Another year, another campaign but this year was one of the more enjoyable En Primeur tastings since 2010. The VCL team enjoyed a rare foray out of the office and swapped the ‘Big Smoke’ for the South of France. Our two day trip to Bordeaux gave us the opportunity to sample the 2016 vintage from both the Left and the Right Bank.
The vintage itself has been hailed as a potential great, albeit it is quite early to say we would certainly be inclined to agree. However it must be said, that if it were not for the late rains then there was a chance of a repeat of the 2013 vintage; fortunately those rains did arrive much to the relief of the Bordelais and the wine consuming world as we know have a serious vintage on our hands. The critics are purring, Janis Robinson has confirmed that there are ‘absolutely stunning reds’and Jeff Leve (who we bumped into at Clos Fourtet) goes one further and exalts that ‘numerous properties that have made the best wine in the history of their estate’.
In the eyes of the critics the quality is high and we could not agree more! Polished, integrated tannins with good levels alcohol give this vintage great potential for aging with most wines that we tasted being surprisingly drinkable given their age (or lack of).
So as the world’s biggest critics descended on the South of France we started our whistle-stop tour on the Right Bank. Figeac, Vieux Chateau Certan and Ausone were some of our stand out wines, with Chateau Angelus, La Conseillante and Cheval Blanc also showing well. Overall the Right Bank has produced some fantastic wines with the Merlot being of absolute top quality this year.
The Left Bank began with an early start at Chateau Latour and although we will have to wait to get our hands on the vintage the quality is exceptional! We were fortunate enough to sample the 2005 vintage which is sublime (even at 9.30am!). Both Pichon Baron and Pichon Comtesse have excelled this year and Palmer may well have been our pick of the day, an absolutely stunning effort and on the whole Margaux and Pauillac have produced top draw wines.
James Suckling argues that 2016 ‘is a Left Bank year’ and we could not have agreed more. St Estephe sees stiff competition with Montrose and Cos d’Estournel challenging for top spot this year. St Julien again has excelled, no surprise as the region is consistently good year on year, Ducru Beaucaillou is a delight, as was the hospitality. And lest we forget Leoville Las Cases, who have produced top notch wine.