2017 LOOKS TO BE YET ANOTHER VERY GOOD VINTAGE
Hot streak of very good vintages in Bordeaux continues and it looks like 2017 will be the best vintage ending with 7 since 1947, making four very good to exceptional vintages in row.
1947 was followed by 1948, 1949 and 1950, with 1947 and 1949 being monumental ones, 1950 rare and excellent especially on Right Bank and 1948 very good indeed.
2014 is very classic Bordeaux vintage vintage of splendid quality, 2015 and 2016 are exceptional ones rivalling 1947 and 1949 while 2017's potential is to be seen but it looks promising. Bordeaux people say there are similarities in 2017 vintage with 2014, 2011, 2012 and 2004. Certainly, it won't be another 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009 and 2005.
Dry whites will be of very good quality and sweet whites looks extremely promising with plenty of botrytis.
Red harvest finished on both Banks in the end of September/beginning of October, most places it was a long one and quality of grapes was depending of the time of the harvest because of rain on the 10th September. For sure, it'll be a winemaker's vintage. However, frost in April did make damage in the lower situated vineyards especially on the Right Bank and cut down significantly the yield per ha.
I visited Bordeaux between 5th October and 12th October - here are my impressions:
Thursday the 5th October
As usual I came to Seguin shortly after landing in Merignac. Seguin lost app. 95% of buds during three days of frost in April, when temperature was minus 5 degrees C during the night. They have only 20 hl of Cabernet Sauvignon divided betwen two vats, but are unsure, if there will be Grand Vin or second wine as result after vinification.
In the meantime they kindly opened vintages 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2009 for me.
2009 had ripe black/red fruit on the nose and palate, was tasty and complex with good bite and finish. 92p.
2010 displayed very attractive cherry nose and was tightly crafted, powerful with great complexity and structure, excellent acidity and length. The best vintage for Seguin ever by any means - stunning effort! 95+p.
2014 was a cool and quiet vintage than the mighty 2010, really stylish and classic Bordeaux with great acidity, depth, structure and fine balance, Definitely a long keeper. 93p.
2015 reminded in some way of 2010 but was rather scaled down. Excellent sweetness and balance, splendid support of oak to the fruit, long aftertaste. 93-94p.
2016 was impressive with more tension, concentration, acidity and complexity compared to 2015. Beautifully structured and with long finish. 94p.
Friday the 6th October
I had as always wonderful time at the property. Francois Mitjavile was so kind to let us taste 2016 and open 2015, 2012 and 2010 of Domaine de Cambes, Roc de Cambes and Tertre Roteboeuf. I tasted together with Francois and a pair of American wine-lovers. Before going in clinch with forementioned vintages, we had a snip of 2017 vintage. Fermented sample from the vat had deep colour, roundness and elegance. Promised a lot.
Domaine de Cambes 2016 - blueberry compote, aromatic, veru fruity, silky and tasty. 89p. This vineyard is situated between Garonne and Roc de Cambes.
Roc de Cambes 2016 - impressive, great aromatic nose of blackberries, great complexity and length. 93p.
Tertre Roteboeuf 2016 - magical, something extravagant, fabulous fruit and tannin, rich and sophisticated. Bull's eye! 98+p.
Domaine de Cambes 2015 - fine ripeness, intensity and length, seductive, tasty and round. Delicious! 90p.
Roc de Cambes 2015 - powerful, splendid all the way, catchy aroma of black fruit, delightful complexity and long finish. 93p.
Tertre Roteboeuf 2015 - sensual, aromatic, incredibly sophisticated, refined, silky liquid. Exceptional for the vintage.98-99p.
Domaine de Cambes 2012 - supple, round, attractive, tender with fruity finish. 88p.
Roc de Cambes 2012 - more of everything here than in Domaine de Cambes, also more C.Sauvignon in the blend. Tastes just so well. 90p.
Tertre Roteboeuf 2012 - very complex, smooth and tender, very aromatic, great structure and length. Really impressive for the vintage. 95p.
Domaine de Cambes 2010 - stron and powerful, full of ripe fatty fruit and tannin, long finish. Simply impressive. 91p.
Roc de Cambes 2010 - strong and powerful, lot and lot of fat fruit and tannin, mega long finish. Iron fist in velvet glove - this is exactly what this wine is!
