von Bernhard Hlavicka
Bordeaux 2016 – ein großer Jahrgang, ein moderner Klassiker! Bordeaux 2016 ist groß, ganz groß, aber nicht vergleichbar mit irgendeinem Jahrgang der letzten 25 Jahre.
Darüber sind sich alle einig und das macht diesen Jahrgang auch so einzigartig. Das Jahr begann mit extrem hohen Regenmengen. Die 2. Jahreshälfte war von trockener Hitze geprägt, die für die nötige Reife sorgte und dann am 13. September kam der lange ersehnte Regenguss, der den letzten Kick Energie hinzufügte, um aus einem guten Jahrgang einen außergewöhnlichen zu machen!
Am linke Ufer ist das Jahr besonders gut gelungen. Im nördlichen Medoc, in Paulliac und St. Estephe, und vor allem auch im St. Julien sind die Weine ungemein harmonisch, balanciert und von extrem feiner, seidiger Textur.
Der Cabernet Sauvignon reifte in idealen, kleinen Beeren. Zudem ist der Alkoholgehalt der Weine auf niedrigerem Niveau. Eleganz, Seidigkeit und sehr viel Frische!
Insgesamt ein Jahrgang, der sich früh antrinken lässt, aber wegen der perfekten Balance und den hochwertigen Tanninen ein langlebiger Langstreckenläufer mit ausgedehnter Genussphase sein wird.
Am rechten Ufer findet man das einzige, was man am linken Ufer vielleicht in 2016 vermissen könnte: Opulenz.
Dort wo der Merlot perfekt ausreifen konnte, in den besten Lagen des St. Émilions und ganz besonders am Plateau von Pomerol finden sich herausragende Weine.
Leider führte hier aber stellenweiser Hagel zu einem Ernteausfall. Von manchen Weinen speziell im Pomerol gibt es daher nur kleine Mengen. Generell überwiegt in Saint Émilion und Pomerol ein kraftvoller Stil, aber wieder geprägt von seidiger Textur und ausgeprägt frischem Charakter. Langlebige Weine mit vielen, sehr hochwertigen Tanninen. 2016 präsentiert sich hier als hedonistischer Jahrgang, der schon früh hemmungslosen Trinkgenuss liefern wird, aber durch die Ausgeglichenheit auch hohe Langlebigkeit garantiert.
Die trockenen Weißweine sind vor allem was den Semillion betrifft nicht so optimal ausgereift, wie die roten. Sauvignon Blanc dominierte Weine sind allerdings oft sehr gut gelungen und spiegeln ein schönes Bild an Frische, Eleganz und mit sehr feinen, fast subtilen Aromen.
Im Bereich der Süßweine aus Sauternes ist 2016 ein gutes Jahr, das früh antrinkbare Weine erzeugte.
Zusammenfassend handelt es sich um einen Jahrgang, der definitiv in die Geschichte eingehen wird, als untypisch und großartig – ein moderner Klassiker, der ein wenig an die alten Jahrgänge aus dem vergangenen Jahrtausend erinnert.
Die Besten vom linken Ufer: Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Palmer, Haut-Brion, La Mission-Haut-Brion, Margaux, Pontet-Canet, Pape-Clement, Haut-Bailly, Leoville-Lascases, Leoville-Poyferre, Calon-Segur, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Pichon Baron, Cos D´Estournel, Lynch-Bages und Domaine de Chevalier
Geheimtipps vom linken Ufer: Talbot, Belgrave, Sociando-Malet, Brane-Cantenac, Malescot-Saint Exupery, Giscours, Meyney, Rauzan-Segla, Phelan Segur
Die Besten von rechten Ufer: Petrus, Cheval-Blanc, Ausone, L´Eglise-Clinet, Le Pin, La Fleur-Petrus, Belair-Monange, Trotanoy, Hosanna, Lafleur, Figeac, Vieux Chateau Certan, Le Dome, Tertre Rotebeouf, Valandraud, Latour a Pomerol, La Violette, Dubreuil, Canon
Geheimtipps vom rechten Ufer: Laforge, Bourgneuf, Roc de Cambes, La Serre, Plince, Lagrange (Pomerol), Clinet
Die besten trockenen Weißweine: le Pavillon Margaux blanc, Domaine de Chevalier blanc, Fieuzal blanc, Haut-Brion blanc, Smith-Haut Lafitte blanc,
Die Besten aus Sauternes und Barsac: Doisy-Daene, Giraud, Suiduiraut, Rieussec
von James Suckling
The wine world can debate whether the 2016 vintage is better than 2015, but the bottom line is that both years are excellent. That’s at least what I found after spending three weeks in Bordeaux with my team tasting 1,200 wines, the largest barrel tasting of my 34-year career as a wine critic.
