The First Growths — 2016 Bordeaux En Primeur

20 April 2017
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee

Lafite 2

2016 Vintage, Château Lafite Rothschild 


There is no doubt in my mind that 2016 is going to be considered as one of the greatest vintages in Bordeaux. The five First Growths were all unique in their own voice and personality and at the same time, uniformly high in quality. There might be a slight advantage for the three First Growths in the northern Medoc – Lafite, Mouton and Latour – where the Cabernet Sauvignon expressed wonderful concentration and detail in this roller coaster vintage. Margaux and Haut-Brion are excellent but I felt 2015 is just a touch better for both these properties than 2016.


Please watch the video on my commentary on the first growth in 2016:


A wonderful characteristic about the 2016s is how beautifully the terroir and the personality of each property reveal itself in the wine: It is a transparent vintage with wonderful purity and freshness. The properties with older vines, clay soils for Merlot and deep-rooted Cabernet Sauvignon vines thrived in 2016, amassing concentration with finesse and intensity without weight or high alcohol.


Below are my tasting notes and rating of all five of the First Growths in the 2016 vintage:


1. Château Lafite Rothschild 2016

In this vintage, Lafite has wonderful intensity and subtle layers of flavors that linger on and on in the finish. There is density and concentration here; clearly it is a powerful wine yet the delivery is subtle, gentle with sweet ripe tannins and ripe dark berries. Seductive and fresh, the acidity lifts the wine and makes it seem even lighter than the 13.3% alcohol. A wine to savor for several decades. To view photos and videos of the château, click here.

98 points


2. Château Mouton 2016

Gorgeous, subtle, layered Mouton with delicate and detailed flavors that linger on the palate for a long time. The density of the tannins combine with wonderful freshness and layers of flavors that range from dark berries, savory spices to cedar and earth. A glorious Mouton that has stature and concentration without any heaviness. The blend is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The latter two varieties were co-fermented. To view photos and videos of the château, click here.

98 points


3. Château Latour 2016

This is a focused, class Latour with Intense structure, firm tannins, balanced alcohol and layered flavors. A wonderfully structured Latour that uses a blend of 5 different coopers to add nuance. This is the first vintage where all 93 hectares were farmed biodynamically. Lovely aromatics of violets, roses and dried jasmine flowers. 93% Cabernet and the rest Merlot. There is a distinct saltiness to the finish. To view photos and videos of the château, click here.

98 points


4. Château Haut Brion 2016

A serious, tightly knit Haut-Brion with structured backbone and reserved flavors. There is less flamboyance and generosity compared with 2015 but the structure is classic – dense, fine-grained tannins with cigar, tobacco and earthy flavors accented by savory herbs and spices. Long finish. A wine to be enjoyed in 10-20 years time. To view photos and videos of the château, click here.

98 points


5. Château Margaux 2016

This is a fresh, pure, lovely Margaux with firm, velvety tannins. A gorgeous array of floral, fresh red berry flavors layered with firm, silky tannins. There is a lightness in this medium bodied Margaux with only 13% alcohol – a pure, precise, linear vintage. The wine is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon – 94% in the blend. The grand vin this year makes up only 28% of the total crop. To view photos and videos of the château, click here.

98 points



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