Bordeaux 2015 En Primeur

28 June 2016 - Best in Show

2015 is a ravishing vintage that will delight wine enthusiasts with its sumptuous, crystal clear fruit, silky tannins and refreshing acidity. At their best, the wines resemble a blend of the 2005s and 2010s with maybe a hint of the lavish 2009s. We had many personal favourites. Now with a retrospective gaze over all the releases, we have a clearer understanding of where the best value lies. We have whittled the pack down to five wines that we think offer an outstanding quality to price ratio.

Our first contestant is the resurgent Château Cantemerle, situated just south the Margaux commune - right in the 2015 sweet spot. This was the class act at the Medoc, Listrac and Moulis UGC. We were thrilled with its intensity and energy – it packs a mighty punch. James Suckling awards it an emphatic 95-96 points and asks whether this is perhaps the ‘best ever’ from this estate. It will surely rival the glorious 1983 and 1989. At £210 per dozen it is one to fill your boots with!

Moving slightly north, we have a brace of Margaux. It is no secret that this is one of the highest achieving appellations in 2015. Competition was fierce, however, our favourites had to be Malescot St Exupery and Brane Cantenac. Both are utterly profound and will rank amongst the best wines ever produced from these 2nd and 3rd growth Chateaux. At £370/12 and £460/12 respectively, these are serious, long-term wines, full of breed and class. Neal Martin is full of praise too, awarding each 93-95 points.

We complete our quintet with two perennial favourites: Grand Puy Lacoste and Domaine de Chevalier. It is hard to exaggerate the achievements of Xavier Borie and Olivier Bernard. Each year their wines are amongst the elite from their respective appellations, yet their prices remain resolutely fair. Neal Martin sums up Domaine de Chevalier rather neatly. ‘What a fabulous, intellectual wine from Olivier Bernard’. With a 95-97 point score from the Wine Advocate, it’s really no surprise this glittering wine made it into our list. The Grand Puy Lacoste is every bit as classy. Neal describes it ‘as being between 2009 and 2010’; high praise indeed, but thoroughly warranted. This is a masterpiece, a noble Pauillac with a heady floral bouquet and a wonderfully precise fruit core. Both these wines have very long and distinguished futures ahead of them.

In addition to our fabulous five, we are down to the last few cases of the following wines: Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge (£625/12, 95-97 WA), Clos Fourtet (£710/12, 95-97 WA), Haut Brion (£4260/12, 98-100 WA) and Pichon Lalande (£995/12, 95-97 WA). For full 2015 availability, please follow the link below.

 

23 June 2016 - Petrus 2015

We are truly honoured to be a distributor for Petrus in the UK market. Olivier Berrouet has produced yet another sublime wine from this outstanding terroir. The 2015 is a quietly authoritative wine that flows gracefully, almost effortlessly from start to finish. It has such presence and is so mesmerizingly handsome; it really is quite matchless.

Given the quality and reputation of Petrus, and the subsequent demand; this will have to be allocated. Please contact your Account Manager if you would like to register your interest.

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

22 June 2016 - La Conseillante – it’s a ‘knockout’!

La Conseillante’s new wine-maker, Marielle Cazaux is clearly thrilled with her 2015. All the major critics share this enthusiasm: 95-97 from Neal Martin, 96-97 from James Suckling and 95-97 from Antonio Galloni. High praise indeed and a fine start to her tenure at this excellent Pomerol estate.

‘The 2015 La Conseillante, a blend of 81% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, is extraordinarily pure and elegant on the nose. Here, I find a little more red fruit than black fruit, extremely elegant and articulating the terroir with great clarity. At first, wild strawberry and cranberry, then crushed stone, a touch of black truffle and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with fine tannin on the entry. This is one of the most approachable La Conseillante wines that I have tasted in barrel, the acidity very well judged, "classic" in style, good backbone here with a structured finish. It does not quite possess the bravura of the 2010 La Conseillante and I would agree with winemaker Marielle Cazaux that it bears more semblances to the 2005 La Conseillante at this stage, and even bore common traits with its neighbour, Vieux Château Certan. This is an intellectual and to put it prosaically, "delicious" La Conseillante. Drink 2021-2045. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘This is the most powerful La Conseillante I have tasted with lots of muscle and intensity. Full and savory. Chewy. Agile and formed. Beautiful ripe fruit in the center palate. This is a little pushed to the limit like the great Conseillants of the 1960s and 1970s. 96-97/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘A total knockout, the 2015 La Conseillante possesses stunning depth, nuance and complexity. Soaring aromatics meld into a core of dark-fleshed stone fruits, with hints of mocha, crème de cassis, menthol, violets and dark spices that develop in the glass. The 2015 is not an obvious wine, but it is exceptionally beautiful. The blend is 81% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc. Don’t' miss it. 95-97/100’. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

21 June 2016 - Cheval Blanc and Ausone

Tasting with Alain and Pauline Vauthier at Ausone and Arnaud and Pierre-Olivier at Cheval Blanc is a rare privilege. There’s little argument that these original Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ St Emilions are in a class of their own. Their terroirs are unique and matchless; their technical teams are unrivalled. Both vie for the wine of the vintage; Cheval Blanc with its masterful display of precision and its effortless tannins; Ausone with its hallmark aromatic profile and profoundly complex fruit. They both left members of the Justerinis & Brooks’ team speechless. These are amongst Bordeaux’s most ethereal and exceptional wines, which will no doubt rank alongside the legendary vintages from these great Chateaux.

Chateau Cheval Blanc
‘The 2015 Cheval Blanc represents the entire vineyard this year, since there is no Le Petit Cheval (two plots that did not meet requirements were not included in any blend). A blend of 45% Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Merlot, matured in 100% new oak, it has a very complex bouquet, subtle and tightly wound, very precise with dark berry fruit, hints of graphite, minerals and a hint of black pepper, perhaps a little spicier than recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with extraordinarily fine tannin. Beautifully balanced, perfectly controlled, this Cheval Blanc gently builds in the mouth, but remains strict and precise. The Cabernet Franc here is very expressive (though apparently the Merlot was showier prior to malolactic). This is an intellectual Cheval Blanc, thoroughly enjoyable, but it will need 10-12 years to really show its pedigree. A profound wine in the making, it will rank with the great wines of the past. 97-99/100’. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Chateau Ausone
‘A mindbinder of a wine with pure fruit and so much fine tannins and mineral character. It’s hyper tight and super polished. The palate starts off slowly and ends with a bang. Amazing endless finish. What an energy. 100/100’. – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

20 June 2016 - L’Evangile

Evangile is superbly situated between Petrus, Cheval Blanc and La Conseillante. There’s no doubt about the pedigree of this terroir, it is capable of producing mesmerizing wines; the 2005, 2009 and 2010 all spring to mind. Recent vintages have been less convincing, so we approached the 2015 with open minds, but not necessarily high expectations. What we discovered was one of the great Evangiles, possibly the most striking example under the Domaines Barons Rothschild ownership. Jean-Pascal Vazart and his team have excelled themselves and produced one of the richest, most lavish and extravagant Pomerols we’ve tasted from barrel, not just in 2015, but ever. This really is massively impressive, almost ostentatious wine, harnessing the ultra-flamboyant Merlot fruit with seductive, yet assured tannins. Superb!

‘The 2015 L'Evangile is a blend of 84% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Franc picked between September 15 and October 5, and September 29 to October 5 respectively. Matured almost in 100% new oak, it has a very pure and charming bouquet, the Merlot dominant and slightly shrouding the Cabernet Franc at the moment. It is worth staying with this Pomerol, because it does change after four to five minutes in the glass, revealing touches of truffle and iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, understated on the entry but gaining momentum in the glass, retaining a wonderful sense of symmetry and finishing with precision and class. This could well be the pick of the wines from the Domaines Barons Rothschild stable in 2015 and kudos to winemaker Jean-Pascal Vazart. Drink 2025-2055. 96-98/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘What a wine here. It is so traditional and powerful with super depth of fruit and chewy tannins. Full body, incredible concentration and length. It’s so muscular and powerful. So minerally and nutty (walnuts). Marvelous. 99-100/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

 

20 June 2016 - Lafite Rothschild

It may be the last of the First Growths to release (with the exception of Latour), but Chateau Lafite is still very much the number one brand in Bordeaux. The 2015 is the swansong for Charles Chevallier, the venerable wine-maker at Domaines Barons de Rothschild since 1982. It is an elegant and noble farewell to one of Bordeaux’s great characters and oenologes. Chapeau Charles!

‘The 2015 Lafite-Rothschild is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot picked between 17 September and 6 October. Matured in 100% new oak, it has a tightly-wound bouquet with black cherries, cassis, cedar and graphite, though it does not quite possess the depth one would have expected the vintage would have bestowed. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, harmonious on the entry and with the oak neatly integrated. There is a very fine grip towards the finish, which has a tangible spicy edge - white pepper with a touch of bay leaf and enough pencil lead to fill a stationery set. The aftertaste is extremely long here, more than a minute when I timed it on my watch. It is an excellent Lafite-Rothschild in the making and it often "finds its voice" only after bottling, so it could ultimately end with a higher score. Drink 2028-2060. 94-96/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘Here is a Lafite with lots of muscle and tone. Very tannic and velvety textured. Full body, fresh acidity and a bright finish. Shows a tenderness at the end. Gorgeous. 97-98/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘A dramatic, ample Lafite, the 2015 is also arrestingly beautiful and vivid. Expressive floral notes give the dark red and black flavors gorgeous aromatic lift. Today, the new oak is a bit pronounced, but otherwise, this is an exceptional wine. Rose petal, lavender, mint and purplish stone fruits add the last shades of detail. 94-97/100’. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

17 June 2016 - L’Eglise Clinet (and other wines from Denis Durantou)

After the big three of Pomerol: Petrus, Lafleur and Le Pin, L’Eglise Clinet is the Chateau constantly nipping at their heels, vying for equal glory. In fact, in some vintages such as 2005 and 2012, Denis Durantou’s flagship wine takes the plaudits and the crown. This is an estate that regularly achieves scores in the high nineties from The Wine Advocate, and occasionally pulls out a 100. The 2015 is all the things we have come to expect. It is a large-scale, multifaceted wine with equal parts grace and power. We feel that 2015 with its plushness of fruit and considerable pedigree will rival the wonderful 2005, 2009 and 2010 vintages. And at £1900 per dozen, it is a full £800 cheaper than the least of these comparable wines.

