More 2016 Bordeaux: Lafleur and Le Pin

Continuing to taste through to assess 2016 Bordeaux, I tried two of the big right bank wines recently:

2016 Lafleur is silky smooth. Sweet, luscious, but just managing to remain balanced. Loads of the distinct Lafleur cherry note. The question for me is whether it will gain enough complexity as it mature to make it a real legend. Promising, for sure, but I’m not sold from this experience that it’s guaranteed to lift off into the stratosphere. It’s only one experience at one moment in time, so I remain open to be convinced either way as the wine matures.

2016 Le Pin, on the other hand, leaves no doubt. It’s greatness is already conspicuous and undeniable. Probably the finest young Bordeaux I have ever tasted. What blows me away is how this wine enters with such beautiful, sweet, ripe fruit on the initial palate and then pivots instantly to a balanced, structured, clean mid palate and finish. I don’t understand how a wine can do both things like that. It seems like magic. It’s in two places at once. Absolutely stunning.

A couple other recent tastes as well not quite in the blockbuster category:

2016 Leoville Barton is really nice. The big solid fruit of the 2016s is a very flattering partner for the slightly dry, classic St. Julien structure that this wine possesses. The natural character of the Chateau keeps the wine on the rails, and the abundance of fruit keeps the wine from seeming stingy. This goes particularly well with food–not stealing the attention, but faithfully doing it’s job in the background. Delicious and fairly priced IMHO.

2016 L’evangile does not have the goods. To me it tastes over-extracted. I find the structure of the wine falling in on itself and ending it a monolithic finish with too much tannin. A bit disappointing.


It would be very surprising if Lafleur would not become complex (or as complex as it gets). Not that I have tried it yet, but just the house and vintages… My two cents: some of the 2016s I’ve had more recently didn’t show as complex as two+ years ago at the arrivage tastings. Already in shutdown mode. Maybe Lafleur is one of them. I should get a few more data points next week when we plan to do a small 2016s 5 years on tasting across 4 appellations (with Montrose/Cos, Mouton/Lalande, Ausone/Figac, VCC/Conseillante).

Would be curious for a Mouton note for comparison.

As for Lafleur, my experience is that it needs extended time in the bottle before showing potential. The 1998 is only just beginning to unfurl, and the 2000 is closed.

Andy, I’m inclined to agree. Lafleur is such a great Chateau, and I really believe in 2016s. I can’t imagine it won’t be great in the end. But only time will tell. I also do agree some 16s have been shut down recently. Leglise Clinet comes to mind particularly.

Please report back after your tasting. I’m very interested to hear what you think of Montrose and PLL as I haven’t tried them and if you like vcc and conseillante as much as I have recently. Those two, fwiw, I have found quite enjoyable even at this stage. Not really shut down.

Mark, I agree Lafleur takes time. But I’m curious have you tried 10 recently? Two recent tastings have both shown it quite open and approachable in my view. I’m not a particular fan of 10 overall, but I did quite enjoy Lafleur. Though as I say, it does not seem closed in the slightest to me.

Patrick slumming with that Leo Barton!

Great notes and deeply envious

I actually have a few bottles of the 2010 Lafleur, because along with Petrus it was the only Right Bank wine I liked. But that was en primeur; I have not tasted since, as it is far too expensive to experiment with. Earliest to try would be 2025.

Will report. Haven’t had it En Primeur or in the arrivage tastings.

I haven’t had Montrose yet but tasted PLL twice in arrivage tastings and it was definitely one of the stars for me at that time (hyper complex, superbly delineated, distinctively Pauillac but with such a finesse and airy texture - squaring the circle with mascuilintyXfemininty), rated it 98 and a second bottle a few months later 95 (a tad less expressive). Will report back.

I’ve had the 2009 and 2010 at privately held vintage restrospectives in 2020 and 2019 and I liked them both (tasted blind) a lot. Fully open and fully complex? Not yet but still a big treat and fairly approchable. Here my notes:

2010 - 96 pts
TN: One of the best wines of the vintage, unquestionably. Instantly recognizable thanks to absolute weightlessness and one of the purest fruit expression Bordeaux has to offer. While the nose was rather muted, thee palate showed the purest, sweet red fruit, lots of herbs and terroir expression with earthy tones and minerality. The finnest tannins out there, high but not noticeable acidity, great length and superb balance and harmony. It could have been one of the top 3 wines if it wouldn‘t be for the nose that was quite unspectacular.
Group average: 95.4
Group rank: number 9 out of 61 wines