Tertre Roteboeuf 2010 - what an intensity, opulence, richness, length, depth, velvety fruit and tannin, silkiness all over. Wow!! 100p.
After Tertre Roteboeuf, I enjoyed a great lunch at La Table de Catusseau in Pomerol, an excellent restaurant which hastily grows in reputation.
As always interesting visit and tasting with Dominique Vayron and her viticultrice daughter, Frederique. We tasted vintages 2014, 2015, 2010 and 2008.
2010 was truly a monster wine like iron fist in velvet glove. Frederique revealed that the yield in 2010 was as low as 22 hl/ha. This explains the fatness and impressive concentration, intensity and length of Bourgneuf! 95+p.
Dominique and Frederique Vayron saved Bourgneuf from frost damage in April 2017 by using candles with paraffin among vines in joint forces with neighboring properties and are pretty optimistic conncerning 2017 vintage.
Jacques Thienpont told me that the harvest was very close to normal and frost didn't affect at all the vineyard. I tasted two samples of 2017 after alcoholic fermentation - one from 18th years old parcel and one from 40 years old. Both were very promising.
Jacques Thienpont were so kind to let me taste 2016 and 2015 Grand Vin. 2016, which is 100% Merlot, with low yield per ha (only 28 hl!) and for the first time harvested entirely in October Very distinguished, refined, rich, velvety wine with stunning complexity and depth. 98-100p. One of the best wines in 2016 vintage, that's for sure. 2015 wasn't quite up to 2016, another style, more red fruit and barely that noble and kinky as 2016. 94-95p.
Quick vist at the property and meeting handyman Omri. I tasted following wines:
2016 Pensées de Lafleur had great, stylish nose with intense aroma of blueberries, silky and polished palate, very complex and with persistent fruity aftertaste. Great balance here. Beautiful second wine. 93p.
2016 Lafleur (55% Cabernet Franc) was big, broadshouldered wine with classy and sophisticated nose of black fruit, velvety texture, rich, incredibly complex and long. Distinguished beauty to remain beautiful for many, many years. 98-100p.
Omri told me that 2017 looks very promising and that frost didn't have any affect on the vineyard.
Walked in among very busy time in the cellar during vinification and managed to taste vintages 2016 and 2008. Very strong effort in 2016. Incredibly intense on the nose with blackberries and blueberries, iron-dirt (truffy taste), tight and very concentrated on palate, with great richness, depth and structure. Perfectly ripe fruit and tannin covered in silk. 97-98p.Alexandre Thienpont let me taste 2008 too, which was of course a down scaled version of 2016 with good structure and complexity.94p. He told me that he was satisfied with 2017 grapes and initial tasting of samples from vats.
Saturday the 7th October
Took a break from chateaux visits on Right Bank and went to Bordeaux. Ate my lunch at cult place La House du Pata Negra in Bordeaux' most famous market, Marché des Capucins. Great choice of tapas and they just tasted delightfully. The choice of vegetables, fish, meat and olivers at Marche des Capucins is just breathtaking!
Sunday the 8th October
Visited local market in Libourne. In the afternoon I went back to Bordeaux and had my evening meal at restaurant Comptoir Cuisine just next to Grand Hotel. The food wasn't great - I'd say rather bland.
Monday the 9th October
Les Carmes Haut Brion
Guillaume Poithier, LCHB's technical manager and me arrived at the same time at the property, he by car, me walking from nearby bus stop. Bus nr. 4 from Bordeaux centre reached it in 20 minutes. He's always so enthusiastic and passionate, so it's great pleasure to spend some time in his company. LCHB didn't experience any frost in April 2017 as the vineyard is well sheltered and temperature here is alwais 2-3 degrees higher than out in the country. Please notice that LCHB use biggest amount of Cabernet Franc in the blend of all properties at Left Bank.
I was allowed to have some tasting sample of 2017 from a vat - tasty, round, reduction, smoky, reminded somewhat of Hermitage. Great future. 50% whole bunches was used in vinification. Some wine info - 13.2% alcohol, acidity 3.5 and Index Polyphenol Totale =70.
