Bordeaux 2016: Beychevelle, Langoa Barton, La Croix de Beaucaillou and Sociando Mallet

Bordeaux 2016: Beychevelle, Langoa Barton, La Croix de Beaucaillou and Sociando Mallet
That’s right, the 2016 Beychevelle surpasses all previous vintages. Neal Martin’s 96-98 point score puts this year’s Beychevelle amongst some pretty lofty company. We are really impressed with what Romain Ducolomb is achieving in their new state of the art winery. The 2015 was sensational. The 2016 is perhaps a little less opulent, but it is incredibly focussed, tight-knit, and surprisingly serious for Beychevelle.

‘The 2016 Beychevelle is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc cropped at 45 hectoliters per hectare between 3 October and 18 October. It is matured in 50% new oak. Furthermore, it is the first vintage to be matured in the new chichi winery whose glass exterior overlooks the passing traffic on the D2. It has a very pure, fragrant bouquet with black cherries, cassis, cedar and wet limestone, extremely precise to the point where you might think it was from the Right Bank (logical given the proportion of Merlot in the blend). The palate is sensational: understated at first and bridled with ultra-fine tannin, it is a Beychevelle armed with a disarming sense of symmetry. It builds in the mouth towards a fabulously tensile finish that is so fresh and full of energy that the senses are almost overwhelmed. Frankly, it leaves all the other Beychevelles in recent years standing. This is an electrifying 2016 from winemaker Philippe Blanc and his right-hand man, technical director, Romain Ducolomb. Drink 2026 - 2060. 96-98/100’. – Neal Martin,

A brace of other St Juliens: Croix de Beaucaillou and Langoa Barton have also released. Both are dark, brooding, intense offerings, which will require patience. Their 2015 counterparts were two of the most exuberant examples from this popular appellation; the 2016s are by contrast deep, profound examples – rarely have we seen such a stark stylistic differences between vintages, but both are equally good!

Sociando Mallet is another powerful example from the northern Medoc. Jean Gautreau’s exceptional estate on the banks of the Gironde has produced a spectacular 2016. This is a large-scale, highbrow Sociando with a strong Cabernet character of black hedgerow fruit and pure cassis. If you are looking for something for the cellar, which won’t break the bank, this is worth close inspection - a superb effort.

‘The 2016 Sociando-Mallet has a refulgent purple/black color. It has a very intense and rich, you might say "ambitious" bouquet with layers of small black cherries, blueberry and a touch of sloes, less tertiary than previous vintages and certainly more opulent. The palate is medium-bodied with juicy ripe tannin that almost disguise the firm structure underneath. I admire the completeness of this Sociando-Mallet, the neatly embroidered new oak and the freshness on the finish. The 2015 Sociando-Mallet did not fire on all cylinders last year, but this 2016 is totally convincing. It comes highly recommended as one of the best wines produced at this estate in the northern Médoc. This is an outstanding wine from Mon. Gautreau. Drink 2022 – 2045. 92-94/100’. – Neal Martin,