine Chapelle d’Ausone. Ausone should keep for decades. Wow!
Ausone – MTW 100
For many years, Pessac-Léognan has been overlooked as a top Bordeaux producing region, and it is only through Châteaux Haut-Brion and La Mission that the region has experienced some notoriety. And yet, the numbers speak for themselves:
Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2009 – 100 pts
Château Pape Clément 2009 & 2010 – 100 pts
Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009 – 100 pts
Château Haut Bailly 2009 – 100 pts
When you add the 100 pts ratings for La Mission in 1955, 1959, 1982, 1989, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 plus the 100 pts ratings for Haut Brion in 1945, 1961, 1989, 2005, 2009 and 1989 for the Haut Brion Blanc, you have to be seriously impressed!! 2016 certainly delivered again in this appellation.
At Château Pape Clément, Bernard Magrez says: “2016 is an unexpected but magnificent vintage.” His Pape Clément, a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot, shows aromas of dark cherries, blackberries and violets. Mid to full-bodied, this wine is fresh and beautifully supple.
Pape Clément – MTW 95-97
“Le Gout du Bonheur” (a taste of happiness) is how Véronique Sanders, a principal with Château Haut-Bailly, labels her wine. High phenolic content (the hundreds of chemical compounds that affect the taste, color and mouthfeel of wine) combined with round tannins and dark colored fruit, both powerful and elegant, characterize the wine. Another resounding success!
Haut-Bailly – MTW 97-99
Château Smith Haut Lafitte describes 2016 as “the catastrophe that never was.” Fabien Teitgen, managing director, says: “After April, all I could see were negative things…until I saw that the old vines were actually doing quite well. By mid-September, the white grapes became very aromatic and the red tastier with each passing week.” Dark fruit, lots of intriguing spices and teeming complexity in this vintage.
Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge – MTW 96-98
Château La Mission Haut-Brion, the Talence superstar blew me and other members of our group away! Incredible depth, beautiful balance, freshness and roundness…all we could ask a wine to offer was there. A stunner.
La Mission Haut Brion – MTW 99-100
We’ll keep you posted as pricing becomes available for these 2016 vintages. As of now we can offer the 2016 vintage from these highly-performing properties:
Château Labegorce, Margaux – WE 94-96, $27.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Château d’Armailhac, Pauillac – JS 95-96, $42.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes – JS 98-99, $45.99 per bottle, 4 cases available.
Château Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien – WE 95-97, $50.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Château Fombrauge, Saint-Émilion – JS 93-94, $23.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Château la Tour Carnet, Haut Médoc – WE 93-95, $27.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Château Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe – WE 96-98, $149.79 per bottle, 2 six-packs available.
Pagodes de Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe – WE 93-95, $42.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Tertre Roteboeuf, Saint-Émilion – WD 98-100, $155.99 per bottle, extremely limited availability.
Château Roc de Cambes, Côtes de Bourg – WD 93-95, $48.99 per bottle, 5 cases left.
Domaine de l’Aurage, Côtes de Castillon – WD 93-95, $26.99 per bottle, 3 cases available.
Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux – JS 95-96, $62.99, 2 six-packs left.
Château Clerc Milon, Pauillac – WE 93-95, $64.99 per bottle, 2 cases available.
Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc – JS 96-97, $109.99 per bottle. Only 1 case available.
Château Magrez Fombrauge Blanc – JS 94-95, $25.99 per bottle, Only 1 case available.
More Incredible Buys!
Bond Melbury, Napa – New Release, $479 per bottle. $100 below lowest internet price! Only 1 six-pack available.
Bond Quella, Napa – New Release, $479 per bottle. $100 below lowest internet price! Only 1 six-pack available.
Dominus 2013, Napa – 100 points, $259.99, 6 bottles available.
Opus One 2013, Napa – 100 points, $239.99, 4 bottles available.
Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Napa – $89.99, 4 bottles left.
Château Yquem 2009, Sauternes – 100 points, 375 ml $299, $200 below the lowest internet price! 1 case available.
Château Malartic-Lagravière 1988, Pessac-Léognan, double magnum (3L) $369.99, 3 bottles available.
Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal Rouge 2003, Rhône – RP 99, $177.99, 3 bottles left.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 2010, Saint-Julien – $238.99, 4 bottles left.
Château Cantenac-Brown 2010, Margaux – $69.99, 6 bottles available.
Finally, Our Best Sellers
Henri Boillot Bourgogne Blanc 2015 – $22.99, 9 cases left.
Château de Montigny Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé NV – $16.99, 11 cases left.
Château d’Arce 2014, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux – $15.99, 13 cases left.