Even more compelling is the quite outstanding Petite Eglise, the second wine of L’Eglise Clinet. At £290 per dozen, you will not find a finer Pomerol for the money. If you missed them earlier in the campaign, we still have some cases of Denis’ excellent satellite wines: Montlandrie, Les Cruzelles, La Chenade and Saintayme. For those who haven’t tasted these beauties before; they represent some of the best values from Bordeaux. They are super-smart, modern examples of what can be achieved from some of the right bank’s lesser known appellations.

‘The 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, picked between 21-25 September at 41 hl/ha and matured in 70% new oak. Denis Durantou poured two samples for me. First from Darnajou barrel. Here, a very composed, effortless bouquet with extremely pure raspberry coulis, strawberry, almost confit-like scents that display ethereal delineation. This is not a powerful or intense bouquet, rather one that is sophisticated and refined, bunches of violet emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit, crisp acidity, mineral-rich and tensile. There is tangible energy and refinement on the finish that lingers long and tenderly in the mouth, a wine constantly having something more to say. The second came from Demptos barrel. This was deeper on the nose, showing a touch more fruit, slightly higher toned. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, structured in the mouth, perhaps the barrel impressing its character more on the wine than the Darnajou. Together, they should combine to create a quite magical 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet. Drink 2022-2045. 96-98’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘Lively and energized. Full body, intense and dense tannins. Great wine. Goes on for minutes. Such focus and clarity. 98-99/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘Denis Durantou's 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet is magnificent. A wine that has it all, the 2015 is vertical, dense and also remarkably translucent, all at the same time. The purity, freshness and energy of the 2015 is remarkable and yet the wine has immense depth. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2015 carries considerable tannic heft. In 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet is a wine of stature and true pedigree. The 2015 is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc brought in between September 21 and 25. Don't miss it. 95-97/100’. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

16 June 2016 - Ducru Beaucaillou

Ducru Beaucaillou’s ascendancy to the top in recent years has been fascinating to watch and taste. Though the ‘Super Second’ category is currently packed with estates utterly focused on quality, for us it is quite clear that Bruno’s Ducru Beaucaillou takes number one spot in 2015. This is a beautiful wine. So luxurious, and polished, it exhibits endless layers of decadent dark fruits and a lingering, moreish finish. It is utterly engaging.

‘The 2015 Ducru Beaucaillou is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, picked from around 28 September to 6 October. Matured in 100% new oak for what will be 18 months, delivering 13.5% alcohol, it has a relatively opulent bouquet for Saint Julien, with ripe black plum mixed with blackberry and cranberry, very well defined and neatly interwoven with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly savory opening, gently but insistently gripping the mouth. It feels dense and structured with a subtle marine-like note towards the linear, black olive-tinged finish. Bruno Borie has a 2015 with backbone, with longevity in mind. I suspect this will require a decade for the tannins to soften and continue the purple patch for this grand estate. Drink 2025 - 2050. 94-96/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

16 June 2016 - The wines of Baron Philippe de Rothschild

Philippe Dhalluin’s 2015s are sweeter than a last-minute injury time winner. When we tasted the Baron Philippe de Rothschild range we were stunned by the velvety textured fruit. From d’Armailhac to Mouton Rothschild, all their Pauillac estates possess this wonderful generosity of fruit and exotically spiced aromas. Mouton itself is a tour de force. We were delighted by its classical style and aromas of violet and graphite. Unusually, it is not perhaps as brooding and masculine as past examples; there is such an abundance of primary fruit it almost appears accessible. However, there is no mistaking, this is a serious wine. With aeration, more and more nuances emerge and one begins to see how multidimensional and complex this really is. It sits amongst the finest wines of this vintage, and must rank alongside recent greats such as 2000, 2009 and 2010.

We also have tiny allocations of Mouton’s wonderful second wine, Le Petit Mouton and their ravishing dry white, Aile d’Argent. If you missed them earlier in the campaign, we also have stock of Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac and Coutet, all wines under the Baron Philippe umbrella.

‘The 2015 Mouton-Rothschild is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc matured entirely in new oak, as usual. This represents a relatively high percentage of Merlot simply because, as winemaker Philippe Dhalluin told me, that quality was so good. I afforded my sample four to five minutes to open as it was a little reduced at first, but eventually it reveals a gorgeous, extraordinarily intense bouquet of blackberry, cassis, incense and cold slate aromas. In some ways it reminds me of Latour as much as Mouton Rothschild. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin, perfectly pitched acidity, wonderful tension and impressive length. There is a strong graphite theme running through from start to finish that is little grainy and so it will require preferably a decade in cellar. But what freshness and panache here, a classic Mouton-Rothschild that will live for 50 or 60 years, not a million miles away from say, the 1986 or 2010. Expect this to settle at the top of my banded score once in bottle. Drink 2027-2060. 97-99/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

15 June 2016 - Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion et al

It’s no secret that we love the wines of Haut Brion. Jean-Philippe Delmas makes sensational wines, and his 2015s are right up there with his best, possibly even surpassing their epic 2009s and 2010s. Neal Martin is unequivocal in his praise. ‘Everything here is so precise, so pure and yet as it crescendos towards the finish, it offers a profundity that is unmatched across Bordeaux in this vintage. Having had the pleasure of many great wines from this estate in the past - 1945, 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1989 - the 2015 belongs among that pantheon’. James Suckling doesn’t mince his words either, he describes La Mission as ‘mindblowing’ - he’s a straight 100 points on this!

These are grand, impressive, and also hugely seductive wines. The La Mission is more flamboyant and inviting at the moment, whereas the Haut Brion is typically brooding and reserved, but evidently full of promise. It is also worth mentioning the dazzling whites; all vital, exuberant, mineral – the epitome of Pessac Leognan Blanc; and two exceptional second wines: Clarence de Haut Brion and La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion. We can never remember tasting such sophisticated and handsome examples – these have real grand vin character and vie with anything else in this high achieving commune.

Chateau Haut Brion: ‘The 2015 Haut Brion, a blend of 50% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, was picked between 8 September and 5 October, and is matured in the same level of new oak (78%) and IPT (75) as the La Mission. It has a heavenly bouquet that like the La Mission bestows instant gratification - a veritable kaleidoscope of aromas so crystalline that you can pick them out one by one: dark plum, blackcurrant, Kalamata olive and graphite. It is tempting to just nose this all day. The palate has an indescribably stunning balance and like the La Mission, there is a paradoxical sense of intensity married to weightlessness. Everything here is so precise, so pure and yet as it crescendos towards the finish, it offers a profundity that is unmatched across Bordeaux in this vintage. Having had the pleasure of many great wines from this estate in the past - 1945, 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1989 - the 2015 belongs among that pantheon. Drink 2030-2075. 98-100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

La Mission Haut Brion: ‘The purity in this wine is really mindblowing. So perfect. Licorice. Stone. Blackberry, blueberry. Full body. The power is amazing. But then it finishes etheral (sic) and so agile and beautiful. I am lost for words. This will rank with the best ever from here including 1975 and 1929. 58% merlot, 35% cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc. 100/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, March 2016

 

14 June 2016 - ‘A superlative Léoville Las-Cases’ – Neal Martin

Léoville Las-Cases is arguably the most imperious wine from the Medoc. Like the imposing archway to the grand ‘Clos’, their wines are statuesque and grand. The vast proportion of the Grand Vin hails from the 55 hectare ‘Clos’ that dominates the north tip of St Julien and adjoins the vineyards of Latour.

Their 2015 is what you’d call a ‘profound’ wine. It evokes all the characteristics of great Leovilles of the past: noble flavours of cassis and minerals, huge length and regal tannins that firmly caress the mouth. This is clearly a wine of First Growth proportions and class. Some may lament the loss of Latour from the en primeur system, but you needn’t worry about that, Las Cases is every bit as good, and at £1475 per dozen, it’s significantly better value!

‘The 2015 Leoville Las-Cases has the highest Cabernet contents in recent years, 85% and 9% of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc respectively, partly because some of the old Merlot vines were blended into the deuxième vin. Picked between 22 September and 9 October, a total of 15 days picking, it will be matured in 85% new oak. The alcohol level is 13.8%, higher than 2010 for example. Jean-Hubert Delon has crafted an extremely pure and tensile bouquet, almost pixelated with blackberry, briary, slate and oyster shell aromas that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, svelte and sensual on the entry, the tannins a little edgy with a gentle crescendo: black fruit, tons of minerals, real focus and precision towards the finish. This is a superlative Léoville Las-Cases with the substance to suggest long-term aging will be repaid. Drink: 2028 – 2070. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

14 June 2016 - Elite St Emilion

Pavie and Angelus are very different terroirs and very different wines; however, they will probably forevermore be conjoined. Both Chateaux were promoted to St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A status in 2012, joining Ausone and Cheval Blanc in the very top echelon.

Both wines unsurprisingly get lofty scores, Angelus 99-100 and Pavie a straight 100/100 from James Suckling. These are big impressive wines, built for the long haul. At this stage, Angelus is much easier to understand; the fruit is beautiful and precise, the tannins are noble and there is a sense of freshness – it is a terrific and grand wine. The Pavie, in true Perse style is flamboyantly aromatic and hugely endowed with complex fruit, but it loses us with its overbearing tannins. This is not uncommon; in fact, this is a trait of Perse wines. From barrel they can feel a little cumbersome, but experience shows that a graceful transformation takes place in the bottle; the tannins melt into the wine framing the fruit rather than dominating it. It will in time no doubt be sublime.

Troplong Mondot completes our trio of St Emilion releases. This is yet another hugely impressive example; however, whereas in past years we have felt that the winemaking has been heavy handed and alcohol has been too prevalent, this 2015 has a real sense of composure and elegance. Yes it is big and ripe, but it remains fresh and vital. Bravo!