Indeed Bordeaux’s newest vintage shows wonderful promise, producing dynamic, bright and structured wines, especially on the Left Bank, while the 2015 remains a classic year with slightly more exotic fruit, velvety tannins and ripeness, specifically on the Right Bank.
What we know for sure is that 2016 is one of the best vintages since 2010. I would rate it ahead of 2000 and 2003, as well as every vintage in the 1990s except 1990 itself. The only vintages better are 2005, 2009, 2010 and perhaps 2015.
As I wrote a few days ago, 2016 is a Left Bank year.
Vineyards in the Médoc and Graves – particularly in the north such as St. Estephe and Pauillac – capitalized on swings in the weather from drought conditions in the summer to light rain in mid-September. Wineries using predominantly cabernet sauvignon made the best wines, as they harvested later than more precocious and merlot-based areas.
Nonetheless, some of my highest rated came from the best parts of Right Bank’s Pomerol and St. Emilion. Angelus, La Conseillante, Lafleur, Le Pin, Pavie, and Petrus all have the potential to be perfect with scores of 99-100 points. Other sensational Right Bank reds include Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarosse, Cheval Blanc, L’Église Clinet, L’Evangile, La Fleur-Pétrus, Pavie Decesse, Rocheyron, and Vieux-Château-Certan. All received ratings of 98-99.
Some of my favorite lesser-appellations include Fronsac, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, and Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux. These regions make interesting wines at reasonable price in almost every vintage. And in 2016, many made outstanding wines. This holds true in Haut-Médoc in as well. Our complete guide to Bordeaux En Primeur 2016 includes scores and rankings.
Dry white wines were very good quality but I think that 2015 is better because of less problems with drought. Sauternes are excellent with plenty of botrytis character but in a refined and structured way.
Most of the outstanding 2016s were also slightly lower in alcohol that past vintages, particularly compared to 2010 and 2009. Some wines were more than 1 percent less in alcohol. Lower alcohol means more freshness and brightness—a neoclassic style that harkens back to the 1980s when wines were less concentrated and extracted compared to those in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
From a volume standpoint, 2016 made significantly more wine than 2015. I expect to see dozens of outstanding wines available at the $15 to $30 a bottle range as en primeur, or futures, as well as in bottle later. I also hope that top estates are reasonable with their pricing. I’ve heard that some are considering a 15 percent to 20 percent increase.
A price hike would be a bad idea, in my opinion, since Bordeaux remains one of the best value wine producing areas in the world, a reality easily forgotten since we spend so much time talking about the top wines that can cost over $500 a bottle (and even more). These trophy wines represent a tiny percentage of the total production of France’s premier wine region. There’s more to Bordeaux than just first growths, though Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion were the only wines to receive perfect scores.
I tried to highlight these relative bargains in my Top 100 list of the vintage. At the top of this pyramid is the 2016 Calon-Segur, my Wine of the Vintage.
The 2016 is one of the estate’s greatest wines ever, harkening back to the legendary 1947 and 1928. It is a wine that highlights the intensity and power of the vintage with chewy and polished tannins and wonderful character and energy. It shows how cabernet sauvignon ripened to extraordinary quality in 2017. How much does it cost? Well, the 2015 en primeur sells for about $70 a bottle right now. Compared to trophy wines like the first growths, it’s an utter bargain and a sure way to show the world that Bordeaux is a wine to buy.
von Antonio Galloni
The 2016s are absolutely remarkable wines. The word that comes to mind, unfortunately so often overused, is balance.
