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Buying En Primeur:
Buying En Primeur is the method of buying wines before they are released on the market, when the wine is still ageing in barrel. Normally the wines are bottled and released 18 months after harvest.
The benefits of buying En Primeur are:
Tasting notes: Jancis Robinson (JR), Robert Parker / Wine Advocate (WA), James Suckling (JS) and Wine Spectator (WS) are indicated on the following pages.
Shipping Cost: HK$180 per case. Wines will be shipped either by Air or temperature control sea freight.
Price: Please note that the following wines are offered ex- Bordeaux. There is a minimum order of 1 case of 12 bottles (750ml). All price listed below are for regular bottle of 750ml. If you want a special format such as half bottles, magnums or any other larger format please inform us in advance.
When do you get the wine?
Usually the wine will be in our Hong Kong warehouse in spring or summer two years after the offer. You will be notified of their arrival and delivery made thereafter.
If you are interested in the wine listed below please contact one of our wine consultants:
Godwin Chan at tel. 2926 2269 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Ivy Tsang at 2926 2179 / email@example.com
Latest price list available here (Updated in May 19th)
|Left Bank||Right Bank|
- Saint Emilion
The 2015 Siran is a blend of 55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petit Verdot picked between 17 September to 12 October. It is raised in 25% new oak plus one-year barrels. It is a little richer and more opulent than its neighbor, the 2015 Dauzac, due to the higher proportion of Merlot. It veers to more red fruit here, wild strawberry and later cassis. The palate is smooth and sensual on the entry, very well defined with a keen thread of acidity. It grips the mouth, implying that there is more Cabernet than there actually is. I like the volume here, and unlike previous vintages that seemed to show some warmth on the finish, here the finish is much more linear and controlled, fanning out gracefully but with power emanating from that Merlot. This is likely to be proprietor Edouard Miailhe's best wine in recent years.
"This really is fantastic with so much ripe fruit and ripe tannins. Exquisite purity and beauty. 55% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon and 7% petit verdot." - James Suckling
Supple and lush, offering enticing black currant and plum purée notes carried by warm, caressing tannins, with a lingering backdrop of espresso and roasted cedar.—J.M.
The 2015 Alter Ego de Palmer is a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 52% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. It has a very open, ravishing, quite precocious bouquet with ripe black cherries, fresh dates and crème de cassis that gain intensity in the glass. The palate is more refined, reins it all back in thanks to quite tensile tannin, a crisp line of acidity, moderate depth in the mouth and a gentle grip. There is a touch of tarriness and cracked black pepper towards the finish with very good length. Give this 5-7 years in bottle.
52% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, picked 22 September to 7 October. Very rich on the nose. Very sweet and with sufficient freshness. Very very round. Just on the right side of soupy - but you really have to drink this pretty young, I think.
The 2015 Boyd-Cantenac has plenty of ripe blackcurrant, bilberry and wild strawberry fruit on what feels quite a lavish and voluminous nose that is determined to make an impression. The palate is medium-bodied with juicy ripe tannin. This is a Margaux with the dials turned up to ten - a huge overarching structure lacquered with black fruit, supported by some quality new oak that lends it sheen. It is a powerful Margaux that deserves a decade in bottle, not a wine of finesse but it has the substance to reward long-term bottle age.
"Full and structured with chewy tannins. Plenty of earth and sweet tobacco character. Medium center palate. Should develop nicely." - James Suckling
The 2015 Brane-Cantenac is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenère that was picked from 17 September until 7 October (that Carmenère was actually picked on 19 October). It was cropped at 51 hl/ha. This is classic Brane-Cantenac down the line: austere at first, almost aloof, but very well defined and over time it starts revealing lovely tobacco-stained black fruit. The palate is very well balanced with raspberry and wild strawberry on the entry, perhaps more red fruit than I was anticipating. Veins of undergrowth and cedar are in situ on this very well-balanced, reserved and classic Margaux boasting a long and persistent finish that feels satisfying, reassuring even. Not a Margaux for those that seek tons of fruit, it is nonetheless a very terroir-expressive wine that will repay those who know that this cru demands preferably 12-15 years in the cellar. Henri Lurton never wavers from his style of Margaux and it pays dividends here on this great wine for those with patience.
This has a mix of enticing dark plum and blueberry fruit woven with a solid graphite note and carrying through an alder-edged finish. Has the vintage’s velvety feel, but a little extra cut.—J.M.
Exceptionally deep crimson. Meat and wild flowers on the nose - very interesting. Definitely out of the ordinary. Left-field wine that should not disappoint. Racy and lifted. Really very elegant. Chapeau!
The 2015 Cantenac Brown follows their excellent 2014 with another great Margaux. Here, a nuanced nose that does not come racing from the blocks, but keep your nose in the glass and it reveals detailed blackberry, cranberry and strawberry aromas that are neatly embroidered with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, quite tensile tannin. There is breeding interwoven into this Margaux, palpable sophistication, and it finishes with panache, fanning out with lightly spiced red and black fruit. It is not the most ostentatious Margaux in what is a fecund season for the appéllation, but I suspect it will surprise a few wine-lovers as its ages.
"Very structured and muscular with black currant, chewy tannins and a flavorful finish. Full body. Yet polished and intriguing." - James Suckling
Very fresh, with well-defined red currant and raspberry coulis flavors that stream through, enhanced by a violet note on the mineral-edged finish.—J.M.
Bright crimson. Very competent representative of the vintage with marked ripeness on the nose but then rather chunky and bitter on the finish - like Oxford marmalade. Not much lift. A tad stodgy.
