- The wines shared the fresh quality I’ve consistently found in ’16 reds across France and Northern Italy (Burgundy, Beaujolais the Northern and Southern Rhone, Piedmont and Tuscany): bright fruit (fully ripe but definitely not overripe), concentration, with ample tannins and acidity. I'm loving this vintage!
- These were pretty tight, not showing a lot of fruit, and the tannins and acid were conspicuous, but nonetheless they seemed balanced because they had such concentration. Their backwardness and tightness reminded me of the young Bordeauxs I tasted in the late 80s and early 90s.
- These were a hit with the group, even those members who often prefer more approachable wines, and even with one person who tends to dismiss Bordeaux. I would guess that my scores will rise when I retaste the leftovers tonight.
The wines were served double blind; we just knew they were ’16 Bordeaux, but not what the properties or appellations were, as we usually do.
All wines from Zachy’s.
Ranked in my order of preference:
Ch. Petit- Village (Pomerol), $80: Quite tight and ungiving on the nose, even with some time in the glass. Very tight in the mouth at first, but beautifully balanced. With air, this became one of the more approachable wines on the palate. (It’s 75% merlot and 18% cab franc.) Finish: Long and very concentrated, with perfect balance. Although this was the only Right Bank wine, it wasn’t an outlier. 92 points (group’s 2nd/3rd tie)
Ch. Leoville-Barton (St. Julien, 2nd growth), $94: Rich, deep, concentrated blackberry/black currant and oak on the nose – outstanding. This was one of the few where I could peg individual flavors at this stage. This had 2016 written all over it -- a lushness, but with a backbone of tannin and acid that made the wine (and me) sit up straight. Oak in abundance at this stage, carrying through to the finish. Oak really came to the fore at the back as it sat out. But everything seems in place for a wonderful, slow evolution. I found this tightened up a bit when I resampled it 3 hours after opening. 91+ points (group’s 1st place)
Ch. Branaire-Ducru (St. Julien, 4th growth), $65: Lovely sweet, crème brulee nose (oak). Tight and tannic, but with such great balance and concentration. Very classic. Tasting it after everyone had left, I’d raise the score a bit. It really came together. 90+ points (group’s 4th)
Ch. Duhart-Millon (Paulliac, 4th growth), $95: Dark chocolate and a trace of black rubber on the nose. Later some eucalyptus showed up. Hard tannins (I guessed St. Estephe.) “Classic but a little less charming,” I wrote. This is old-style Pauillac/St. Estephe type wine, for sure. Will this turn into something more pleasing? I'm not 100% confident. 90- points (group’s 5th/6th place tie)
Ch. Poujeaux (Moulis en Medoc, cru bourgeois), $40: Nice nose with oak and black fruit, and a trace of red currant, as well. Both rich and tannic, with great fruit showing – more than most. Slight green hint suggested cabernet franc, but that’s only 5%; it’s 50% cabernet sauvignon. Very pleasing and a good value (as Bordeaux goes). 89 points (group’s 7th place)
Ch. Lagrange (St. Julien, 3rd growth), $60: Shows little on the nose. “Tough but seemingly balanced,” with a long, tannic finish. Sort of opaque at the moment – difficult to assess. I gave it 87 points during the main tasting, but bumped that up to 90 on retasting at the end of the evening. (Group’s 5th/6th place tie)
Ch. Larrivet Haut Brion (Pessac Leognan), $40: An outlier from the first sniff, which yielded a sort of cherry soda nose. In the mouth, this was markedly less concentrated and tarter. Still, it’s quite pleasant now, and certainly more approachable than the rest. The cherry/candy nose put me off, though. (It’s 55% merlot.) I’d say 85+ points (group’s 2nd/3rd place tie)
Ch. St. Pierre (St. Julien), $65: Something was off here. Three other people thought it was corked. I didn’t pick up classic TCA wet cardboard, but got something like damp, rotting wood. Little fruit showing, tannic, with less concentration. The group’s and my last-place wine. A score wouldn’t be meaningful. (Group's and my 8th place, though one person ranked it second and one sixth. Go figure.)