Angelus
'This shows the purity of Angelus. I have never tasted a wine from here with such incredible clarity. Full body, full fruit and full beauty. Super silky tannins. A joy to taste. Makes you want to drink it. 62% merlot and 38% cabernet franc. 99-100/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

Pavie
'For me, this redefines Pavie. The depth and intensity and more important, the clarity, is really something. Full and ultra-fine tannins. It shows such great tannins and finesse. It is the essences of Pavie. 100/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

Troplong Mondot
'A luscious and rich red with blackberry, chocolate and walnut aromas and flavors. Full body, very harmonious and super bright. All about clarity. A majority of merlot with some cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. 96-97/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, March 2016

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

13 June 2016 - A masterful Montrose

Is there a Chateau in Bordeaux more focussed on quality than Montrose? It seems that Hervé Berland is hell-bent on producing a wine of First Growth ambition. After all, as the former Managing Director of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, he knows what it takes… This is a money no object, attention to every minute detail operation. A complete geological survey has been undertaken, so every meticulous detail of their topography is mapped. They have experimented with harvesting fruit closest to the trunk of the vine first and vinifying this separately (this ripens ahead of the further flung fruit). Drones are regularly deployed above the vineyards to monitor health and hydric stress. In short, every possible human effort is made to produce the best possible Montrose.

Results over the last few vintages clearly display this commitment to quality. These are wines of staggering purity, with an ethereal lightness of touch, yet possess enormous power and regal tannins. We are in no doubt that this is a masterful Montrose, a quietly authoritative beauty that will garner reputation as it develops in bottle.

‘The 2015 Montrose is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 15 September and 8 October, the fruit sorted three times using three sorting tables, then an optical sorting machine and finally by hand. Matured in 65% new oak, it possesses some of the best aromatics you will find in the appéllation - billowing blackberry, cassis and boysenberry scents all beautifully defined and seamlessly integrated with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, commendable depth and a vibrant bead of acidity that lends this Montrose tension from start to finish. The class comes through strongly in this wine, perhaps the best Saint Estèphe this year. Give this a decade in bottle, more if you can, since Montrose tends to repay cellaring. Drink 2025-2060. 93-95/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

13 June 2016 - ‘A dazzling, towering’ Pichon Lalande

Nicolas Glumineau has only been at Pichon Lalande for three full vintages. In this short time, he has transformed the fortunes of this great estate and returned it to the very top of the Bordeaux hierarchy. The 2013, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon cuvee demonstrated the estate’s commitment to quality. The 2014 was arguably the wine of the vintage – the demand was staggering in what was a relatively pedestrian campaign. The 2015 is simply outstanding, the pinnacle of Nicolas’ achievement to date. We first tasted the incredible 2015 Pichon with Stephanie Danglade in February. It was a powerful, lavish, almost extravagant wine. When we re-tasted in April it was monumental, and with promise of more. It still has a plushness, with a luxurious array of fruit, but it has all come together so beautifully with mesmerising aromatics and a thoroughly captivating structure. It is perhaps the most accomplished Pauillac we tasted – a regal, floral effort, true to the noble traditions of this magnificent terroir.

The second wine, La Reserve de la Comtesse is also staggeringly good. At £285 per case, this gorgeous Pauillac bursting with violets and roses is too good to miss!

‘The 2015 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot that was picked from 10 September with the young Merlot, finishing on 9 October. It includes 12.5% vin de presse (which incidentally was included in the blend). It has a very pure bouquet with expressive Merlot imparting black cherries and wild strawberry aromas that are embroidered with a thread of graphite. I noticed how it errs more towards black fruit with extended aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin on the entry, the Cabernet Sauvignon here in the driving seat despite that level of Merlot trying to get in a look. Together they give a sense of completeness to this Pichon Lalande that has semblances towards the great 1996. Whereas this Pauillac has a tendency to be more approachable than others, in fact, the 2015 has the backbone and substance to suggest that it will require a minimum of ten years' ageing, but patience will be amply rewarded. Nicolas Glumineau has overseen a quite brilliant Pichon Lalande here. Drink 2027-2060. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘This is absolutely beautiful with super tannin quality that gives you the most silky texture. Precise. It goes for minutes. Full and concentrated yet all in balance. 96-97/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘A dazzling, towering wine, the 2015 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande has put on considerable weight in just the last few months. Today, the 2015 is vivid and intense, with a huge backbone of tannin and marvelous complexity. In 2015, the Cabernet Sauvignon is pushed higher as the Merlot was less consistent in its ripening. Graphite, charcoal, tobacco, crème de cassis and new leather are some of the signatures in what is shaping up to be a super-classic Pichon-Lalande. Simply put, the 2015 is one of the wines of the vintage. Tasted four times. 96-98/100’. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

09 June 2016 - Beauséjour Duffau Lagarrosse, Cos d'Estournel and Quintus

There has been a renaissance at Château Beauséjour Duffau Lagarrosse since Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt took the reins in time for the 2009 harvest. Both the 2009 and 2010 received the coveted 100 points from Mr Parker and now trade at about £3000 per case; great news for those who bought it en primeur. Robert Parker is a great admirer of this terroir, which is capable of producing wines on an epic scale. The 2015 doesn’t disappoint – it makes a real statement! At £760 per dozen and with 98-99 points from James Suckling, who incidentally thinks this is better than the mighty 1990 (100RP and trading at over 7K), this will be joining the ‘sold out’ list very soon.

Something that won’t grow wings will be Cos d’Estournel 2015 at £1272/12. The wine was quite good, it has a restraint that we liked, but it is no secret that St Estephe is not the darling appellation, and nor is Cos d’Estournel the most sought after Chateau, so quite what they are thinking releasing at this price is anybody’s guess. Even if you have a son or daughter called Cos born in 2015 – we can’t really recommend this wine to you.

It seems appropriate that Quintus and Dragon de Quintus have released over the Duanwu Festival. These two St Emilions produced by the Haut Brion team are very handsome wines indeed. They are available at £550/6 and £130/6 respectively.

 

08 June 2016 - Bordeaux 2015: Chateau Palmer

Margaux is one of the most accomplished communes in 2015. It has produced several profound wines, bursting with joyous fruit and wrapped in luxurious tannins. But if you want the best of the best, the cream, the elite, it has to be Chateau Palmer and Chateau Margaux. These two estates are head and shoulders above their neighbours.

Blessed with outstanding terroir, one of the most sophisticated technical teams and a near perfect growing season; it should hardly come as a surprise that Palmer is spectacular. James Suckling believes it could be a modern day 1961. It is sexy, sumptuous, complex and racy – a thoroughly alluring Palmer that will give decades of pleasure. If you want the very best, this is the price you have to pay!

‘A wine with incredible character and style with black ink and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, extremely fresh and structured with riffing tannins. It is muscular and powerful. White pepper, sea salt, mineral, stone character. A wine built for the long term. The making of the new 1961. 99-100/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

07 June 2016 - La Fleur Petrus, Belair Monange and Lafleur Gazin

Christian Moueix and his son Edouard have an enviable portfolio of Right Bank Chateaux. Today, we are delighted to offer La Fleur Petrus from Pomerol and Belair Monange from St Emilion. La Fleur Petrus has expanded in recent years absorbing La Providence and Chateau Guillot. Belair Monange has also been enlarged and now incorporates Chateau Magdelaine. You might think that blending these different terroirs would confuse or diminish the final wine, but nothing could be further from the truth – they just keep getting better and better. These are staggering, remarkable wines with an effortless purity and real magnetism – one is drawn in by their alluring bouquets and then gets hooked by their captivating fruit and minerality. Bravo to the Moueix wine-making team, they have done a fabulous job.

It is also worth pointing out that we have a few cases of Lafleur Gazin left. This property is situated between Gazin and the original plot of La Fleur Petrus; and we were most impressed. At £285 per dozen, it represents something of a bargain!

Belair Monange
‘Incredible depth of fruit to this wine with ultra-powerful tannins that remain agile and soft. So much intensity. It’s layered with ripe fruit and caressing mouth feel. Neoclassical in style. Mostly merlot with a touch of cabernet franc. 98-99/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

La Fleur Petrus
‘The power and depth of fruit here is extraordinary with incredible phenolic texture and caressing mouthfeel. Full and enticing. It’s a wine that shows power with finesse. Such contrast and greatness. 92% merlot, 7.5% cabernet franc and 0.5% petit verdot. 99-100/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

 

06 June 2016 - Pichon Baron & Clos Fourtet

Monday morning sees the release of two big names with huge scores: the mighty Pichon Baron (96-98/100) and Clos Fourtet (95-97/100). The Pichon boasts all the qualities we expect from this noble ‘Super Second’. It is powerful, imposing, muscular Pauillac, packed with ripe, juicy fruit and framed with large-scale tannins. As Neal says, this is right up there with the 2009 and 2010. As for Clos Fourtet, we were massively impressed. This is a wine that subtly seduces; it is graceful and charming, yet there is real latent power that keeps building to reveal wave after wave of glorious fruit. It is a superb, highly nuanced St Emilion from a truly exceptional right bank vintage.

‘The 2015 Pichon Baron is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot picked between 18 September until 9 October. Apparently Christian Seely made use of four additional 80-hectolitre wooden vats that augmented his stainless steel vessels. It has a very pure bouquet with lifted blackcurrant, blueberry and graphite aromas, beautifully delineated, the oak seamlessly embroidered with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. This is disarmingly and utterly harmonious with a startling mineral core. Possibly the most sensual Pichon Baron that I have tasted at this nascent juncture, it gently unfolds in the mouth and leaves with an enormously persistent finish that leaves the senses tingling. If you want to know whether this 2015 is up there with the 2009 or 2010, the answer is unquestionably yes. Drink 2022-2050. 96-98/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘The 2015 Clos Fourtet is a blend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, and it was picked between 18 September and 12 October. It has a voluminous bouquet with sweet cassis and blueberry aromas, rather smudged with violets coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with rounded tannin, ripe and voluptuous, dark chocolate infusing the red and black fruit with a touch of mint on the structured, graceful finish. What a fabulous Saint Emilion from Mathieu Cuvelier and his team - Clos Fourtet with breeding and class. It deserves 5-8 years in bottle. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

06 June 2016 - Scores galore - Pichon Baron and Clos Fourtet

Pichon Baron - “I don't mind saying it, but this wine is as good as a First Growth.” – Neal Martin

Monday morning sees the release of two big names with huge scores: the mighty Pichon Baron (96-98/100) and Clos Fourtet (95-97/100). The Pichon boasts all the qualities we expect from this noble ‘Super Second’. It is powerful, imposing, muscular Pauillac, packed with ripe, juicy fruit and framed with large-scale tannins. As Neal says, this is right up there with the 2009 and 2010. As for Clos Fourtet, we were massively impressed. This is a wine that subtly seduces; it is graceful and charming, yet there is real latent power that keeps building to reveal wave after wave of glorious fruit. It is a superb, highly nuanced St Emilion from a truly exceptional right bank vintage.