In technical terms, the 2016s boast off the charts tannins that in many cases exceed those of wines from massive vintages such as 2010. And yet, the best 2016s are absolutely harmonious, with the tannins barely perceptible at all. The 2016s also have tremendous energy and bright, acid-driven profiles, with many wines playing more in the red-fruit area of the flavor spectrum. One of the results of the unusual growing season is that alcohols range from 0.5% to 1% lower than what has been the norm in recent years.
From a stylistic standpoint, the recent vintage that comes to mind is 2014, also a late-ripening year, but the 2016s have more mid palate depth and greater density.
Not all Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines are overachievers, while many Right Bank wines are.[...] Two thousand sixteen is a vintage that will be thought provoking on many levels for years, and probably decades, to come.
If there is one commune on the Left Bank where quality is exceptional across the board, it is without question Saint-Julien. Most vintages have a sweet spot or two. In 2014, it was the northern Médoc, Saint-Estèphe in particular, that benefitted most from the Indian summer. Last year, quality in Margaux was superb, as it was in a number of pockets on the Right Bank. Saint-Julien is the unquestioned star of 2016.
An uncharacteristically refined Léoville-las-Cases and a gorgeous Ducru Beaucaillou lead the pack, but readers will also find a sublime Branaire-Ducru an unusually exotic Beychevelle, a fabulous Léoville-Poyferré, a regal Léoville-Barton, along with a number of other stunningly beautiful, compelling wines. Even better, many of the second wines from Saint-Julien are absolutely delicious and will give readers a good look at the quality of the year before the big guns are ready to deliver maximum pleasure.
Neighboring Pauillac is bigger than Saint-Julien, so quality is naturally more variable, but the best Pauillacs are magnificent. Pichon-Lalande is a must-have, Mouton-Rothschild is tremendous, while Lafite-Rothschild, Latour and Pontet-Canet are all sublime. The 2016 Pauillacs are marked by extraordinary purity of fruit, even among the lesser châteaux. Of course, it is very early, and some of the rusticity that is found in the more modest properties may well emerge over time, but today, the Pauillacs are quite impressive.
In Saint-Estèphe, the wines are very good, but quality is mixed. Calon-Ségur and Phélan Ségur are both overachievers, but most other wines, while excellent to outstanding, don’t necessarily punch above their weight. Montrose is still very raw to the point of being monolithic, while Cos d’Estournel is unusually delicate and medium in body. A number of less touted properties did well in 2016, which is a positive, and also great news for consumers looking for value, but overall, the Saint-Estèphes aren’t as consistently brilliant as the wines of other appellations.
In the southern Médoc, readers will find plenty of terrific wines from the better properties in Margaux, although 2016 is not the across-the-board success that 2015 was. Macau, which is just south, is a fertile hunting ground for value-priced reds that deliver high quality.
Technical Director Nicolas Glumineau and his team made one of the wines of the vintage at Pichon-Lalande
I tasted a large number of absolutely stunning wines on the Right Bank. The brutally dry summer was especially penalizing to younger vineyards. Moisture retentive soils and vineyards with deep root systems where the vines could access water during the summer did best. In some places, hydric stress was highly problematic. I tasted some wines with a distinctly roasted, overripe character, especially in Merlot, while the intense heat also afflicted some of the Cabernet Franc. But where conditions were less extreme and where producers were able to cull out lower quality fruit, the wines are simply dazzling. The 2016 Right Bank reds are remarkably polished and sensual. Even wines like Trotanoy that are often broad and powerful show a level of finesse that is quite rare at this early stage. In Pomerol, Vieux Château Certan, Le Pin, Pétrus, Lafleur and L’Eglise Clinet are all knockouts. Cheval Blanc, La Conseillante, L’Evangile, Figeac, Pavie, Pavie-Macquin, Larcis Ducasse and Beauséjour Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse are among the most exceptional wines of Saint-Émilion.
