The annual 4 vintage Bordeaux wine tasting took place last week in London, however, the 2013 vintage had been dropped, so we were in for a treat, tasting 2014, 2015 and 2016.
This year 15 Chateau presented their wines, including for the first year, Chateau Montrose.
With the hype about the 2016 and 2015 vintages being so good and for those of us who cannot or do not attend the annual ‘en primeur’ tastings in Bordeaux, this was an excellent opportunity to taste, assess and hopefully agree with the wine media’s reports.
Most of the wines tasted were red, except for Chateau Guiraud, from Sauternes, which showed the 2016 Le G de Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux blanc sec, a 2014 Petit Guiraud Sauternes and then the 3 vintages of Guiraud 1er Grand Cru Classé, Sauternes.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte presented 3 vintages of their dry white wine from Pessac Leognan a 2014 Le Petit Haut Lafitte rouge and 3 vintages of their Grand Cru Classé Smith Haut Lafitte rouge.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte – Grand Cru Classé de Graves (Pessac-Leognan)
The 2016 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc had rich exotic fruit, with a slight sweetness, prominent well-balanced oak and a hint of fragrant spirit on the finish.
The 2015 wine was similar in style, not as full and rich, with more freshness and acidity.
Finally, the 2014 wine was much drier in style, leaner and tasted much more unripe, with a pithy grapefruit flavour and more noticeable acidity.
The Smith Haut Lafitte 2014 red wine had a muted fragrance, but on the palate, the fruit shone through, although lighter than I had anticipated. The tannins were firm and slightly outweighed the fruit.
The 2015 wine was, however, stunning, for the aroma I wrote ‘heavenly’, the fruit was beautifully fragrant and concentrated, on the palate, it was big and chewy, with beautifully balanced tannins and acidity, and with a creamy textured finish.
2016 Smith Haut Lafitte had a massive weight of concentrated fresh red berry fruit with a gentle violet aroma, the tannins are firm, but the fruit matches them and so it is well balanced. The finish was long and delicately oaky.
Chateau Gazin – Pomerol
I like Gazin, but I always find some vintages a little hard and the fruit green and unripe.
The 2014 wine had a nice plummy fruit with firm tannins and the alcohol seemed powerful.
The 2015 wine had more weight of fruit, the fruit was more aromatic, however, on the palate, it was green and unripe.
Finally the 2016 and with Pomerol being hailed as one of the standout communes, the Gazin really shone. The fruit was big and rich, full and not lean and although the tannins were still massive, the fruit this time stood up to it.
Chateau d’ Aiguilhe – Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux
A favourite wine of mine for many years and from the stable of Vignobles Comtes Von Neipperg, this, along with their other wines continue to blossom each year.
The 2016 wine was big, fat and very weighty with a good balance of tannins, as this is still so young, it possibly has not opened up, as much as the 15 and 14 vintages.
The 2015 wine was again, very rich and powerful, intense fragrant fruit, dense ripe fruit but in a nice way, and surprisingly light on the end palate.
The 2014 wine was fabulous, a vibrantly fresh and elegant blackberry fruit nose, quite chewy on the palate but with great acidity and tannins giving a long silky finish.
Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere – 1er Grand Cru Classé Saint-Emilion
The 2016 wine was big and quite beefy in style, a touch dusty and short on the finish, rich on the palate, but not very elegant.
The 2015 wine was a close run to the 2014 wine, it was rich and the aroma showed wonderful berry fruits with a hint of toastiness from the oak. The alcohol seemed very prominent, but the fruit weight and tannins were a worthy match.
2014 was magnificent (disappointed I didn’t personally buy this wine), very elegant and fragrant on the nose, the fruit was juicy and the tannins and oak perfectly balanced. The finish was soft and delicately oaky with a fresh crisp acidity lifting every flavour.
La Mondotte – 1er Grand Cru Classé Saint-Emilion
Another great wine from the Neipperg stable and a wine that is gaining in stature each year
The 2014 wine had beautiful vibrant berry freshness with a hint of oak, the wine on the palate was rich but with a hint of lean fruit, the tannins and acidity beautifully balanced and the finish was long.
2015 was even more intense, richer with big blackcurrant and cassis aromas and flavours. It had meatiness with big firm tannins on the finish.
The 2016 wine was on the day the star for me, perfumed fresh berry fruit with a hint of violets, on the palate the fruit was luscious with a hint of vanilla from the oak barrels and acidity with firm tannins showed this wine has a long way to go before being ready to drink.