‘The 2015 Pichon Baron is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot picked between 18 September until 9 October. Apparently Christian Seely made use of four additional 80-hectolitre wooden vats that augmented his stainless steel vessels. It has a very pure bouquet with lifted blackcurrant, blueberry and graphite aromas, beautifully delineated, the oak seamlessly embroidered with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. This is disarmingly and utterly harmonious with a startling mineral core. Possibly the most sensual Pichon Baron that I have tasted at this nascent juncture, it gently unfolds in the mouth and leaves with an enormously persistent finish that leaves the senses tingling. If you want to know whether this 2015 is up there with the 2009 or 2010, the answer is unquestionably yes. Drink 2022-2050. 96-98/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘The 2015 Clos Fourtet is a blend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, and it was picked between 18 September and 12 October. It has a voluminous bouquet with sweet cassis and blueberry aromas, rather smudged with violets coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with rounded tannin, ripe and voluptuous, dark chocolate infusing the red and black fruit with a touch of mint on the structured, graceful finish. What a fabulous Saint Emilion from Mathieu Cuvelier and his team - Clos Fourtet with breeding and class. It deserves 5-8 years in bottle. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

06 June 2016 - Pavie Macquin

The whole Nicolas Thienpont and Stéphane Derenoncourt stable was very impressive this year. From the little Puygueraud right up to the sensational Beauséjour Duffau Lagarrosse, the wines were a joy to taste. But for us, the wine that displayed the most class and refinement was Pavie Macquin. The fruit is so svelte and pure – this is ripe and decadent, yet there is nothing overblown – this has tension and a vital streak of acidity that is ever so mouth-watering. Situated on the plateau above Chateau Pavie and next to Troplong Mondot, Pavie Macquin’s enviable terroir has clearly excelled in 2015!

‘The purity of fruit and focus in this wine is so impressive. Full body, powerful and persistent. It goes on for minutes here. 96-97/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘A pure style, with a bright cassis aroma and a core of plum and bitter cherry notes, allied to a lightly chalky spine. Long and refined, showing lovely cut and precision. 94-97/100’. - James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

‘The 2015 Pavie Macquin is another tremendous wine from Nicolas Thienpont and his team. Inky, rich and voluptuous the 2015 is endowed with remarkable depth and plenty of underlying energy to back it all up. The flavors are dark, bold and incisive, as are the tannins. The 2015 is going to require quite a bit of time to come together, but it is impressive, that much is obvious. Pavie Macquin is 84% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between September 29 and October 17 and aged in 60% new oak. 93-96/100’. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

03 June 2016 - Two of the very best

It’s not really a secret that Margaux and Pessac Leognan are two of the best performing communes in 2015. In Brane Cantenac and Domaine de Chevalier, we have two of the most sublime, awe-inspiring wines of the vintage. The Lurton owned Brane is back with a bang with a wine that will rival their exceptional 2009. This is just glorious; a luxurious, effortless wine that seduced us with its glorious perfume and mass of suave fruit. It is right up there with Rauzan Segla amongst the best wines of the appellation. Whilst we agree with Neal’s score (although he is maybe a little on the conservative side), we are at odds with his note. This has tons of fruit, in fact it is one of the ripest and most generous wines we tasted!

Olivier Bernard’s Domaine de Chevalier also mixes it with the elite. The red is serious, concentrated stuff, yet has a grace and subtlety that many Pessacs are lacking. Neal Martin is spot on with his analysis. ‘What a fabulous, intellectual wine from Olivier Bernard. Expect four decades of drinking pleasure - probably more - given my experience of ancient vintages’. We wholeheartedly agree – this is magnificent stuff. The only problem is, we can’t decide between Brane and DDC. It’ll have to be one of each then!

We also have tiny quantities of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. This along with Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc is our favourite (affordable) white Pessac.

‘The 2015 Brane-Cantenac is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenère that was picked from 17 September until 7 October (that Carmenère was actually picked on 19 October). It was cropped at 51 hl/ha. This is classic Brane-Cantenac down the line: austere at first, almost aloof, but very well defined and over time it starts revealing lovely tobacco-stained black fruit. The palate is very well balanced with raspberry and wild strawberry on the entry, perhaps more red fruit than I was anticipating. Veins of undergrowth and cedar are in situ on this very well-balanced, reserved and classic Margaux boasting a long and persistent finish that feels satisfying, reassuring even. Not a Margaux for those that seek tons of fruit, it is nonetheless a very terroir-expressive wine that will repay those who know that this cru demands preferably 12-15 years in the cellar. Henri Lurton never wavers from his style of Margaux and it pays dividends here on this great wine for those with patience. Drink 2030-2060. 93-95/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

The 2015 Domaine de Chevalier is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot picked from 23 September until 15 October at just 35 hl/ha, matured in 35% new oak. It has a sophisticated bouquet that is more reserved than its peers. It possesses one of the most precise, detailed aromatic profiles that I have encountered from this estate, wonderfully poised with black fruit, incense and cold stone. It has wonderful focus and class. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, very complex with lightly peppered black fruit. What marks this Domaine de Chevalier is the reserve and precision on the finish, a wine that is holding something back for its secondary evolution, a salinity that beckons you back for another sip. What a fabulous, intellectual wine from Olivier Bernard. Expect four decades of drinking pleasure - probably more - given my experience of ancient vintages. Tasted three times with consistent notes. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

02 June 2016 - Chateau Trottevieille

Another arresting 98-99 point Suckling score for all our readers. And it’s not just Mr Suckling who has fallen head over heels for this Casteja owned estate – The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin is 94 to 96 points on this!

Stocks are extremely limited, so please hurry if you would like to secure an allocation.

‘This is phenomenal. Greatest wine from here. Such class and power. It starts off slowly and then goes on for minutes. Full body. Yet racy. The new 1961 Trotte. 98-99/100’. – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘The 2015 Trottevieille is blend of 49% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 28 September and 9 October matured in 100% new oak. It has a very intense bouquet, tightly wound with red and black fruit, hints of truffle coming through with aeration and then it appears to calm down and achieve a wonderful level of definition. The palate is medium-bodied with superb clarity. It feels supple in the mouth, extremely pure and soaking up the new oak with ease. It has a lively orange sorbet and red fruit-driven finish that is silky smooth in texture, thanks to the fineness of the tannin. Cellar this for 5-8 years minimum and then revel in this ascendant Saint Emilion for the next three or four decades. Drink 2022-2050. 94-96/100’. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

02 June 2016 - Talbot, St Pierre and Gloria

There is a distinct St Julien theme to this offer. Henri Martin’s excellent St Pierre and Gloria, and the Cordier family’s Chateau Talbot are all a stone’s throw away from one another at the heart of the appellation. These were all solidly made, proper clarets that offer good value for money, and will be a joy to pull out of the cellar in ten to fifteen years’ time.

The Martin wines are impressive as usual. Jancis Robinson enthuses about Gloria. ‘Very good concentrated glossy fruit. Polished and racy. A very neat, accomplished rendition that's almost drinkable already, so well handled are the tannins. Bravo!’. The St Pierre is perhaps a little more ambitious still – a very stylish brace!

Talbot 2015 is a very smart wine, perhaps the most elegant we have seen at this estate since the 1982 and 1986. While it isn’t a blockbuster like Leoville Barton and Poyferre, there is plenty of substance and some rather refined tannins. People who follow this estate are rarely disappointed; 2015 will give a good deal of added pleasure.

 

02 June 2016 - Larcis Ducasse, Canon la Gaffelière and Clos L’Eglise

Today sees the release of three big names from the Right Bank. Nicolas Thienpont, Stephan von Neipperg and Hélène Garçin-Léveque are all famed for their large-scale, impressive wines. We were thrilled by Nicolas’ range, and it came as no surprise that they received high praise from a number of esteemed critics. Larcis Ducasse is a remarkable wine: dense, exotic, structured, yet so enticing and pleasurable. We also really enjoyed Canon la Gaffelière. This is a striking St Emilion, which is gaining restraint and class. Unfortunately we didn’t taste Clos L’Eglise 2015. This is usually deeply concentrated with enormous tannins. Perhaps change is afoot here too; Neal Martin describes it as a ‘wonderful Pomerol, almost understated, but full of personality’.