The theme of brightness, elegance and finesse carries over the communes of Pessac and Léognan, where the wines are often powerful, virile, and in some cases, also quite rustic. Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier and Haut Bailly are both absolutely brilliant, both in quality and personality, while La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion express all the pedigree of their respective sites. Partially because of its high percentage of Cabernet Franc and fermentation with whole clusters, Les Carmes Haut-Brion remains the most distinctive wine of the sector.
As compelling as 2016 is for reds, it is a far less interesting vintage for dry whites. The summer conditions were not favorable for the production of high quality whites on a par with the best vintages. Sémillon was especially challenged. For that reason, and in order to give the wines as much freshness as was available, producers made a decision to favor Sauvignon Blanc over Sémillon in the blends. Overall, the 2016 whites are blowsy and lacking in both focus and energy. With a few exceptions, the 2016s come across as wines that are best enjoyed on the young side.
The sweet whites of Sauternes and Barsac fared better than Bordeaux’s dry whites. Late season rains created good conditions for the onset of noble rot. In general, the 2016s sweet wines are open-knit and gracious, qualities that will make them easy to enjoy relatively early. I don’t see the precision or energy of truly great years such as 2013, but 2016 is certainly a pleasant, above average vintage with a number of overachievers.
As always, most of the attention this time of year focuses on Bordeaux’s top estates and most famous wines. But Bordeaux is so much more than just 20-30 elite properties. Readers will find a bevy of affordable wines in this article and my accompanying piece 2016 Bordeaux: 30 Top Values. The Haut-Médoc and various satellite appellations on the Right Bank, most notably Fronsac, are all worth discovering. These regions excel with delicious, flavorful wines of real pedigree that the average consumer can still afford to buy. Wines listed in Sleepers & Under the Radar Gems, while not all inexpensive, do offer serious quality and tons of relative value.
The big question now for the 2016s is price. Every spring, the same debates ensue around the market for Bordeaux wines. Some people believe the en primeur system is broken, obsolete, or both. I am more inclined to think issues with wines selling through are more related to pricing than just structural factors. As of this writing the few estates that have released pricing have done so at 2015 levels, which is a highly encouraging sign.
This year there are a number of factors at play. One of these is volume. In 2016, total production is estimated at around 6 million hectoliters, which is equivalent to 800 million bottles of wine. Some of that is, of course, very inexpensive, low quality wine. Even so, the numbers are staggering when compared with other regions like Champagne (itself considered a very large region) with its annual production of 330 million bottles, or Burgundy, which produces around 200 million bottles (both red and white) in good year.
The UK, one of Bordeaux’s oldest and strongest markets, has seen the GBP lose approximately 15% relative to the EUR over the last year. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that even if prices remain unchanged, the UK consumer is looking at 15% increase over the 2015s, which is not an easy proposition. And of course, any meaningful increase over the 2015s could be utterly crushing to the UK consumer’s interest in the 2016s. From what I have been told by those in the know, interest in futures does not appear to be especially strong across Asian markets. As if that were not enough, the macro geopolitical and economic outlook in many parts of the world is best described as highly uncertain.
In this climate, most businesses would take the sure cash, even if it means sacrificing some upside. Who knows what the world will look like when the 2015s and 2016s are sold in bottle, or what the 2017 harvest will bring? No one. Châteaux that raise their prices by more than 5-10% in this kind of environment are telling the world they don’t really need the money from the futures campaign and have the financial wherewithal to handle sitting on unsold wine. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but that is the message.
No one needs a $50 or $100 wine, much less a bottle that costs many times that. But we as consumers are often willing to spend sums of money most normal people consider insane for a bottle of wine. Why? Because of the intangibles that make the world’s best wines the objects of desire. When it comes to Bordeaux, what I hear most often from consumers is this: “Buying futures is not fun anymore.
Even if investment is not the main objective, consumers who put down cash today for a wine that will be delivered in two years time and then may need a decade or more to be at its best want to see some return on that money. When owners raise prices to the level that virtually all of the economic rents accrue to them, they leave very little potential upside for members of the trade at various levels. For the consumer, wine is a passion, a hobby. And some element of buying wine has to remain fun.