2009 - 96 pts
TN: This is in another camp than many other right banks with fresh, very pure red fruit, mostly strawberries. So long, intense but with purity and elegance. Some minerality to complement. Probably the finest right bank in the lineup. 96 points with upside to 98-100 as age will bring more complex aromas forward. Many others right banks like VCC, Cheval Blanc or to some to some degree Petrus and Le Pin shine with seductive ripeness and complexity. Lafleur, together with Trotanoy, Hosanna, to some degree Eglise Clinet are on the other side of the spectrum with purity and freshness. I get the feeling that the first category is the one you wanna spend a night with and the latter the one you wanna spend your life with.
Average blind score 4 tasters: 96.0
Rank: 6th out of 48 wines

This made me look back through some notes with interesting results. I last tasted the 2016s at the Southwold tasting in January last year. This is a blind tasting and, whilst I normally score out of 100, for Southwold we all work with a 20-point scale. My scores were:

Lafleur 2016 - 18/20
Le Pin 2016 - 18.5/20
Mouton 2016 - 18/20

About 3 weeks later pretty much the same group re-convened to (blind) taste the 2010s at 10 years from vintage. My ratings were:

Lafleur 2010 - 20/20
Le Pin 2010 - 18/20
Mouton 2010 - 20/20

If you ask me, I’m much more enthusiastic about, and confident in, 2016 as a vintage and those are the wines I’d prefer to own. Maybe I was feeling mean in January and a bit more generous in Feb?! Also, it’s just the way the dice falls with blind tastings and it’s also worth noting that we do tend to score low in this group - although, personally, I enjoy sticking my head above the parapet with a big score for wines that really stand out to me.

No doubt that they’re all three of them great wines in both vintages.

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As promised, here some inputs from our small 2016 5 years on tasting. Overall it confirmed my impression that this is a stunning vintage with no wine showing excessive ripeness, weight or alcohol. Everything is quite perfectly measured and the wines are incredibly complex and even this young highly elegant. The lineup was focused on 4 appellations with two wines from each appellation. There were 7 of us who scores the wines single blind.

The average blind scores

Ausone 96.9
Pichon Lalande 96.4
Montrose 95.9
Cos d’Estournel 95.0
Mouton 94.9
Conseillante 94.7
Figeac 94.3
Vieux Chateau Certan 93.7

Some comments:

Left bank: All wines showed rather closed and muted right after opening. The Lalande was only quickly double decanted, while the Mouton, Cos and Montrose were decanted for 2-3 hours. All wines showed very well in the evening with the 2016 freshness, complexity and purity. Big surprise, and my #1 (on the left and of the whole tasting) was the Montrose which showed incredibly well: hyper complex, superp precision, round and harmonious. I would never have guessed this to be a Montrose usually is quite stubborn. Same is true for the Cos, which showed surprisingly feminine. Group left bank winner was the Lalande which most people guessed to be the Mouton. In my opinion the wine is shutting down or already has as it showed much better, more open and complex in the arrivage tastings two years ago. Same is true for the Mouton, which never really fully revealed itself - not right after opening and not in the hours later. But you could sense all the depth, and the structure is impeccable. Still, it got some high scores but the “pro taster” scored it all below 95 points.

Right bank: All but Ausone were open and quite enjoyable right after opening the bottles. All wines were quickly double decanted and consumed roughly 4-5 hours later. The Vieux Chateau Certan showed a bit wild and slightly unbalanced and never really came together - hence the lowest score. I think its a quite promising vintage for VCC, especially compared to the 2015 which in two blind tasting before has been identified as a Napa Cab (!) by the group. The Figeac showed so elegant, fresh and layered but only with additional swirling and time in the glass. Those who didn’t gave it the time needed, scored it lower. For me it was clearly better than the Conseillante which in my book, was the most full-bodied, heavy and least elegant wine of the evening. It will need time to shed its babyfat. Best right bank and WOTN was the Ausone, which showed closed and muted right after opening the bottle, more like a black hole of a masculine left bank. Quick double decant and 5 hours later, it showed 180 degrees transformed: open, highly elegant, pure, fresh red fruits, super complex and precise, very light with no weight and no excess whatsoever.

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It seems that there was a clear divide between some wines that had clearly closed down, some that were all in bits (sounds like the VCC) and some that remained open That does makes it difficult, not just the actual tasting itself, but how much air to give the wines etc. With wines of this age, I have found using really large glassware such as Riedel Sommeliers help.

thank you for doing this: a really interesting snap shot.