2015 Larcis Ducasse – 240GBP/6

‘The 2015 Larcis-Ducasse is a blend of 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet France, picked between 28 September and 10 October, 7-13 October respectively. Cropped at 37 hl/ha it is being matured in 500-liter barrels. It has an intense nose of raspberry preserve, boysenberries and an almost honeyed-like richness that thankfully retains freshness and delineation, when it could have been over-powering. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, a little grainy in texture, very well-balanced and graceful, gently building to a convincing, quite minerally, blackberry and wild strawberry finish. There is superb terroir expression here, an excellent Larcis-Ducasse that should offer 3-4 decades of drinking pleasure. Drink 2022-2055. 94-96/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘Hard to believe this. It has a minerality and intensity like a great white wine with so much chalky character that it gives an oyster shell flavor. Full and racy. Shaking my head in intrigue. Wonderfully silky tannins. 98-99/100’. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

‘One of the stars of the vintage, the 2015 Larcis Ducasse is intensely aromatic, silky and totally sensual from the very first taste. The purity of the fruit here is striking. Even so, it will be many years before the 2015 is ready to show all it's got. Today, it is the wine's total sense of harmony that is absolutely alluring. A rush of raspberry jam, pomegranate and blood orange leaves a lasting impression. The 2015 is a dramatic, richly-textured Larcis Ducasse long on class and pedigree. The blend is 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc picked between September 28 and October 12 and aged in 50% new oak. Tasted two times. 94-97/100’. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

01 June 2016 - Leoville Poyferre, Calon Segur, Cantenac Brown and Gruaud Larose

After weeks of stuttering starts, Bordeaux awoke today and meant serious business. First out of the traps was Didier Cuvelier’s excellent Leoville Poyferre. This second growth St Julien is the most exuberant and lavish of all the Leovilles. We were fortunate to taste many barrels in February with their winemaker, Didier Thomann, and we were stunned by the opulence of the components. Tasting the final blend in April was fascinating – the assemblage is a wine of tremendous depth, with a more serious and brooding character than the individual components displayed. This is a grand-scale wine, a true ‘Super-Second’, that will be considerably cheaper than most of its peers. If you missed out on Leoville Barton, don’t panic, pick up a Poyferre.

Also, from St Julien, and also a second growth, Gruaud Larose is available at £485 per dozen. This was the most classy and sophisticated Gruaud we have tasted for many years – cool damson and brambly fruit wrapped in a corset of fine tannins. Hopefully this heralds a new era for Gruaud.

An estate that has been on fine form for many years, yet still continues to strive for even greater results is Calon Segur. Laurent Duffau is honest about the 2015 vintage; there was some rain at the beginning of September, so Calon doesn’t have the depth and mid-palate of some of its more southerly contemporaries. However, this is a strikingly pure and refined Calon that will be a joy to drink in ten years’ time - a Calon of great clarity and purpose.

The final release of the morning is Cantenac Brown from Margaux. We don’t generally fall under the spell of this chateau. It has a habit of over working the wine, or at least that’s the impression we get. The 2015 was a revelation. It is a big, punchy wine, but it has real grace and is, well, very ‘Margaux’. Well done to the team here. It may not be as massive as the 2009 was from barrel, but we think this is more harmonious and more authentic. At £350 per dozen it is a fair price, but perhaps the Malescot St Exupery at £370 per dozen is even more compelling.

 

01 June 2016 - Grand Puy Lacoste, Haut Batailley and Lacoste Borie

You know it’s been a busy day when you are writing your third primeur offer… Bordeaux has been making up for lost time. Leoville Poyferre, Gruaud Larose, Cantenac Brown, Calon Segur, Smith Haut Lafitte, and now, Xavier Borie’s Grand Puy Lacoste, Haut Batailley and Lacoste Borie have released.

High flying Grand Puy Lacoste is a regular Justerini & Brooks favourite. It is a typically a contender for best value Cru Classé on the Medoc, the 2015 being no exception. Situated on deep gravel croups close to fellow Fifth Growths, Lynch Bages and Pontet Canet, the wines are classically styled with notes of violets, graphite and cassis. The 2015 maintains the archetypal character we associate with this estate, but is a little more buxom than normal. It boasts dazzling aromatics and stunning delineation. This is a spectacular effort that will rival the great GPLs from 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 - unsurprisingly “Buy” was a word that featured regularly in our notes.

GPL’s sister estate, Haut Batailley also put in a mighty strong performance in 2015. Again, it is true to the house style, with more concentration, more voluptuous fruit, and the impression of greater generosity. We were smitten, and at £300 per dozen, one will be hard pushed to find a more attractive Pauillac for the money. The second wine of Grand Puy Lacoste, Lacoste Borie is another of our ‘top value’ selections. This is always pleasing and very reasonably priced. The 2015 will be lots of fun for the dinner table in 5-10 years’ time.

‘The 2015 Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, matured in 75% new oak and was picked between September 18 until October 4 (although the "real" picking commenced from September 21). Now, Grand-Puy-Lacoste is often quite "aloof" at this early juncture, but that is not the case with the 2015. This is more approachable aromatically, beautifully defined, thanks to that expressive Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin and finely tuned acidity (pH 3.68). Beguilingly harmonious in the mouth, it boasts a silky smooth texture with wonderful salinity on the aftertaste that is sustained in the mouth. As usual, Xavier Borie has produced a "classic" Pauillac, but one that is a little more appeasing to those that don't want to cellar for 20-30 years. You could describe the 2015 as being between 2009 and 2010...and that, folks, is not a bad place to be. Drink 2028-2060. 94-96/100’. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

01 June 2016 - Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Smith Haut Lafitte has come a long way since Daniel and Florence Cathiard took the reins in 1990. This is now a state of the art Chateau incorporating all the best viticultural practices with modern winemaking techniques. We have watched and admired as the quality has improved, culminating in the 100 point 2009; although, we’re not sure we don’t prefer the 2010! 2015 is yet another spellbinding vintage at this estate. The red has it all; wonderful aromatics, stunning purity of flavour and the most gorgeous velvety texture. Unsurprisingly, it warrants an enormous 95-97 points from Neal Martin! This is exactly the same score and price as Pape Clement Rouge (which sold out in quick time), the only difference is, you’ll have a lot more fun with this in your cellar!

The white is also rather spectacular with its complex aromatics, gorgeous texture and long, vibrant finish. Neal quite rightly describes it as ‘another outstanding white Smith-Haut-Lafitte from winemaker Fabien Tietgen and the famille Cathiard’.

Allocations are quite limited to please communicate your interest to your Account Manager and we will do our best to fulfil your order.

The 2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte is adorned with a special label to celebrate the 650th anniversary of the château and the 25th vintage made under the ownership of Daniel and Florence Cathiard. It is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, picked between 23 September until 12 October with the Cabernet Franc. Matured in 65% new oak (although technical director Fabien Teitgen mentioned that he could have added more if he felt it would benefit), it has a very intense, blueberry and crème de cassis scented bouquet, a touch more opulent than its peers with hints of freshly shucked oyster shell developing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin couched in gorgeous, satin-textured black cherry and cassis fruit, tinged with cedar and pencil shavings. It lingers very long and sensually in the mouth, completing a sophisticated and powerful Smith Haut-Lafitte that should age in splendid fashion. 95-97/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate.

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

31 May 2016 - Canon and Rauzan Segla

François Hollande visited Bordeaux today to open the very impressive la Cité du Vin. It looked like there wouldn't be any releases, until, just as negociants were preparing to clock off, the Wertheimer owned Chateaux, Rauzan Segla and Canon shocked everyone. These are two of the most impressive and sought after wines of the vintage. It is likely that demand will far outstrip supply, so this will be allocated. Please register your interest with your Account Manager.

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

20 May 2016 - ‘an excellent Batailley… 93-95 points’

Philippe and Frédéric Castéja’s excellent Chateau Batailley just got a bit more excellent. Thanks to the introduction of a new second wine, Les Lions de Batailley, the Grand Vin has a touch more class. This has always represented fantastic value for money and offered lots of accessible Pauillac fruit and character, but in 2015, Batailley appears to be more floral and more refined. Unfortunately the creation of Les Lions has reduced the quantity of Grand Vin by a third and also pushes the price to £355/12, but we think the wine more than warrants this increase.

‘The 2015 Batailley is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot cropped at 48 hl/ha picked between 17-30 September. Matured in around 55-60% new oak, it has a very focused, intense bouquet with blackberry, raspberry, cedar and mineral notes, perhaps a little Margaux-like in style as those violets blossom with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, well-judged acidity, a touch of white pepper here lending edginess, gradually building to a very composed and structured finish. This is an excellent Batailley, meliorated by the introduction of a second wine, that continues the upswing in quality over the last six or seven years. I would not be surprised if this settles at the top of my banded score once in bottle. Drink 2022-2050. 93-95/100’. Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘Wow. The shows a new level of excellence with mint, mineral and currant character. Full body, super fine tannins and a savory finish. New definition here. Precision. New second wine from this estate moved up the quality. 94-95/100’. – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

 

19 May 2016 - Giscours, Le Dôme and Duhart Milon

The high flying, 94-96 point Chateau Giscours has put in quite a performance this year. Margaux is certainly one of the top performing communes in 2015, and this has certainly caught the eye of Neal Martin. He thinks it ‘will be the best since the 1961’!

‘The 2015 Giscours is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. That is in stark comparison to older vintages, for example the 2000 Giscours that was 50/50 Cabernet and Merlot. This vintage is matured in 50% new oak. Winemaker Alexandre Van Beek told me that the 2015 "...reflects the true terroir at Giscours that created the great wines of the 1960s and 1970s." That is something to live up to with fresh memories of the 1961 in my brain. The bouquet is very intense and almost "untamed" at first, but it calms down in the glass, revealing attractive scents of blackberry, raspberry, cedar and graphite. This is a Giscours determined to make a good impression...and it does. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very pure, a little spicier than recent vintages, adorned with a gentle crescendo in the mouth towards a really quite fantastic, tensile, complex and compelling finish. Having tasted the 1961 and 1970 Giscours just a few months ago, I wager that the 2015 will be the best since the 1961. Time to fall back in love with this great Margaux property. Drink 2025-2060. 94-96/100'. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Jonathan Maltus’ flagship, Le Dôme, was a standout wine in 2015. Produced from 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, it is impressively concentrated as one would expect, but this also offers a gorgeous aromatic profile, combined with a seriously refined structure. It is certainly up there with the heavenly 2009 and 2010 at this early stage, but if anything, this is more elegant and sophisticated. It really is a stunning example.