Two thousand sixteen presents a great opportunity for owners to gain back a considerable amount of consumer confidence that has been lost in past years largely through the excessive pricing of some previous vintages. High production and an uncertain economic climate create easy, face-saving reasons to keep price increases modest without tarnishing the prestige that many estates have built up over time. If the 2016s do not sell well, it will be a damning indictment that one or more things is seriously wrong with how the wines are sold. That’s why 2016 is Now or Never for Bordeaux.
Bordeaux en primeur is a strange animal. Keeping in mind that most of the fruit was harvested between the end of September and the middle of October, the 2016s were less that six months old before they were presented as barrel samples to critics, journalists and the trade. Tasting wines that are six months old and trying to project what those wines will be like as bottled, finished products, much less what they will develop into with time in bottle, is clearly more art than science. For comparison, consider that in Burgundy, wines generally do not finish their malos before the summer and are only presented to outside tasters a full year or more after the harvest. In Napa Valley, I know of no single high quality wine that is blended before the summer after the harvest, and even those are preliminary blends that are rarely tasted by anyone outside the estates.
Châteaux have different ways of approaching en primeur tastings. Some properties present a finished blend that is representative of the entire production while others make no effort to hide that the en primeur samples are taken from barrels that are raised specifically with the goal of being ready for the spring tastings. Atmospheric pressure often plays a significant role in how wines show. Too much sulfur and a sample may not show well, too little and a wine can taste oxidized. I have also noticed that samples prepared in 750ml bottles often show better than those presented in 375ml bottles. For these reasons, I tasted many wines in this article more than once, some many more than once, and visited a number of properties two times.
Readers should view these tasting notes and the accompanying ratings as estimates as to a wine’s quality level and potential. Because the wines are not finished, scores are presented in brackets rather than as a single number. Scores are best interpreted for their directional value rather than as absolutes.
von Elin McCoy
As spring sun blazed in blue skies over Bordeaux on Friday, March 31, I set out to taste nearly 500 barrel samples of red and white wines in the legendary French region. My mission was to discern how the 2016 vintage stacks up against the superb 2015s I tried last year.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: The best wines from this vintage are exceptional, with plenty of superstars as impressive as, or much better than, their 2015 versions. Many chateau owners feel the wines are the best they’ve ever made. (Of course, I’ve heard that before.) The style of 2016 is different and enticing: The wines brim with fresh, floral aromas and cool red fruit flavors, silky textures, complexity, and smooth, tightly packed tannins.
Interest in the vintage was high–6,500 merchants descended on the city, compared with 4,500 last year. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild welcomed 2,000, Pichon-Baron 1,200. The Chinese were out in force. I myself traveled more than 500 miles, north to the Medoc, east to Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, and south to the Graves and Sauternes.
Here’s what I learned: 2016 is more variable than I expected, but I found terrific wines at every price level and in every appellation.
The first growths all shine brightly. One thing that struck me was how good the second wines from top properties are, as well as those from smaller estates, a sure indicator of the vintage’s high quality. At Chateau Pichon-Lalande, second wine Reserve de la Comtesse was stunning, while Chateau Leoville-Las Cases’s small estate Potensac made its best wine ever. On the other hand, with a few exceptions, the dry and sweet whites aren’t as stunning as the best reds.
With nearly constant rain from January to mid-June, followed by debilitating drought from then until, finally, a surprise Sept. 13 rain saved the day, 2016 wasn’t an easy “armchair” vintage. It took careful work and planning to get the grapes across the finish line.
Olivier Berrouet of Chateau Petrus explained, “You had to pick each block of vines at the right moment, and be gentle in each decision. The road to balance was very narrow.”
The soil and the age of the vines were the keys to success, according to Edouard Moueix, whose family owns many Pomerol and Saint-Emilion estates. Vineyards with clay and limestone, which hold water, suffered no stress during the drought. Those planted on gravel and sand often did.
