Perfectly ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Chateau Seguin, October 2016
Birth of 2016 vintage - it will be a beautiful child.
1. Bad beginning of the spring but perfect flowering, resulting in average yield.
2. Fine summer and no rain in almost three months; the welcome rain came at the end of September, 40-60 mm, just what vines needed: Sunshine, sunshine, and sunshine.
3. Harvest took over one month in many places with big differences between day and night temperatures, allowing perfect ripeness of grapes inside and outside, freshness, and many aromas.
4. All grape varieties did excellently. High ITP (Index Total Polyphenols) like in 2010.
5. It Looks like 2016 will follow in the steps of 2010 and 2005 vintages.
1. Les Carmes Haut Brion - Manager Guillaume Pouthier says 2016 will probably be his best vintage. Barrel samples were extremely promising.
2. Haut Bailly - many samples of 2016 juice after alcoholic fermentation. C.Sauvignon and Merlot from over 100 years old vines. Cellar master Gabriel Vialard has been extremely satisfied with what he has in vats/barrels! The best vintage for the property in the last 50 years!
3. Bourgneuf - also great expectations for 2016 from the Vayron family.
4. Lafleur - stunning 2015 and 2014, all smiles for prospects of 2016.
5. Belle Brise in Pomerol - extremely promising 2016 juice.
6. Olivier Bernard from D.d.Chevalier compares 2016 white to the 2009 vintage and 2016 red to the 2010 vintage. He says there was no rush to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon grapes as there was plenty of time to wait for optimum ripeness.
7. Cantenac Brown - great visit, several vintages to taste in red (2015-2014-2013-2012-2011-2010), and also white Brane Cantenac (Alto), which was surprisingly well-made. Great 2015 red, which edged 2010, fine 2014, and 2011 while 2012 gave very much pleasure. Great hopes for 2016 here, also.
8. Moutte Blanc - a property in Macau, produces 100% Petit Verdot cuvée called Moisin, also other cuvées. I tasted 2015 and 2014. I liked 2015 better; fine quality for the money. Moutte Blanc is produced from vines growing in Haut Medoc and near Monbrison in Arsac from 0.75 ha 100% Merlot. The latter vineyard got permission from INAO to use Margaux appellation on the label beginning with the 2014 vintage. Splendid 2015 for both Moutte Blancs.
9. Seguin (Pessac-Leognan) - fine 2014 and 2015, 2016 promises quite a "paradise".
10. Great, great visit at Figeac, 1.5 hours entertaining visit with the winemaker Frederic Faye, significant improvements are visible. Fabulous 2015 vintage with excellent focus and precision, 2016 maybe even better, says F. Faye. I tasted vintages from 2012-2013-2014-2015. 2012 is F. Fayes' first vintage at Figeac, but he's been at the property for 14 years.
Very happy Frederic Faye, winemaker at Figeac since the 2012 vintage. He thinks 2016 may be even better than 2015 vintage!
11. Tertre Roteboeuf - 2016 promises heaven but 2015 TR was otherworldy!
12. Jean-Luc Thunevin - tasted several 2014s from his portfolio and a few 2015s. Jean-Luc was absent from traveling abroad. Very impressive 2014s here, including Grand Vin, splendid 2015 Bad Boy, 2015 Bad Boy Syrah, and 2015 Bad Boy Chardonnay. Also, here is a big expectation for 2016!
Another version of Bad Boy, and it tastes just fine!
1. My friend persuaded me to go to Chateau Julia, a property well-hidden from the beaten tracks in the neighboring commune to Pauillac, Saint-Laurent. It's run by a woman, Sophie Martin, who, before creating Julia, sold her grapes to a cooperative. Exceptionally well-made wines, which would be even significantly better if she had the necessary funds to buy better equipment.
Julia is both Haut Medoc wine and Pauillac wine, meaning it has vines growing in both appellations. The latter has vines growing on excellent soil between Lynch Bages and Latour. Despite many attempts from chateau owners in the area to sell her vineyard in Pauillac, she firmly refuses to do so.
2. Visiting Chateau Tour Saint Christophe. Fascinating to visit because of Chinese investments in Bordeaux. Peter Kwok created Vignobles K group in 2014, and it owns five properties on Right Bank, Haut Brisson and Tour Saint Christophe in Saint Emilion, Enclos Tourmaline and La Patache in Pomerol, and Enclos de Viaud in Lalande de Pomerol. The experienced Jean-Christophe Meyrou is the manager of the group.
One Saturday in October 2016, I visited Tour Saint Christophe, a property situated magnificently on the border of Saint-Emilion and Saint-Christophe des Bardes. The view from there towards Troplong Mondotte is breathtaking. I tasted the 2015 vintage of all properties except Enclos de Viaud. Haut Brisson (90% M+10% CF) had earthy flavors, ripe black fruit and tannin, a strong backbone, acidity, balance, and a persistent finish. 89p. Tour Saint Christophe (80% M+20% CF) was a much better wine with more power, concentration, and depth than HB. Ripeness of both fruit and tannin was better here. Delightful wine for keeping. 92-93p. La Patache (85% M +15% CF) from the sandy part of Pomerol showed violets and black fruit. Also, some extraction and earthy flavors were slightly tiring (racking?). Quite a good one. 88-89p. Enclos Tourmaline (100% Merlot), which 1 ha vineyard consists of four different plots in the best part of Pomerol (Le Plateau Argileux), is made in a very modern style with the vinification of whole clusters, 100% new oak, etc. For my taste, despite this wine's splendid intensity and acidity, it tasted a bit overdone and too extracted. But many people like that style. 92+p.
They are enthusiastic about the 2016 vintage at Vignobles K. I hope they will back down with considerable extraction and including stems at Enclos Tourmaline, so 2016 will be fruitier and fresher. Nevertheless, it's a property to follow closely in coming vintages.
Great view from Tour Saint Christophe towards Troplong Mondot
Sandy gravel, limestones, and clay - components of great soil here
3. Grand Cercle tasting 85 reds in vintage 2014 and 20 whites in 2015. Reds were up and down; Saint Emilions were the best. Whites were of excellent quality. Tasting occurred at Chateau Croizilles, close to La Mondotte and Tertre Roteboeuf. You can't miss seeing it while driving by because of the orange-red painting of the building outside. View from here to the vineyards of Saint Emilion/neighboring communes is simply priceless!!
Tasting notes of 2014 reds and 2015 whites will soon appear in the chapter "Horizontal & Vertical tastings" drop-down menu "Vintages."
85 2014s in red to taste at La Croizille
Simply magnificent view over vineyards in Saint-Emilion from La Croizille
2016 vintage samples of different grape varieties at La Croizille - great future! Please notice the deep, deep color of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon!
In addition to Grand Cercle wines, I could taste fresh samples of 2016, 2015 La Croizille, 2010 La Croizille, and 2010 sister chateau situated nearby, Tour Baladoz, thanks to Hélene de Schepper and the cellar master who prepared samples. 2016 samples of each grape variety promised a lot and indicated that this vintage would be splendid even at lower classified properties. 2015 La Croizille was just silky and delicious, very aromatic and tasty. 70% CS and 30% Merlot! 2010 La Croizille reminded me a great deal of 2015 but had a slight flavor of figs and prunes. 50% of CS and M. 2010 Tour Baladoz, 80% Merlot + 20% CF, was a delicate mouthful with silky raspberry fruit and tannin, elegant and tasty.