‘The 2015 Le Dôme is a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot picked on October 2 and 6. It has a clean and precise bouquet, tightly wound at first, gently warming up, developing more delineation and focus. This might be a more understated Le Dôme compared to recent years, but you might argue more sophisticated. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive density, a vein of dark chocolate on the entry that is rapidly overtaken by layers of lightly spiced black fruit. The finish is tightly wound at the moment, but it will open by the time of bottling. What I like here is the fineness of the tannin, something not always exuded by Maltus' top cuvée. It simply expresses the joys of Cabernet Franc and it should age nicely over the next 5-20 years. Drink 2021-2045. 94-96/100’. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Our final release is from an old favourite of ours, Chateau Duhart Milon. This Lafite Rothschild estate has had a turbulent ride over the past 10 years, with prices being seriously inflated and deflated by the Chinese market. One thing that has remained on a constant upward trajectory is the quality. Charles Chevallier and his team continue to produce exceptional wines at this excellent 4th Growth Estate. Despite its appeal in the East, the release prices remain resolutely fair, and this often represents one of the best value buys in Pauillac.

2015
 
1x300cl
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£200.00 ep
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3x150cl
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£257.50 ep
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6x75cl
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£280.00 ep
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1x6L
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£400.00 ep
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6x150cl
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£515.00 ep
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2015
 
6x75cl
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£490.00 ep
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19 May 2016 - Leoville Barton, Branaire Ducru, Lagrange, Lascombes and Climens

Well, we were expecting a quiet week before Vinexpo - how wrong we were. Yesterday afternoon Pontet Canet (795GBP/12) released with plenty of fanfare and promptly sold out in Bordeaux. Even later in the day, Bruno Borie offered Croix de Beaucaillou (£320/12) and Lalande Borie (£180/12), two wines we highly recommend. And the pace continues to step up. This morning we have news from a trio of St Julien Chateaux: Leoville Barton, Branaire Ducru and Lagrange, as well as Lascombes and Climens.

St Julien was one of the most consistent and highest performing communes in 2015. Leoville Barton (£580/12) was right up there with the best of the best – this is a monumental, hugely concentrated wine with a score of 94-96 from The Wine Advocate. It is a true Leoville Barton that will delight its legion of devoted fans, with perhaps a little more refinement and elegance than normal. It is almost certainly as good as any of the truly great Leoville Barton vintages, and likely to wow drinkers for two decades or more. Patrick Maroteaux’s Branaire Ducru also put in a very strong performance. It isn’t a blockbuster like the Leoville; it is a graceful, charming wine with plenty of breed that will be a joy to drink in 10 years’ time. Lagrange by contrast is always sinewy and a bit mean. Even in a great vintage like 2015, it’s hard to love. You can have a lot more fun with Croix de Beaucaillou or Lalande Borie!

Further south in the commune of Margaux, Chateau Lascombes (£535/12) has released. This is not a wine or a style we particularly fond of. Malescot St Exupery (£370/12) offers far more class and much better value for money.

Continuing our journey southwards, from the misty vineyards of Barsac, we have what will be the most celebrated sweet wine of the 2015 campaign. Yquem is unlikely to release, so Climens (£510/12), very much gets top billing. Alas, we didn’t have time to visit Bérénice, but her wine gets a whopping 96-98 points from Neal Martin. We’re sure it’ll be a stunner.

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

19 May 2016 - 'You gotta admit it's getting better!' - Jonathan Maltus

Jonathan Maltus’ flagship, Le Dôme, was a standout wine in 2015. Produced from 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, it is impressively concentrated as one would expect, but this also offers a gorgeous aromatic profile, combined with a seriously refined structure. It is certainly up there with the heavenly 2009 and 2010 at this early stage, but if anything, this is more elegant and sophisticated. It really is a stunning example.

‘The 2015 Le Dôme is a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot picked on October 2 and 6. It has a clean and precise bouquet, tightly wound at first, gently warming up, developing more delineation and focus. This might be a more understated Le Dôme compared to recent years, but you might argue more sophisticated. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive density, a vein of dark chocolate on the entry that is rapidly overtaken by layers of lightly spiced black fruit. The finish is tightly wound at the moment, but it will open by the time of bottling. What I like here is the fineness of the tannin, something not always exuded by Mathus' top cuvée. It simply expresses the joys of Cabernet Franc and it should age nicely over the next 5-20 years. Drink 2021-2045. 94-96/100’. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

We can also offer the high flying, 94-96 point Chateau Giscours. This isn’t a wine that usually thrills us, but Margaux is one of the top performing communes in 2015. This has certainly caught the eye of Neal Martin. He thinks it ‘will be the best since the 1961’!

‘The 2015 Giscours is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. That is in stark comparison to older vintages, for example the 2000 Giscours that was 50/50 Cabernet and Merlot. This vintage is matured in 50% new oak. Winemaker Alexandre Van Beek told me that the 2015 "...reflects the true terroir at Giscours that created the great wines of the 1960s and 1970s." That is something to live up to with fresh memories of the 1961 in my brain. The bouquet is very intense and almost "untamed" at first, but it calms down in the glass, revealing attractive scents of blackberry, raspberry, cedar and graphite. This is a Giscours determined to make a good impression...and it does. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very pure, a little spicier than recent vintages, adorned with a gentle crescendo in the mouth towards a really quite fantastic, tensile, complex and compelling finish. Having tasted the 1961 and 1970 Giscours just a few months ago, I wager that the 2015 will be the best since the 1961. Time to fall back in love with this great Margaux property. Drink 2025-2060. 94-96/100'. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Our final release is from an old favourite of ours, Chateau Duhart Milon. This Lafite Rothschild estate has had a turbulent ride over the past 10 years, with prices being seriously inflated and deflated by the Chinese market. One thing that has remained on a constantly upward trajectory, is the quality. Charles Chevallier and his team continue to produce exceptional wines at this excellent 4th Growth Estate. Despite its appeal in the East, the release prices remain resolutely fair, and this often represents one of the best value buys in Pauillac.

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18 May 2016 - The wines of Bruno Borie

We thought, that was a wrap for the day, but Bruno Borie had other ideas... He has released the stunning second wine of Ducru Beaucaillou, La Croix de Beaucaillou (£320/12) and his other St Julien estate, Lalande Borie (£180/12). Both are spectacular, juicy wines, brimming with ripe, sleek fruit. They were a joy to taste and in April and they will no doubt give masses of pleasure over the next 15 years or more. Neal Martin describes the Croix as a ‘seriously classy "deuxième vin"’, while James Suckling awards it an impressive 93-94 points. For those who like their claret glossy, sexy and sensual, these will very much hit the spot!

 

18 May 2016 - Lafon Rochet, Quinault L’Enclos, Fonbel and Moulin Saint Georges

Basile Tesseron of Lafon Rochet has teamed up with Jean Claude Berrouet, the wine-maker at Petrus for over forty years. Jean Claude also consults at Chateau Lafleur, Certan de May and Petrus. Lafon Rochet has certainly benefited from his light touch. In the past, the wines here had concentration and power, but lacked a bit of finesse and charm. Jean Claude Berrouet favours gentle extractions and refined tannins. This was evident in 2015. Gone are any hints of rusticity. This was all about cool, clear fruit, beautifully delineated flavours and fine, sophisticated tannins. Bravo Basile.

Over on the right bank, the team at Cheval Blanc has released Quinault L’Enclos. This project, situated on the outskirts of Libourne, has been transformed since Pierre Olivier Clouet and his team took control. The Cheval Blanc style of precision and clarity is very apparent. Whilst one cannot claim that this rivals the magnificent Cheval Blanc 2015, it is made in the same mould, with the focus on gentle extraction, elegant flavours and the silkiest of tannins. At £235/12 it offers excellent value for money.

Sticking with the right bank, we also have two of Alain and Pauline Vauthier’s wines: Fonbel and Moulin Saint Georges. Again, these hail from more humble terroir than sister estate, Chateau Ausone, but the same care and devotion goes into the vineyard and vinifications. The results this year are spectacular. The profiles are less wild than normal, but both offer plenty of intoxicating, brambly fruit, lithe mid-palates and long, racy finishes. The Fonbel will provide wonderful early drinking, while the Moulin Saint Georges will be sumptuous in its youth and have the potential to age for a couple of decades.

 

18 May 2016 - Chateau Pontet Canet

Just when we thought Bordeaux was closing its shutters and heading east for Vinexpo, the maverick propriétaires of Pontet Canet, Alfred and Melanie Tesseron have released their spectacular 2015. The critics and trade are unanimously enthused by this magnificent wine. It is sumptuous, seductive and glossy, yet has a Pauillac classicism and a real sense of place. These devotees and pioneers of Bordeaux biodynamism are thoroughly vindicated with this awesome wine.

Antonio Galloni describes this as a hypothetical blend of the 2009 and 2010, wines that both achieved 100 points. At £795 per dozen, the 2015 Pontet Canet is almost half the price of these vintages, making this look like a very smart buy!

‘The 2015 Pontet Canet was tasted on two occasions around two weeks apart and I noticed a superior showing the second time around. This year is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot that was picked from 18 September apropos the Merlot and from 28 September for the Cabernet, finishing on 3 October. It is matured in 50% new oak, 35% concrete and 15% one-year-old barrels. It has a pure and perfumed bouquet with small dark cherries, red plum and subtle violet scents, perhaps a little Margaux-like in style, the second showing demonstrating a little more red fruit character. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly grainy texture on the entry. There is nicely judged acidity here, moderate depth, very supple tannin that lend this a silky texture. There is modest weight towards the second half, perhaps spicier than some of its Pauillac peers with an edgy, lightly peppered finish. It is an intriguing and complex, almost mercurial Pontet-Canet, a wine that I suspect will gain more weight during its élevage. Afford this 5-8 years in bottle and you should have a delicious, intellectual Pontet-Canet on your hands. Drink 2022-2045” 94-96/100’. - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

‘One of the wines of the vintage, the 2015 Pontet-Canet oozes class, finesse and pure pedigree. A hypothetical combination of the 2010 (for its dark fruit and tannic structure) and the 2009 (for its voluptuous fruit), the 2015 offers remarkable intensity, power and grace. A host of exotic floral and spice notes wrap around the dark, racy finish. In a word: magnificent! The 2015 is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, aged 50% in new oak, 35% in terra cotta amphora and 15% in one year-old barrels. 95-98/100’. - Antonio Galloni

‘This is very fine and silky with a beautiful vivid blackberry and blueberry character. Super polished tannins. Refined and very, very long. Fabulous harmony to this young wine. Very classic Bordeaux. Superb depth and length. Real Bordeaux. 97-98/100’. - James Suckling

‘Deep, velvety texture on the palate and wild flowers on the nose; unctuous yet firm with pristine clarity. A great wine by any standards – and the standards of Alfred Tesseron for his biodynamic vineyards and amphora-matured wine are magnificently evident. 96/100’. – Decanter Magazine

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

12 May 2016 - Clerc Milon, Clos du Marquis, Pape Clement Blanc and Bonalgue

Today, we have witnessed the release and re-positioning of Chateau Clerc Milon. Philippe Dhalluin and the Mouton Rothschild team have ambitious plans for this 5th growth estate. The 41 hectares of vines are superbly positioned on the Gironde side of Mouton and Lafite and with First Growth know-how; the wines are really beginning to shine. The release price of £480 is a big increase on past vintages, but if you scour the market, you won’t find mature wines for less. This is a Chateau very much on the up!