Interestingly, the long fall harvest season, with cool nights and warm days, resulted in wines that have less alcohol. First-growth Chateau Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion, with nearly 15 percent alcohol in recent years, are back to more normal levels like 14 percent and more attractive as a result. Many chateaus produced about 20 percent more wine than they did in 2015.
There were so many superb wines that it was difficult to pick my top 18 and 10 best values listed below. Besides those, I’d single out chateaus Angelus, Beychevelle, Belair-Monange, Calon Segur, Canon, Cheval Blanc, Haut-Bailly, La Conseillante, Leoville-Barton, Pichon-Baron, Haut-Brion, Margaux, and Vieux-Chateau-Certan.
Over the next few months, you will have the option to buy the wines while they’re still in the barrel, in the form of futures. (The prices for my top 18 in the 2015 vintage ranged from $55 to $3,000.) Whether to invest in a specific 2016 wine or not, as always, will depend on the price, something few owners want to discuss right now. But for those who want to just look forward to great wines in the future, know that these famed estates will be offering winners at the table for yet another year in a row.
Hugely rich and perfumed, it will be deservedly expensive; the “bargain” from this chateau is the best second wine I tasted, Chapelle d’Ausone.
Chateau Cos d'Estournel in Saint-Estephe.
Photographer: Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images
Owned by Mouton-Rothschild, this chateau made its best wine yet, with powerful, super polished, and vivacious flavors.
This is the best young wine I’ve tasted from Cos; it’s suave, sophisticated, savory, and spicy.
This stylish, cassis-scented Margaux has amazing delicacy and purity of fruit, given that it sells below $100.
Long and powerful with dark, intense fruit, this has layer after layer of complexity.
Almost perfect, this wine is soft, dense, structured, and complex; it’s better than the 2015, which sold out to merchants in 42 minutes.
Dense, serious, and expansive, the wine’s long, complex, subtle flavors unroll in layers.
The satiny texture and dense, plushy cassis flavors are filled with bright energy.
A colleague called this wine “monumental.” It’s brilliant and sumptuous, with super pure fruit.
Totally seductive. This expensive Pomerol from a tiny cult estate is another “wow” wine, super intense, with soft sensual fruit flavors.
Along with a gorgeous purple-y color and powerful tannins, this wine is also round, rich, and super classy.
Smooth and powerful, with cocoa-and-violets aromas and a dark, deep power.
Sophisticated and velvety, it’s also wonderfully aromatic with a very long, pure aftertaste.
I loved the sensuality of the 2015; the 2016 is more elegant and structured.
This gorgeous wine brims with succulent fruit flavors, spicy aromas, and a super polished texture.
Aromatic, polished, and smooth, it has an especially silky texture.
This scented Margaux is deep, floral, and fragrant, better than 2015.
A favorite in the Moueix portfolio, this has a core of savory elegant fruit and powerful tannins for the long haul.
Owned by Calon Segur, this Saint-Estephe wine shows a lot of plush, seductive fruit for its price.
Very fresh, savory blackberry flavors and bright floral aromas mark this always well-made wine.
Plump, smooth, and satisfying, this Saint-Julien really delivers, as does its second wine Fiefs de Lagrange.
Every wine in the Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou stable is terrific; this one has exceptionally lush fruit and structure.
This velvety Saint-Estephe red comes from a chateau owned by the family behind Taillevant restaurant.
Part of Chateau Pichon Baron’s portfolio, this wine is loaded with seductive red fruit flavors.
This is the best-ever vintage for this intense, berry-flavored red in Leoville-Las Cases’s portfolio.
Plump and sweetly fruited, this Saint-Emilion from the Moueix lineup has charm and mineral overtones.
Reserve de la Comtesse
The second wine of Pichon-Lalande is juicy and succulent, with lovely structure.
This year the wine has more elegance, intensity, and delicious juicy red fruit flavors.
There’s an overpowering taste of oak on top of harsh tannins in this red from Moulis-en-Medoc.
Thick, syrupy, and odd.
Balestard La Tonnelle
Strange aromas and odd synthetic flavor notes mark this Saint-Emilion grand cru classe.
Ick. Green flavors and bitter notes make this Saint-Emilion unappealing.
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