Posts with the label "pichon lalande"


Southwold: 2015 Bordeaux under the microscope

Southwold: 2015 Bordeaux under the microscope

Friday 8th February 2019
by Tom Jenkins

It’s over thirty years since a group of pioneering British merchants first met in the small, seaside town of Southwold to assess a young Bordeaux vintage under blind tasting conditions. 

Luminaries such as the late John Avery and Bill Blatch, along with the likes of Clive Coates MW and our very own Hew Blair, were amongst the first tasters. Although the venue has changed, the name remains, as does the spirit and professionalism. The results are eagerly anticipated by Bordeaux Chateaux; this is the ultimate litmus test, affirmation of years of hard work or hard truths.

Now, here comes the caveat: this is perhaps not the most flattering time to taste these wines. In fact, in my experience it is one of the worst… Although barrel samples can be variable, there is an undeniable freshness and purity of fruit. Just after bottling, they are equally flattering, a year and a half after bottling, they are usually less gratifying. 2009 is a notable exception – these have always been gloriously easy to taste. The 2015s attracted comparisons to 2009 from barrel; however, on this showing, they are less flamboyant and more structured. There are very many notable successes, but it is by no means as uniform or as easy to taste as those spectacular 2009s.

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2016 - Day three: The Mighty Medoc

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2016 - Day three: The Mighty Medoc

Friday 28th April 2017
by Tom Jenkins

Starting at Chateau Lafite at 9am set the bar pretty high. The Duhart Milon was superb, pure Cabernet class, even the Carruades was spectacular, dense and concentrated, and then we got to the grand vin, an ethereal, subtly perfumed, glorious Lafite; athletic, graceful, powerful and handsome. There’s absolutely no doubt that this is a top notch Lafite and one of the wines of the vintage. 

Next stop Mouton Rothschild and an equally impressive range, but stylistically quite different. By comparison, the Mouton stable was all primal power and complexity. The d’Armailhac is fun and filled with fruit, the Clerc Milon is a big step up in quality, the fruit is much more profound and the tannins are very classy. Petit Mouton is big and brooding and the grand vin is a wine of epic proportions. As with all great Moutons, this is slow to reveal itself, it is deeply introverted, but with time and coaxing it starts to reveal the power of this terroir. This has serious length, and while at this stage it doesn’t quite have the grace of the Lafite, we believe this is a seriously impressive Mouton that will continue to grow in stature – mighty impressive.

Vintage Report: Bordeaux 2016 - Back to the future

Vintage Report: Bordeaux 2016 - Back to the future

Thursday 13th April 2017
by Tom Jenkins

Tasting back to back vintages like 2015 and 2016 is fascinating. These are both exceptional years, although polar opposite in style. It is perhaps hard to be as loquacious about the 2016s as we were about the sumptuous 2015s. 

This is in no way a barometer for the vintage – 2016 is certainly as good as 2015, probably better, but the wines are generally less expressive and generous at this early stage. The 2015s were a sheer joy to taste - 2016s are more cerebral, introverted, structured, serious and profound. In most cases, and particularly on the Left Bank, there is a reserve and classicism that makes one think of ancient vintages with huge tannic profiles and long-term aging potential. Certainly, the best Chateaux have flexed their technical know-how and have produced wines with stunning purity of fruit and precision, but there’s no getting away from the fact that 2016s are real vins de garde.

The extraordinary growing season and Mother Nature have combined to produce something remarkable. There are many contributing factors to the success. After the early season deluge the drought and heat of July and August were welcomed by all. Old vines and soils with some clay component were best placed to benefit from the conditions. Critically, during harvest, there were dramatic day/night temperature differences. This helped the grapes to mature, but retain acidity, and also kept alcohol levels exceptionally low, a key feature of 2016s.

Bordeaux 2016: Northern Lights

Bordeaux 2016: Northern Lights

Wednesday 15th February 2017
by Tom Jenkins

Journalists like to pigeonhole vintages. It supposedly makes life easy for consumers. Condense the wines of Bordeaux down into a brief soundbite, a paragraph that tells you all you need to know about this wonderful region. 

In 2015 it was a ‘Right Bank, Pessac and Margaux’ year. Read into this what you will – but what is not said often resonates the loudest. Most interpreted this as ‘don’t go near the northern Medoc’. The truth is rarely so simple…

Last week, our reconnaissance team spent three fascinating days tasting and re-tasting what is already being referred to as a sanctified trilogy: 2014, 2015 and 2016. Let’s start with the 2014s. This is a vintage that really appeals to our palates – a combination of modern winemaking and classic flavours, a vintage of balance and precision with more than enough power and concentration. It will of course remain in the shadow of 2015 and 2016, but these wines will make you smile and if you bought them en primeur, you should be well pleased.

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2015 - Day three,  It’s grim up north… far from it!

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2015 - Day three, It’s grim up north… far from it!

Friday 8th April 2016
by Tom Jenkins

We started up north with a St Estephe trio: Calon Segur, Montrose and Cos d’Estournel. 

Now much has already been said about the weekend of the Medoc marathon – some vignerons in these parts are blaming the runners for the rain. It happened, there’s no point in denial, about 120 mm fell on the Northern Medoc over the weekend of the 12th and 13th of September. It changed the profile of the vintage in St Estephe, but it most certainly didn’t ruin the quality. These wines are all highly successful, elegant wines, which perhaps lack a little of the exuberance and opulence other communes displayed, but they should by no means be dismissed, they are classical, beautifully structured and most alluring. 

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