Chateau Leoville Las Cases has released Clos du Marquis (definitely not a second wine, rather a unique terroir mainly lying to the west of St Julien High Street). The 2015 is a beautiful wine. As one would expect from Monsieur Delon and co., this is proper claret. It’s strict, correct and muscular. It’ll need time, but it’ll no doubt develop into a stunner. The only slight sticking point is the price. At £385 per dozen, it’s far from the cheapest vintage in the market.

For those who like impressive, heavily oaked Bordeaux blanc, Pape Clement Blanc is available at £990/12. We also can offer a rather good value Pomerol, Chateau Bonalgue (£200/12). This 91-93 point wine ‘is one of the best Bonalgue releases in recent years’.

‘The 2015 Bonalgue is now 100% Merlot since proprietor Jean-Baptiste Bourotte pulled up his Cabernet vines. It has a seductive bouquet, understated at first but pure, gradually gaining complexity with sage and white pepper scents. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, fleshy on the entry, feminine and elegant, fanning out to a really poised and elegant finish. This is one of the best Bonalgue releases in recent years. 91-93/100’. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

 

12 May 2016 - Cruzelles, Montlandrie, Chenade & Saintayme

Denis Durantou, of L’Eglise Clinet fame, is one of the most gifted vignerons in Bordeaux. The likes of Robert Parker and other notable members of the wine press swoon over his wines; and perhaps more tellingly, members of the wine trade can’t get enough of them.

Magnificent as the L’Eglise Clinet is, it is not everyday drinking (except for the lucky few). Besides, this wine merits long term cellaring to display its full spectrum of nuances. The smart buys are from Denis’ two Lalande de Pomerol estates, La Chenade and Les Cruzelles, Saintayme from St Emilion and Montlandrie from Castillon. Here Denis has acquired some very smart terroir in less glamourous postcodes and plies his considerable talents into the vineyards and during wine-making. And the results are spectacular!

We have waxed lyrical before about just how wonderful these wines are, and what exceptional value they represent. They are immensely pleasurable to drink when young and they have the ability to age gracefully for up to two decades. And it’s not just us who thinks so. Customers regularly come back to these wines for their seductive fruit and velour textures. The 2015s are perhaps Denis’ best range yet, with Les Cruzelles and Montlandrie shining particularly brightly. It was no surprise then that they received such overwhelming and unanimous praise. Bravo Denis!

Saintayme
‘The 2015 Saintayme is pure Merlot picked between 29 September and 9 October, cropped at 45 hl/ha and raised in 30% new oak. It has a gorgeous bouquet with blackberry and cranberry fruit, a touch of vanilla emanating from the new oak that is nicely integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with good depth, a "solid" Saintayme, a pleasant chewiness with a feisty dark berry, licorice-tinged finish. This comes recommended - a fine Saint Emilion from the hands of Denis Durantou. Drink 2018-2030. 90-92/100’. - Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

La Chenade
‘The 2015 La Chenade is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc picked between September 15-25 and on October 5 respectively, cropped at 45 hectoliters per hectare and matured in 30% new oak. This Lalande-de-Pomerol moves towards red fruit on the nose, crushed strawberry and raspberry pastilles, candied and somehow...joyful. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, very fine in the mouth with a keen line of acidity. This is a very cohesive La Chenade, elegant and composed with a touch of salinity towards the finish. This is a graceful La Chenade that should drink early, but clearly has the substance to offer 12-15 years of drinking pleasure. Drink 2018-2032. 91-93/100’. - Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

Les Cruzelles
‘The 2015 Les Cruzelles is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc on gravel/clayey soil, picked from September 15-22 and October 6 respectively, then matured in 45% new oak. The new wood is seamlessly integrated into this Lalande-de-Pomerol, more broody and introspective than the La Chenade at the moment, but very well defined. The palate is beautifully proportioned with crisp tannin, a fine line of acidity, somehow gentle and understated on the finish, but very long in the mouth. Yet another ridiculously fine wine to load up on, courtesy of Denis Durantou. Drink 2018-2035. 91-93/100’. - Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

Montlandrie
‘The 2015 Montlandrie is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, picked between September 29 and October 8, and matured in 45% new oak. This is perhaps more precocious on the nose compared to Denis Durantou's La Chenade and Les Cruzelles 2015s, gradually revealing an attractive floral, dried rose petal/pot pourri scent as it opens in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, quite grippy in the mouth, the acidity nicely judged here and again, very harmonious and sensual on the finish. You could almost whisk this out of barrel and drink this now, but preferably, give it 4-5 years in bottle. Drink 2019-2032. 91-93/100’. - Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

 

11 May 2016 - The wonderful wines of Francois Mitjavile

Francois Mitjavile is one of Bordeaux’s maverick winemakers. Stepping down into his dark cellar beneath Tertre Roteboeuf is always an education. He explained that 2015’s style was determined from as early as October 2014. A prolonged draught meant there was no blockage to maturation. The maturation process was very slow, resulting in wines rich in polyphenols, with a clear aromatic dynamic and ripe, fresh fruit. They are fabulous wines, packed with luxurious fruit, complex mineral notes, flowers and a real sense of tension. At this early stage, Roc de Cambes (£460/12) is more open and apparent, although the Tertre Roteboeuf (£1300/12), with some aeration begins to show its huge potential. Domaine de Cambes (£305/12) may be the most expensive straight ‘Bordeaux’ you are likely to see, but don’t let that put you off – it’s worth every penny. A recent tasting of the 2012 displayed how sumptuous and polished this wine is.

Continuing the decadent theme; Chateau Palmer has released its wonderful second wine, Alter Ego (£474/12). The dynamic team here is experimenting with reducing the levels of SO2 during winemaking as well as farming biodynamically. Huge effort is put into all aspects of viniculture and vinification and the results are quite stunning. James Suckling describes it as the ‘most serious Alter Ego ever’; we concur!

Also released today are: de Fieuzal (red £260/12 and white £310/12), du Tertre (£275/12) and La Lagune (£345/12).

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10 May 2016 - La Chenade and Saintayme

Denis Durantou has released his highly impressive Saintayme (£55/6) and La Chenade (£62.50/6). These are perennial favourites that offer outstanding quality and exceptional value. We are hard pushed to think of wines that give this much pleasure at these price-points. In fact, they get the ultimate endorsement – past vintages feature in nearly all the staff cellars… With 90-92 and 91-93 respectively, these are serious, high-quality, modern Clarets that can be opened and enjoyed almost immediately, or tucked away and forgotten about for 10+ years with confidence.

 

10 May 2016 - Malescot St Exupery and d'Armailhac

It feels like the campaign has finally started. Yesterday, Chateau Lafleur sold out in quick time. Hardly surprising given that it was one of our wines of the vintage and priced correctly against equivalent vintages. Beychevelle (£535/12) and Pape Clement (£625/12) were somewhat overlooked in all the excitement surrounding Lafleur. Both wines have been well received by the critics and are selling well in Bordeaux.

Today, we have a flurry of releases including the quite excellent Malescot St Exupery. It has been some time since the Margaux commune took the limelight; the 2015 vintage was worth the wait… Margaux, Palmer and Rauzan Segla take the podium places, but Brane Cantenac and Malescot lead the chasing pack. This is a grand scale wine with enormous potential, gorgeous, well-delineated flavours and a serious tannic structure. At £370 per dozen it is under half the price of the 2005 and is every bit as good!

‘The 2015 Malescot-St-Exupery has an intriguing and complex bouquet with oyster shells and seaweed infusing the intense black fruit. It is certainly well defined with nicely integrated new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, a keen thread of acidity, very pure and smooth in texture, gently unfolding towards the lightly spiced finish that lingers long in the mouth. This is a superb Margaux, surfeit with breeding and sophistication, though it will need 10-15 years in bottle. Drink 2025-2045. 93-95/100’. – Neal Martin, Wine Advocate

‘The beauty in the fruit here is so impressive. Full body, super fine tannins. It’s very racy and incredibly long. Sexy and rich finish. Better than the legendary 2009? A blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot. 97-98/100’. – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

We can also offer Chateau d’Armailhac from the Mouton Rothschild stable. Philippe Dhalluin and his team have produced a spellbinding range. This is the most decadent and sumptuous d’Armailhac we can recall tasting, packed with spiced plums and bright crimson fruit. It is harmonious and racy and will provide excellent drinking in the medium term. At £310 per dozen for a Pauillac Cru Classé from the Mouton wine-making team – what’s not to like?

 

09 May 2016 - 97-98 point Certan de May

Under the stewardship of Jean-Claude Berrouet, the winemaker at Petrus for over 40 years, Certan de May is beginning to realise its true potential. The exuberant style of the past has been tempered in recent vintages, and a real sense of classicism has emerged. 2015 is the first vintage that explodes with luxurious, heady fruits, yet displays a tension and structure of a grand Pomerol. It didn’t go unnoticed. James Suckling awarded the Certan de May `15 one of his highest scores of the vintage – 97-98/100!