2016 LCHB - 41% C.Franc + 39% Merlot + 20% C.Sauvignon. 13.8% alcohol, IPT=80. Thick aromatic nose with essence of blueberries, very concentrated yet refined, incredibly complex, precise and focused. Impressively long finish. Certainly a wine to compete with big guns in this vintage! 96+p.
2015 LCHB - 44% C.Franc + 32% Merlot + 24% C.Sauvignon, 14% alcohol, IPT=75. This wine had a beautifully scented (rose bush parfume) nose, refined and intense, you could feel/taste the precision, purity and length of this wine. More concentrated than in recent vintages. Impressive stuff, which will even be better for sure. 95+p.
This time I was kindly offered to taste line-up of 2014s. As usual, Turid Alcaras, head of PR department, was my host.
Clarendelle line is made from purchased grapes by HB's wine staff.
Clarendelle Bordeaux - round and tasty, quite linear, fruity with good finish. Perfect for immediate consumption. 87p.
Clarendelle St.Emilion - more forward and decveloped than Bordeaux one, spicy, tasty, round and pleasant. 86-87p.
Clarendelle Medoc - best one of three Clarendelles served. Potent and aromatic on the nose and palate, meaty finish. 88p.
Saint-Emilion (declassified Quintus) - also really nice, fruity, nice texture, good structure and length. 86p.
Le Dragon de Quintus
La Chapelle de La Mission HB
Le Clarence de HB
La Mission HB
La Clarte de HB
La Mission HB
I had an excellent vertical of Haut Bailly - vintages 2016 to 2008. Check out profile of this property in chapter "Chateau profiles". Despite some frost damage in April, the owner, Veronique Sanders Van Beek is pretty satisfied with the first wine "steps" of 2017.
Tuesday the 10th October
Very interesting tasting of Pavillon Rouge, Ch. Margaux and Pavillon Blanc in vintages 2015 and 2016, together with two very important men at Chateau Margaux - general director Philippe Bascaules (right) and property manager Sébastien Vergne (left).
This property under management of Dominique Befve produces very seductive, elegant and classic Margaux styled wines, especially since 2010 vintage. There are now new offices and reception room. Lascombes PR-manager, always smiling Karine Barbier, presented all three grapes varietes separately used in final blend of 2016, second wine Chevalier Lascombes 2016 and final blend of 2016, plus vintages 2015, 2014 and 2010.
Merlot 2016 - fine fruity, aromatic, gentle, round and silky.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 - grilled bacon, tobacco/tobacco leaves, acidity and body.
Petit Verdot 2016 - backbone, structure, concentration and length.
Chevalier Lascombes 2016 - 50% Merlo + 50% C.Sauvignon. Round and tasty, fruity, quite intense, well-balanced, soft finish. PLeasure to drink in few years time. 88p.
Lascombes 2016 - big, full, complex, precise and focused wine with pretty fruit and tannin, well-defined, elegant, fine acidity. Persistent finish. Impressive stuff. 94p
Lascombes 2015 - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Big, full, complex, more concentration and power than usual. Precise and focused wine with pretty fruit and tannin. Liquid silk with a lot of sweetness. 94+p.
Lascombes 2014 - classic coolish style, great acidity, finesse and elegance, harmonious and with persistent finish. 93p.
Lascombes 2010 - elegant monster, fat and creamy texture, all wrapped in silk. This wine has really turned on all its cylinders after so-so period in barrel. After bottling it was only one way concerning quality - up! 93+p.
Some minor damages in the vineyard because of April frost were recorded, but these didn't affect Grand Vin, so very good vintage a la 2014 for instance is expected.
Marquis de Terme
This is a property in Margaux commune, which in the recent years has heavily invested in upgrading facilities and expecting significant rise in quality. Present technical manager; Ludovic David, has arrived here in 2009. The wine here is a stylish and elegant one but imho it lacks a bit of personality and excitement. Ludovic David kindly opened vintages 2016, 2015 and 2014 for me.
2016 - elegant, fruity. fine complexity, harmonious, finesse, stylish with silky finish. 92p.
2015 - more concentration here than in 2016, less elegance and finesse, a bit alcoholic on the nose, fine acidity and persistent finish. 92p.
2014 - overall a correct made wine which surprisingly lacks acidity, so characteristic and present in Bordeaux wines in this vintage. 88p.
