This is a vintage that did not favor the left or right bank since numerous châteaux on both banks made fantastic wine. The northern Medoc had one of their best vintages in the past decade with wines that are a throwback to the 1980s in their lighter body, lower alcohol and freshness. On the right bank, Merlot on clay soils was brilliant and fared well in the drought conditions over the summer months. Below is a list of my top ten from the right and left banks.
Top Left Bank 2016 Bordeaux
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.
2. Château Mouton Rothschild 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Château Brane-Cantenac 2016
I love the precision, detail and freshness in this vintage of Brane Cantenac. The tannins are silky, refined and present from the beginning to the finish, but one can barely feel it. A great vintage for Brane Cantenac with its terroir coming through in the wine’s complexity, length and intensity of flavors. Bravo!
6. Château Haut-Bailly 2016
This is an incredibly refined, elegant Haut-Bailly that has an enormous amount of detail, refinement and focus. There is gorgeous purity of flavors, wonderful depth and layers of dark berry fruit, fresh herbs and violets. Voluptuous without heaviness, a lightness on the palate despite the density and body. The wine is less than 14% alcohol, refined, elegant and classic Haut-Bailly. The blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cab Franc.
7. Château Léoville Las Cases 2016
Plush, opulent, powerful Las Cases with enormous concentration combined with a supple, velvety texture. Palate offers layers of ripe blackberry fruit, cedar, tobacco and black tea leaves. It is an amazing powerhouse of a wine, made in the classical style to be consumed in 20-30 years, not in the near term. They did less pumping over in this vintage, but the tannins are still tremendous. This vintage is the highest IPT (tannin) levels that Las Cases has ever had. It shows in the wine’s density, thick texture and power. A wine for very long aging. 13.6% alcohol.
8. Château Montrose 2016
A lovely Montrose with wonderful freshness, great intensity of ripe red plums and blackberries with a sweet, firm palate. This is a beautifully composed Montrose that is built for the long term – layers of dense tannins and a fresh, lively palate filled with ripe fruit. This is a ‘caged lion’ according to winemaker Vincent, that is not yet fully expressing itself but the potential is there for very long aging – easily 20-30 years.
9. Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2016
This is an elegant, classy, restrained Pichon Comtesse Lalande with quiet depth. There is wonderful harmony of flavors that are surrounded by supple, powdery, fine-grained tannins and lovely mixed berry fruit. As usual, the floral aspect comes through on the palate with a long, lingering finish. There is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 4% Cab Franc.
10. 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.
Top Right Bank 2016 Bordeaux
1. Pétrus 2016
The nose is intoxicating on the Pétrus this year – open, sweet, filled with ripe plums and spices. This is one of the best vintages of Pétrus with balance, finesse, firm tannins and lovely flavors. There is delicacy as well as power and intensity. Very long finish. There is a mix of dark and red fruits as well as good freshness. Harvest was 28th September to 11th of October. This vintage was good for clay soils which is what Pétrus has; very useful during the drought months. Berries were in perfect shape during harvest and there was no green harvest done in 2017. 65% of the vineyard is over 50 years old.
2. Château Lafleur 2016
An explosive aroma of violets, red plums and blackberries with hints of savory herbs and subtle spices. The palate is velvety, focused, pure with lifted flavors that go on and on. The flavors dance on the palate with dense, ripe tannins and freshness in the background. 45% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Franc.
3. Château Ausone 2016
There is incredible detail and refinement in this full bodied, intense Ausone. This vintage was generous in many ways and there is plenty of tannins, flavor concentration and freshness in this wine. It will take at least a decade or two for the wine to open up and show its full potential. At the moment, there is depth, quality and tension to ensure the wine should have a long, long life ahead.
4. Château Cheval Blanc 2016
An intensely aromatic Cheval Blanc with violets, blackcurrants and fresh herbs. There is wonderful freshness in this elegant red with layers of flavors that are persistent and lingering despite its lightness. The terroir of this wine comes through in its elegance, detail and subtle nuances of flavors. A gorgeous wine that is effortlessly classy.
5. Château Pavie 2016
There is lovely detail and refinement in this Pavie, very different from the extracted big bodied styles of ten years ago. In 2016, Pavie is elegant, less extracted and dense with less Merlot in the blend – the goal is to reduce the Merlot to 50% and the rest made up of the two cabernets. Lovely, lifted floral and red berry flavors with detail, focus and precision. I love the direction that Pavie is heading.
6. Château Tertre-Roteboeuf 2016
An amazing vintage for Tertre Roteboeuf! The wine is layered, powerful and incredibly concentrated. There is richness and velvety tannins with full body, but the flavors are gentle, fresh and detailed. Great depth, generosity and wonderfully ripe flavors are at the core of this intense wine for long term aging.
7. Clos Fourtet 2016
A fabulous vintage for Clos Fourtet with wonderful exuberance, depth and layers of flavors. The composition of the wine is impressive, with subtlety, delicate layers and detail along with ripe, suave tannins and freshness. A fabulous vintage for Clos Fourtet!
8. Le Pin 2016
The flavors in this vintage are incredibly intense, layered and complex without any weight or heaviness. The nose has graphite, violets and juicy blackberry fruit. Incredible focus, precision and depth in this delicious, concentrated Le Pin. The final alcohol was 14.5% and as usual, 100% new oak was used for maturation. Intense, concentrated yet delicate with an incredibly long finish. 6,000 bottles produced in 2016.
9. Vieux Château Certan 2016
A seductive aroma of spices and violets with a palate that is opulent, complex and deep. Love the suave, dense tannins and the intensity along with purity of flavors. This is an extremely successful year for VCC – wonderful freshness and lifted aromatic profile with very long finish. Finesse meets intensity in 2016. The alcohol is 14.5% alcohol which is the modern norm. 85% Merlot wth the rest Cabernet Franc (1% Cab Sauvignon).
10. Château Angélus 2016
Very precise, detailed Angélus with lovely freshness, suave, generous tannins and great purity. The new younger generation team at Angélus is focused on detail and precision which they have succeeded in doing in this vintage. Fresh juicy berries, vibrant blackberries with sweet spices and herbs. Complex and long. There is intensity here and at the same time a lightness; an ethereal beauty. 14% alcohol and 100% new oak.
For a complete review of 2016 Bordeaux wines, search our database here.