“Wow. What a wine with incredible depth of fruit and generosity here. Walnut, chocolate, black olive and dark fruits. Full and rich. It goes on for minutes. Velvety texture. Best in decades. A majority of merlot with some cabernet franc and a touch of cabernet sauvignon”. James Suckling

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

09 May 2016 - 95-97 point Pape Clement Rouge

Pape Clement Rouge has released at £625 per dozen. Bernard Magrez’s flagship wine is always a little contentious. It appeared big and forced to us, although, the whole Pessac Leognan UGC was a slight let down, so perhaps it deserves the benefit of the doubt. A recent bottle the 2006 was remarkably good, so maybe there is something to this style of wine-making; the critics certainly think so!

“The 2015 Pape Clement is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. It was cropped at 40 hl/ha between 25 September and 15 October with berry by berry destemming. It has a drop-dead gorgeous bouquet that continues the ever greater finesse that has been imparted into this Pape-Clément in recent years. It is extremely precise, almost crystalline. The palate is underpinned by fine tannin, pitch-perfect acidity, a sense of cohesion and harmony that is outstanding. There is not a hair out of place on this barrel sample and it will doubtless evolve into one of the best wines this state has produced since the 14th century, when Bertrand de Goth was planting its first vines. This comes highly recommended - a Pape-Clément that will reward those who can resist temptation and cellar this wine for 10+ years. Tasted on four separate occasions. 95-97/100”. – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

“Shows amazing depth of fruit with fabulous polish and length. Electric acidity. Full body, very integrated and refined tannins. Phenolic finesse shows here. Great finish. It lasts for minutes. Best young Pape Clément I have tasted. Grows in the glass. 96-97/100”. – JamesSuckling.com

“Big, broad and overt in style, with a thick frame of espresso and roasted apple wood around a core of dense plum paste and cassis flavors. Strides along authoritatively, as melted licorice and fruitcake notes fill in on the hefty finish. Shows more style than terroir, but pulls it off. Score range: 93-96/100”. – James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

“The 2015 Pape Clément is stunningly beautiful. Rich, ample and powerful, the 2015 exudes richness. As always, Pape Clément is one of the most overt wines in Pessac, but the move towards picking a bit earlier gives the wine more energy than was the norm a decade ago without fundamentally altering the style Bernard Magrez and Michel Rolland favor. Dark red cherry, plum, menthol, licorice, blood orange and exotic spices are all very much alive. The purity of the fruit here is striking. This is one of the best recent vintages of Pape Clément I have tasted. The 2015 is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, done in about 80% new oak. Tasted four times. 93-96/100”. – Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com

93-95/100 - Wine Enthusiast

20/20 – Rene Gabriel

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

09 May 2016 - Chateau Lafleur, Pensees de Lafleur and Les Champs Libres

“It’s hard to describe perfection. It’s not just power and depth. It’s something mystical and ethereal. The wine just floats on your palate with incredible density yet precise. Taste it and you want it forever. So creamy and textured. Glorious. 100 points." – James Suckling

"Gorgeous elixir." – Jancis Robinson

Merlot is back in 2015. Baptiste Guinaudeau of Lafleur can never remember seeing such wonderful Merlot. That is not to say that the Cabernet Franc is anything less than spectacular; this varietal still expresses itself with complex aromas and brooding layers of minerals and starry fruit; it’s just that the Merlot offers something quite unique. It complements the Cabernet with an opulent core of fruit and a breath-taking, sumptuous texture. The combination makes this one of the most complete and engaging Lafleurs we have ever tasted. Baptiste describes it as having the concentration of the awesome 2009, but with more charm. We think it possesses the same decadent structure of 2009, but with brighter, more elevated fruit. 2015 will certainly rank amongst the most distinguished vintages of Lafleur. If the quality is not motivation enough (and it should be), the release price should make this utterly compelling. At £2250 per 6 bottles, this is a fraction of the price of similar great vintages, such as: 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 (all £3750-£6000 per 6).

The splendid Merlots also feature in their exquisite Pensées de Lafleur. This always hails from the same strip of land that possesses a different geological composition to the rest of the vineyard. There is less gravel and more clay, which make Pensées a more typical style of Pomerol. The 2015 is an extraordinarily fine example, full of early promise.

And finally to Les Champs Libres - the white wine of Lafleur if you like - although this is produced from the finest plots at sister property, Grand Village. The first two vintages were exclusively made from Sauvignon Blanc clones from the Loire, but as the name suggests, the team is not bound by regulations; their sole focus is to achieve the best wine humanly possible. In 2015 one plot of Semillon excelled - so much so that it couldn’t be ignored and forced its way into the blend. The wine retains its minerality, florality and vivacity one expects from the finest Sauvignon Blanc, but the Semillon lends a little texture and even more complexity. It is an astonishing and unique wine.

We are proud to be one of the Guinaudeau’s formal distributors. We admire their extraordinary attention to detail and their constant pursuit of quality. Their wines defy challenging vintages and truly excel in the best conditions. 2015 is clearly one of the very best!

Chateau Lafleur 2015
"The 2015 Lafleur is a blend of 51% Merlot and 49% Cabernet Franc picked 11-15 September and 1-2 October respectively. As usual, I waited for the Grand Vin to open in the glass, so I chewed the fat with Baptiste Guinaudeau before I started to tap away at the laptop. It unfurls beautifully delivering small red cherries, cranberry and Japanese nori aromas that gain intensity with every swirl. The palate is medium-bodied with full and rounded tannin, very complex with layers of cranberry and raspberry fruit, veins of white pepper and bay leaf, structured on the finish but not as foreboding as the leviathan 2010 Lafleur. It will still require ten years in bottle to reach its plateau, but it will be one of the standout wines of the vintage. 97-99/100." – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Pensees de Lafleur
"The 2015 Les Pensees de Lafleur is a blend of 54% Merlot, picked on September 21, and 46% Cabernet Franc that was picked on October 2. It has a broody bouquet with cranberry and raspberry coulis aromas, touches of dried herbs and brine developing with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with lightly spiced red berry fruit, vibrant in the mouth, very harmonious with superb precision on the finish. What a gorgeous deuxième vin from Baptiste Guinaudeau. 91-93/100." – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

Les Champs Libres
"The 2015 Les Champs Libres (from the Guinaudeau family at Château Lafleur in Pomerol) includes a little Semillon Blanc this year. It was picked between September 5-9. It has an attractive bouquet with lime cordial, dried pineapple and honeysuckle scents that are very well defined. The palate is fresh and crisp on the entry, vibrant and energetic, the 100% new oak barely noticeable. This is one of the less-known gems from the Guinaudeaus and it comes highly recommended. 91-93/100." – Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

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09 May 2016 - The best Beychevelle in years… possibly ever!

We have been underwhelmed by Beychevelle in recent years. This well placed St Julien has a strong reputation, particularly in Asia, but it has perhaps been guilty of basking in past glories. The 2015 is a resounding return to form and gets a big thumbs-up from the notoriously hard to please Justerinis’ team. There is nothing wish-washy about this Beychevelle; it is serious, concentrated and toned - a wine full of charm and grace that will reward the patient. And at £535 per dozen, it compares favourably with other great vintages: 2005 (860GBP/12), 2009 (740GBP/12) and 2010 (700GBP/12).

‘The 2015 Beychevelle was picked between 22 September and 8 October, a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot that will be matured in 50% new oak. It has quite a high IPT at 81, a pH of 3.72. It has a clean and crisp bouquet, tightly-wound at first, then unfurls with redcurrant, cranberry and raspberry scents, leaning towards the red spectrum rather than black. There is impressive delineation here, no frills, almost clinical in its "aromatic efficiency." The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. This is a suave Beychevelle in the making, harmonious in the mouth, supple even, gently building towards a lightly spiced finish. Among the Saint Julien wines, this is clearly one of the more understated 2015s. It is only when you swallow the wine that its lingering flavors remind you that this could evolve into one of Philippe Blanc's great Beychevelles. While it is not a headline-grabbing wine, a decade in bottle will be handsomely rewarded. Drink: 2025 - 2050. 92-94’. – Neal Martin, erobertparker.com

Please note that there is currently no stock available

 

04 May 2016 - Cantemerle 2015

This is a short week in France with Ascension Day tomorrow and then a customary ‘pont’ to le weekend… so we’re not expecting any big-guns to release; although to quote Inspector Jacques Clouseau ‘surprises are rarely unexpected’ especially when it comes to Bordeaux campaigns…

Cantemerle was our undisputed champion at the Haut Medoc UGC. This excellent 5th growth is situated just to the south of the Margaux appellation, so enjoyed the best of conditions in 2015. James Suckling is an enthusiastic 95-96 points on this. It really is a stunning and mightily impressive wine for the money. In fact, it wouldn’t look out of place amongst the glamourous Chateaux at the Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux UGCs. We were astonished by the concentration, pure floral infused fruit and sleek tannins – this is one to buy in bottles and magnums!

‘Wow. Real Cantemerle with stupendous power and depth. Mineral, stone and violet character. Full and structure. It starts slowly and then goes on for minutes. Perhaps best ever?’ – JamesSuckling.com

Elsewhere there have been lots of other good value releases.

From the JM Cazes stable we have Les Ormes de Pez. This excellent ‘mini Lynch’ offers great value for money at £215 per dozen. Also from St Estephe, we have Chateau Meyney (£200/12). The 2014 was one of our ‘top value’ picks and the 2015 is also a noble effort. Hubert de Bouard from Angelus consults here and it is good to see that this very smart terroir close to Montrose is beginning to fulfill its potential.

Cedric and Paul Valade have released their wonderful Grande Maye (£70/12) and Chateau Valade (£120/12). Both are terrific wines brimming with decadent fruit and are clearly built for the cellar. Staying in St Emilion, we can also offer Berliquet from Nicolas Thienpont at £255 per dozen. This cool limestone terroir between Canon and Magdelaine has excelled in 2015 producing a really fine, high toned example – it is the finest wine we can recall tasting from this estate.

The Picque Caillous (red and white) from Pauline Calvet and Denis Dubourdieu are on the market at £135/12 and £80/6 respectively. Both wines punched well above their weights at the Pessac Leognan UGC, flooring many of the grand names from the commune.

If rumours are to be believed, there will be lots of activity next week. So enjoy the weekend and brace yourself for the ride…