At today’s Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés tasting, guests were sampling the latest vintage – Bordeaux 2016 – alongside the previous two vintages. As such this tasting gives a rare opportunity for the trade to compare the new vintage with ones that are already showing great signs of evolution. Peter Dean picks his favourites.
Bordeaux 2016 is really living up the hype, 2015 is clearly turning into a stunning vintage, while 2014 had some tough opposition to stand up and get noticed. Four quick takeaways from the Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés tasting.
The Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés tastings have a unique angle – and that’s to compare the latest vintage (in this case Bordeaux 2016) with the previous two.
As such, journalists rub shoulders with sommeliers who rub shoulders with importers who, fresh from their en primeur tastings, get a chance to taste the young wines alongside 2015 and 2014.
The chateaux showing wines at the Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés tastings this year were Branaire-Ducru, Canon, Canon La Geffelière, Gazin, Guiraud, Léoville-Poyferré, Montrose, Pontet-Canet, Rauzan-Ségla and Smith Haut Lafitte.
Here are 4 quick takeouts from the tastings
1 Bordeaux 2016 – everything you’ve heard is true
True to the campaign and vintage reports Bordeaux 2016 is clearly an exceedingly good vintage. The wines have freshness, structure and great balance and both banks were showing equally well.
The wines are super young right now and have lots of iodine, blackberry, cassis and impertinent young tannins as you’d expect. But, as with most young wines, if they are showing this well now then they will continue to develop well.
All the wines were bright and fresh, but the Pontet-Canet you could serve right now it was that good, the Smith Haut Lafitte with a greater percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in (in about the same ratio as the 2015) was also standout.
2 Bordeaux 2016 – a great vintage to buy from lesser houses
There wasn’t a duff 2016 in the house at Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés. This will be a great vintage to buy from lesser houses and second wines.
With this in mind the La Mondotte from Saint-Émilion and d’Aiguilhe from Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux were tasting superb with great texture in both.
3 Bordeaux 2015 – developing into a stunning wine
Although the 2015s are not in bottle yet, this is a vintage to keep your eye on. The difference in just one year’s evolution between 15 and 16 was incredible.
For me, best of the whites on show was the 2015 Smith Haut Lafitte which has got such delicious fruit and acidity. The 2014 has got wonderful depth too.
The 2015 reds were more or less all tasting well – delicious and inviting aromas and wonderful depth to the fruit.
My favourites were the Rauzan-Ségla, Branaire-Ducru, Montrose, Pontet-Canet and Smith Haut Lafitte. The La Mondotte 2015, which gets released next month in bottle is a smart buy.
4 Bordeaux 2014 – amazing nose but faring poorly in comparison
The problem with 2014 is that I think it got over-praised on released because it followed a number of indifferent to poor vintages, particularly 2013.
The 2014s presented at the Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés were all showing lovely evolution on the nose but most felt thin, green and a little tight on the palate and in some cases with a hint of dryness. Tasting 2014 after the 2016 and 2015 was also perhaps a little unfair given that the latter two vintages are yards ahead in terms of overall quality.
Having said that these are still well made wines.
Interestingly, on a recent visit to Bordeaux a number of 2007s I tried were tasting remarkable and that from a vintage that most would consider poor.
The 2014s that stood out for me were the Gazin, the Rauzan-Ségla and the best the Pontet-Canet. Of the cheaper wines I liked the Ségla 2014 and the Mondotte, a wine that always punches above its weight.