Bordeaux 2016: Smith Haut Lafitte and Pichon Baron

Bordeaux 2016: Smith Haut Lafitte and Pichon Baron
We are big admirers of Daniel and Florence Cathiard’s superb Smith Haut Lafitte and AXA Millésimes’ flagship Pichon Baron. Both have a unique signature style. Smith Haut Lafitte is the most glossy and opulent of all the great Pessac Leognan wines. It is a decadent expression that never fails to charm. The 2016 is absolutely spectacular, and ranks alongside the magnificent 2009, 2010 and 2015 as one of the finest wines ever produced at this chateau. The 2016 Pichon Baron is typically broad and generous. This wine has a superb track record over the past fifteen years, always showing better from bottle, especially at the Southwold blind tastings. We expect the 2016 to follow this tradition and rival the top wines of the vintage.

‘The 2016 Pichon-Longueville Baron is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot picked between 3 and 18 October at 39 hectoliters per hectare for estate (therefore the Grand Vin will be less). It is matured in 80% new oak and 20% one year old for 18 months. It has a very intense, extremely pure bouquet with blackberry, bilberry, cedar and graphite notes; it is a straight-down-the-fairway Pauillac. The palate is medium-bodied with a very tensile opening, that seam of graphite penetrating the black fruit. There is a wonderful structure here, unapologetically classic in style with just the right amount of austerity on the aristocratic finish. The aftertaste is incredibly long, lingering after two or three minutes in the mouth. This is a majestic Pichon-Baron and it may well to surpass both the 2009 or 2010. Drink 2026 - 2060. 96-98/100’. - Neal Martin, robertparker.com

`The 2016 Smith-Haut-Lafitte is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot that was picked between 29 September and 19 October at 35 hectoliters per hectare. It is being matured in 60% new oak for a total of 18 months. "We have never been so proud of our Cabernet Sauvignon," winemaker Fabien Tietgen told me. Now, this has a much subtler bouquet than recent vintages, you could argue, more intellectual than the 2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte. First there are aromas of blackberry, briary and just a hint of iodine, then underneath that, marine-like aromas such as freshly shucked oyster shells, pressed flowers and a touch of brown spice. There is wonderful delineation here. The palate is medium-bodied with plenty of tightly-wound black fruit, intermingling with smoke, black pepper, spice box and a touch of bay leaf. This is an extremely precise Smith-Haut-Lafitte, certainly a cerebral 2016 that might well be approachable young, yet will certainly age in consummate style. The château's own tasting note reads "What more could one possibly want from a wine?" The answer to that is: "Another bottle." Drink 2023-2050. 96-98/100’. - Neal Martin, robertparker.com