2016 Bordeaux – My Days with the Big Guns – Chateau Margaux – Wine of the Vintage II

 

                           Chateau Margaux — the Appellation’s Wine of the Vintage

The day I would visit Chateau Margaux for my scheduled tasting of their 2016 during en primeur week – a week involving more than 400 samplings of 2016 Bordeaux – began bright and early with a formal, 9am (sharp) appointment at Chateau Lafite. Indeed, my day which included the unforgettable set of wines at Chateau Margaux (which I scored 97-99 points) – their Grand Vin very easily on par with Mouton Rothschild for Wine of the Vintage honors – included more riches than I can recall in a single day of tasting Bordeaux en primeur.

That brilliantly sunny day – impeccable, real “Chamber of Commerce” kind of day – witnessed yours truly at Chateau Palmer (which I scored 96-98 points), Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (another 96-98 pour moi) where the “sights” are as beautiful as the Chateau and the many wines offered for tasting, as well as Chateau Leoville Las Cases (yes, another 96-98 points), where it felt I was tasting perhaps the most glorious Las Cases in years.

All of this just one day after finishing up at Chateau Mouton Rothschild (98-100 for me), as well as the drop dead gorgeous Chateau Latour (97-99 points), which we won’t see for years – and years.

Yes, there were more than 100 additional 2016 Bordeaux across those two days – plus an addition couple dozen over dinners and lunch breaks.

But there can be no denying the amazing presence, the glamor, the sheer “gotta have it” of the 2016 Chateau Margaux.

2016 Perfection?

For me, unfortunately, memories will have to suffice, as allocations of Chateau Margaux are so drastically limited that only a few of you will enjoy the opportunity to purchase this gem – I’ll have to rely on the generosity of others.

 

 

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2016 Bordeaux – Multiple 100pt Chateau Pavie – Wine of the Vintage?

                                Chateau Pavie – Perfection in 2016 – Profound in Every Sense

My final full day of tasting 2016 Bordeaux during en primeur week culminated just at it should have, two hours at Chateau Pavie.

Approaching the Pavie hills – their historic coteaux rising steeply behind the white-washed stone Chateau – the sky a deep blue, not a cloud to be witnessed, a sense of something very special came over me.

I’d heard from other professionals during the week that the subtle changes at Pavie had returned the most profound wine; not just that Pavie had ever bottled, but quite possibly of the 2016 vintage. As I made my way up the majestic, “Gone with the Wind” staircase to the open air tasting room, you could have heard a pin drop.

Though many were in attendance, there was a reverence in that space that day.

This was my 8th version of Pavie. This was the first time I have ever been so moved.

To say the Pavie terroir spoke through the wine is the understatement of the vintage. There has never been such a profound Pavie.

Wine of the vintage? Certainly better than a few of the Premier Crus.

Unquestionably among the top 3 of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage.

2016 Bordeaux – Thoughts On A Selectively Superb Vintage

                  One Of The Top Three Wines Of The Vintage For 2016 Bordeaux

 

Having recently returned from 8 grueling days in Bordeaux, tasting the 2016 Bordeaux during en primeur week – most days beginning at 7am, ending after even the pigeons had gone to sleep, usually close to 11pm – I can personally attest that the name of the game this year is “selectivity.”

Two thousand sixteen is NOT an across the board, knock it out the park home-run vintage.

Peaks and valleys – extreme highs, pitiful lows – exist practically everywhere when discussing 2016 Bordeaux.

The top producers – Premier Cru estates – performed very well, generally speaking. Pavie outdid themselves.

But as I made my way through some of the finest wines, tasting approximately 400 samples at various locations to include top negociants, the finest Chateaux, multiple UGC events (some visibly under-attended), certain aspects of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage became clear.

This was a vintage that challenged winemakers; many spoke of their fears – a repeat of 2013, troubles with mildew, uncontrolled yields – while others rightfully proclaimed they had made their finest wines ever.

I’ve tasted in Bordeaux for many years, and I concur with the assessment shared by Justine Tesseron at Pontet Canet when asked which vintage 2016 most closely resembles.