On my request, vintages 2016 and 2014 were served. Concerning 2017, Palmer's technical staff was very stasfied with the quality of grapes broght in during harvest.
2016 Alter Ego - 40% Merlot + 48% C.Sauvignon + 12% Petit Verdot.. Fine acidity, perfectly ripe fruit, fine sweetness and complexiity, well-structured and with long finish. 93p.
2016 Palmer - 47% of both C.Sauvignon and Merlot + 6% P.Verdot. I felt a little bit disappointed over barrel sample of this wine back in April this year but half a year later, it showed significantly better. More intensity and length. More complexity too. 96p.
2014 Alter Ego - 52% Merlot + 35% C.Sauvignon + 13% P.Verdot. Strong, powerful, obvious acidity, shows cool Bordeaux style. Great stuff. 92p.
2014 Palmer - 45% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Big and corpulent wine with great richness, high acidity, strong backbone, great depth and long, long finish. At the same time it was powerful and elegant wine with sophisticated touch. Among top wines in this vintage. 96p.
Wednesday the 11th October
I had a very nice tasting with Charles Fournier, PC's commercial and marketing director. On my request we tasted 2016, 2015, 2013 and 2008. Before that we went to the cellar and tasted samples from several parcels of 2017 after alcoholic fermentation. Both Merlot and Cabernet ones promised well.
2016 was just insanely impressive, just like in April and September 2017. 98p.
2015 suffered from bottle shock after recent bottling.
2013 was Nicolas Glumineau's first vintage and an extremely difficult one. New cellar wasn't quite ready, some deliveries of wine equipment were late, so there was some stress among staff. Anyway, Nicolas Glumineau and his staff managed to deliver a very good wine. Extremely rigorous selection resulted in "miniscule" yield of only 20 hl/ha. The wine's 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Roasted/grilled bacon on the nose, tobacco leaves, round, fruity and spicy. Already drinkable with nice fruity finish. Nod bad at all. This wine is sold out from the property - I guess many restaurants have bought it. 90p.
2008 was made by previous winemaker. I liked this wine a lot from barrel in October 2009 but 8 years later it's obvious that baby fat has gone and that the wine suffers a little bit from overdone vinification and resembles old style of the property. I have to retaste it in few years time. 91p.
Great, great visit and a fantastic possibility to taste 2015 and 2016 vintage of 4 wines, D'Armailhac, Clerc Milon, Le Petit Mouton and Grand Vin. All wines performed excellently!
2015 d'Armailhac - 60% CS + 29% M + 9% CF + 3% PV. Sweet fruit, fine acidity, fine structure and fine complexity, splendid length, delicious grained tannin and smooth finish. Bottled in March/Apriil 2017. Great effort. 92+p.
2015 Clerc Milon - 56% CS + 24% M + 13% CF + 1% PV + 1% Carmenere. Same sweet fruit and tannin as in d'Armailhac, same style and quality as well. 92+p.
2015 Le Petit Mouton - 78% CS + 17% M + 5% CF. Bottled in June 2017. Same fine acidity, structure and finish found in forementioned wines. A bit lighter though. Peppery on the palate. Fine quality indeed. 91+p.
2015 Mouton Rothschild - 82% CS + 16% M + 2% CF. Refined, sophisticated, rich, excellent complexity and structure, great acidity and powerful finish. Immensly complete wine. 98p.
2016 d'Armailhac - 62% CS + 28% M + 8% CF + 2% PV. More intensity and length here compared to 2015 version, more distinguished wine. Excellent effort. 93p.
2016 Clerc Milon - 55% CS + 29% M + 13% CF + 2% PV + 1% Carmenere. Twin brother of d'Armailhac. 93p.
2016 Le Petit Mouton - aromatic, elegant and seductive, splendid backbone, structure and fruity finish. 92p.
2016 Mouton Rothschild - 83% C.Sauvignon + 15% Merlot + 1% C.Franc + 1% P:Verdot. Aristocratic nose of blackberries, cigar box and tobacco leaves, classy stuff with great acidity, velvety all over, stunning richness and structure, excellent complexity, powerful finish. Immensly complete wine. Probably the best wine of the vintage. 100p.
At Mouton Rothschild they have great hopes for a classy vintage 2017.