Chateau Canon – 1er Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion
The 2014 wine was slightly muted on the nose and there was no big bold fruit. On the palate, it was slightly lean and green in style, but there is an underlying richness of fruit and firm tannins. This will be interesting to taste again in 12 months time.
The best wine of this trio is 2015, on the nose, the fruit is big and rich, with a slight parma violet fragrance, on the palate the fruit is big, rich and chewy with beautiful ripe berry fruit. The acidity and tannins are big, but the fruit is not overpowered at all.
The 2016 fruit was very open and fragrant, surprisingly gentle, on the palate, there is cassis fruit, which opens up and is quite ripe and fat, with prominent alcohol on the finish.
Chateau Rauzan-Segla – Grand Cru Classé Margaux
The 2014 wine had a relatively light fruit fragrance on the nose and although rich, it tasted quite light on the palate, however, this could have been a consequence of just tasting Canon 2016? The fruit and tannins were beautifully balanced.
The 2015 wine had a fresh delicate fruit fragrance and on the palate a redcurrant fruit with wonderful toasted notes from the oak. A lean finish but long with notes of violets.
The 2016 wine had a whacking great fragrance of rich fruit, berries, cassis, and flowers. On the palate, it was quite restrained, soft, delicate with well-integrated tannins and a long fruit finish.
Chateau Léoville Poyferre – Grand Cru Classé Saint Julien
Another Bordeaux Chateau producing elegant wines, at extremely good prices.
The 2014 wine has a berry compote fruit nose, big and fragrant, on the palate blackcurrant fruit with a real freshness and with medium to firm well-balanced tannins.
The 2015 wine, on the day my favourite, had a stunning ripe fruit nose, with a gentle hint of oak. On the palate, the fruit was full and fragrant, with a good balance of acidity, and tannins, very long on the finish, this wine is fabulous.
The 2016 wine is big, rich and fat, slightly tough to decipher at present as the alcohol was overpowering and tannins very firm and hard. It probably needs another year before it shows its true colours.
Chateau Pontet-Canet – Grand Cru Classé Pauillac
Using biodynamic production, the wines of Pontet-Canet, are powerful, rich, elegant and now regularly attaining very high scores from wine writers, placing it alongside the other great Pauillac wines.
The 2014 wine seemed to be slightly closed, the fruit aromas were not as powerful as usual, however, on the palate, the fruit was vibrant, stalky and with big firm tannins, which the fruit matched. The finish was lean but with a good balance of acidity to fruit and tannins.
The 2015 wine had aromas of crushed berries, ripe, fresh and aromatic. On the palate, the fruit was rich and delicious, chewy blackcurrant and a hint of liquorice, with a big long finish. One of the best wines of the day.
The 2016 wine is vibrant and the fruit perfumed, however not as big as the 2015 wine. On the palate, the fruit is big and rich, with really big tannins and a much harder finish.
Chateau Montrose – Grand Cru Classé Saint – Estèphe
A new and welcome addition to this Bordeaux tasting, Chateau Montrose has had massive investment and a programme of development, with very strict environmental objectives.
Having recently tasted a wonderful 1982 Montrose, this was a great opportunity to taste new vintages.
The 2014 wine had rich wonderful aromas of berry fruit, on the palate, very firm blackcurrant fruit and solid tannins with a balanced acidity. As the lighter vintage of the three wines, this was very impressive.
The 2015 wine had leaner hard fruit, big firm tannins, but the finish was very long and the fruit surprisingly elegant for such a big wine.
Finally, the 2016 wine was slightly muted on the nose and seemed closed up, possibly because it was so young? The fruit was rich, but not elegant with big, big tannins.
Chateau Guiraud – 1er Grand Cru Classé Sauternes
The Guiraud 2016 was very light, lacked weight and any real vibrant fruit, there were no signs of classic grapefruit flavours and sadly it disappointed.
I briefly tasted the 3 vintages of the Sauternes Grand Cru Classé at the end of the day, with my preference of 3 being 2014 as it had a little more freshness, with amazing fruit sweetness and weight.
As expected, a wonderful tasting of great wines. On the day my top wines from each Chateau varied from vintage to vintage with the 2015’s being the standout wines, the 2014’s proving to be a very good buy from some producers, and the 2016’s, a vintage to watch.
These days there is never a badly made wine, as techniques and skills in the cellar and careful handling of fruit, even from a vintage affected by the weather, will ensure the consumer gets a very drinkable wine. The vintages where weather conditions are almost perfect help to deliver a wine, which will potentially last for many years and because of the fruit quality, the wine will develop, change and mature giving, even more, pleasure and enjoyment for many more years. At this tasting the 2014’s looked good, however it would be interesting to repeat these three vintages in 10 years time?