Expectations have been very high on the Right Bank with this 2015 vintage. In fact, the growing season was impeccable, but unlike the Left Bank, which suffered some serious downpours around harvest time, the Right Bank saw a great harvest with many growers being afforded the opportunity to pick exactly when they wanted to. So, everyone should see fabulous ripeness and very similar levels of high quality, right?
In fact, with Merlot able to attain complete ripeness, winemakers had to decide whether they wanted to produce a lighter, more elegant wine with more freshness and complexity or a blockbuster.
Picking started early at Vieux Chateau Certan and Clos l’Eglise for instance, while most producers waited at least two weeks longer to start harvesting. Normally, everyone usually waits until Petrus starts harvesting. (The concept is, I if Petrus decides it is the right time, then it must be.) The difference…enormous!
Let’s start with the Pomerol Appelation.
Many negociants think of it as this vintage’s winner along with Margaux. Wines are bright, show depth and pretty elegance, all mixed in with an amazing approachability. Quite a few producers are working in biodynamic agriculture (even if not yet certified) and freshness and purity have definitely being invited to this ball.
Tasting at the UGC in Chateau Beauregard was a little disappointing. Only a dozen producers showed up so it made it a little difficult to understand the appellation’s overall quality
Standouts: Eglise Clinet (though huge and unusually closed up), Beauregard and Petit Village
Superstars: Clinet, with very precise, pure fruit, freshness, complexity (notes of dark licorice and Indian spices), la Croix de Gay and le Bon Pasteur.
Top wines: la Conseillante and its Duo, very reminiscent in quality of Palmer and Alter Ego, with Merlot as the fabulous varietal allowed to mature to its full potential. Bravo to Marielle Cazeaux on her first vintage! And Clos l’Eglise, deliciously elegant with silky notes of spices and dark fruit
But, but, but: never got to taste le Gay, Vieux Chateau Certan, l’Evangile, le Pin or Petrus. So, in the end , a very incomplete look at the Pomerol appellation. My spies tell me that VCC is a rock star, this year. We will see
In St Emilion, A trip to the UGC tasting at La Couspaude revealed that the split between producers interested in making pleasant, round wines and those willing to push the envelope a tad, was obvious and was further accentuated with later tastings at other properties.
Standouts: Beausejour Becot, Canon La Gaffeliere, La Dominique, La Tour Figeac
Superstars: Troplong Mondot as a massive wine, Barde Haut as terroir typical (“Let’s go back and make St Emilion wines,” says Patrice Leveque) and Chapelle d’Aysone and Tertre Roteboeuf, both totally hedonistic.
Disappointment: Pavie Macquin. Maybe my palate was off, but the other two wines on the table, ie Berliquet and Larcis Ducasse were both more pleasurable, even as babies.
All 1ers Grands Crus Classes, Pavie, Angelus, Cheval Blanc and Ausone will be reviewed along with left bank first growths later.
So, while Right Bank wines showed in a very different fashion, it is obvious that winemakers were provided by nature the ability to make the wine they enjoyed. Our personal preferences in style will guide us towards some favorites, but the overall quality of grapes and winemaking in both St Emilion and Pomerol has to please most everyone this year