She looked me dead in the eye and said,

“2016; there’s never been anything else to compare.”

Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes 2010 – Giving d’Yquem a Run for the Money

Quietly Famous Barrel Room at Sigalas Rabaud

Quietly Famous Barrel Room at Sigalas Rabaud

If Sigalas Rabaud is off your radar – even you die-hard Sauternes fans – it’s not a total surprise. With only 35 acres under vine, it ranks as the smallest of all the vineyards in Sauternes. Moreover, it has changed ownership so many times, it’s been difficult over the decades to discern the estate’s actual name at any time in history.

The current, hyphenated name reflects the original owners; the Rabaud family who were in charge in the 1600s, and the Sigalas family, who took over in the mid-1800s.

The final formation, which is recognized as Sigalas Rabaud today – land holdings, special hillside plantings – le bijou de Sigalas (“the jewel of Sigalas”) – and the rest, changed hands (with name variations ensuing) in 1903, 1929, and the ’40s.

By the 1970s, Cordier – an established Bordeaux corporation – became interested, and by the early ’90s they owned a substantial stake.

And that’s when things took a major turn for the better. The Wine Advocate’s Sauternes critic, Neal Martin – decades of experience under his belt with the subject – began to report on the goings on Chez Sigalas Rabaud.

With reviews in the mid to upper nineties, and prose to the effect of “Though Sigalas-Rabaud 2010 was extremely promising out-of-barrel, I never expected that it would trump d’Yquem in a blind tasting once in bottle”, suddenly the little estate on the hill became the cult secret of the appellation.

2010 Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes

“Though Sigalas-Rabaud 2010 was extremely promising out-of-barrel, I never expected that it would trump d’Yquem in a blind tasting once in bottle. It has an engaging, pure and lifted bouquet with scents of lemon curd, honey, ripe oranges and quince that are extremely well-defined. The palate is well-defined with a fine line of acidity, crisp mineralite and tension. This is very composed and tightly wound, a Sauternes probably built for Sigalas Rabaud btlthe long-term and not giving too much away now. Yet the class is already tangible. This is one of the best wines from the estate in recent years. Drink now-2030+.”

95 points – Wine Advocate (NM)

One worth the effort to secure, costing a fraction of its famous neighbor’s bottlings…

From the Cellar – 2005 Palmer, A Towering Wine Begins to Shine

chateau-palmer

Been away from posting awhile, took a new position with B-21 in Florida as of late December and have been flat out swamped since day one…

Among my ever expanding duties: authoring the multitude of weekly email offers. Side benefit: content for the blog!

Here’s one I really liked – the piece AND the wine…

My annual en premier jaunts through Bordeaux for the past several years include appointments with practically every name in the book. From the moment my team and I disembark and hit the ground – usually beginning with our friends on the Left bank – we are absorbed, inundated and, quite frankly overwhelmed with the sheer volume of wines to be sampled. Included with “the good stuff” during en premier week are all those Petit Chateaux and Cru Bourgeois wines, too. Not to mention the Right Bank: where dozens and dozens of outstanding St Emilion and Pomerol bottlings await us. But through it all –Lafite, Latour, Haut Brion, Petrus, Pavie, Ausone – there is one which I look forward to more than all of the others. The opportunity to taste Palmer – especially from a great vintage – truly captivates me. That’s how it was in the Spring of 2010 (when I tasted the ’09). And that’s how it was in the Spring of 2006, when I tasted what was – for me – one of the most profound Palmer’s of the past 30 years. Tasting the 2005 today, and remembering it as it was back then, is spine tingling. If you’re into this kind of stuff – or ready to be – this is a MUST HAVE!

 “This spectacular offering should continue to improve, and may merit an even higher score after additional aging. Stunningly rich and powerful…Aromas of incense, burning embers, black currants, plums, licorice, and flowers…more weight and power even than its nearby first-growth rival, Chateau Margaux….exceptional fruit extract…so concentrated…” 97 Robert Parker

Interested in picking up a few bottles?

Buy Palmer Now