The 2015 Château d'Issan is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot cropped at 40 hl/ha, representing 55% of the production. Emmanuel Cruse told me how they suffered less rain on the weekend of 12 and 13 September, 32 millimeters being less than in the northern Médoc. Cropped between 21 September and 6 October, it has a very pure and sensual bouquet that takes time to open up, eventually offering black cherries and blueberry, a marine influence tucked in just behind (a common thread throughout various vintages of d'Issan). The palate is underpinned by extraordinarily fine tannin that gently caress the mouth. The 55% new oak is beautifully embroidered throughout this wine from start to finish, which displays energy, real frisson in the mouth. This may well turn out to be one of the greatest Château d'Issan made in the modern era. Tasted twice with consistent notes.
"This is solid and muscular Issan with round and powerful tannins. Full and long. Impressively structured." - James Suckling
Focused, with a twinge of singed alder and cedar up front giving this a slightly old-school feel, followed by a good core of steeped plum and black currant fruit. Picks up a bit of the vintage’s velvety edge on the finish, though the cedar note lingers as well.—J.M.
Only medium crimson. Only medium intensity of aroma but lots of vivacity underneath. Very 'new-fashioned', as the Joanne brothers put it. Racy and full of real charm and energy. Lots behind this. This builds towards the end in a way that good burgundy does. Chapeau!
The 2015 Dauzac is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot, the highest percentage of the former in recent years, and matured in 60% new oak barrels. It has a tightly wound but precise bouquet with scents of blackberry cassis and a hint of violet - very polished and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, pure black fruit laced with graphite and spice, gently building in the mouth, finishing with a precise and quite sustained, Pauillac-inspired grace. This is an excellent wine from the estate that will give 20-25 years of drinking pleasure.
"This is tight and structured with beautiful blackberry and blueberry character. Full and intense. Very long and attractive. Energetic. Superb." - James Suckling
Dense and for the moment less expressive than many a Margaux. Sweet start but without absolute density on the mid palate. Competent rather than exciting.
After a so-so 2014, the excellent 2015 Château Desmirail makes amends. It comes with a very comely, feminine and perfumed nose brandishing a whole bunch of rose petals in the glass. The palate is very well balanced, fleshy but still structured with fine grain tannin. It feels a little oaky towards the finish, but that should be subsumed with 4-5 years in bottle. One to check out after 3-4 years when it has found its groove.
A lovely beam of crushed plum and blackberry fruit is carried by velvety tannins, ending with a warm ganache note on the finish.—J.M.
Very dark crimson. Slight edge of Marmite/yeast extract. Then very sweet, gentle and Margauxish on the palate. Firm and impressive.
The 2015 du Tertre is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% each of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, picked 9 September until 9 October, matured in around 47% new oak. The nose is impressive, more so than the 2014 twelve months ago with tightly-wound but very focused raspberry, cranberry and iodine aromas that gently unfurl with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with good structure, impressive depth, a du Tertre with more substance and body than recent vintages. There is precision with satisfying length on the cedar and pencil lead finish. Alexandre Van Beek might have produced his best du Tertre to date.
"A wine with definition and refinement. Hints of tobacco and chocolate. Full body, super fine and flavorful. Juicy and savory. The walnut and spice on the end is gorgeous." - James Suckling
Offers a velvety feel overall, with steeped plum and currant notes layered with accents of black tea and ganache, Shows a racy tobacco edge underneath.—J.M.
Dark crimson. A meaty note to this charmer. Lots of freshness too. A fairly early developer with masses of sweetness but a good herald of the vintage. Perhaps not the great concentration of tannins for a long life.
The 2015 Durfort Vivens has a predictably leafier and more herbaceous bouquet than its Margaux peers, though not unattractive with a slight steely edge. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm, grainy tannin in the mouth. I appreciate the balance here and compared to recent vintages, there is clearly more fruit concentration on the finish, a pleasant salinity on the aftertaste. For those that prefer a leaner style of Claret, this comes recommended, and as I have seen in the past, it tends to put on weight by the time it is in bottle.
Very dark. Lifted, very wild sort of nose with lots going on there. Round and mentholated. Interesting wine!
The 2015 Ferriere is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. It has a pure and well-defined bouquet with gorgeous red cherry and wild strawberry scents infused with minerals. The palate is well balanced with supple tannin, layers of slightly toasty red berry fruit with admirable depth on the finish. There is a bit of gumption and conviction about this Ferrière, and it should age with confidence once in bottle.
"A muscular and toned red with slightly tough tannins but the underlying blue fruit and minerality to the wine give it excitement." - James Suckling
Juicy, with a packed core of boysenberry and black currant flavors, backed by light licorice and alder hints. Shows good cut throughout.—J.M.
Very dark. Deep and brooding. A bit more severe than most Margaux. A bit chunky and savoury.
The 2015 Giscours is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. That is in stark comparison to older vintages, for example the 2000 Giscours that was 50/50 Cabernet and Merlot. This vintage is matured in 50% new oak. Winemaker Alexandre Van Beek told me that the 2015 "...reflects the true terroir at Giscours that created the great wines of the 1960s and 1970s." That is something to live up to with fresh memories of the 1961 in my brain. The bouquet is very intense and almost "untamed" at first, but it calms down in the glass, revealing attractive scents of blackberry, raspberry, cedar and graphite. This is a Giscours determined to make a good impression...and it does. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very pure, a little spicier than recent vintages, adorned with a gentle crescendo in the mouth towards a really quite fantastic, tensile, complex and compelling finish. Having tasted the 1961 and 1970 Giscours just a few months ago, I wager that the 2015 will be the best since the 1961. Time to fall back in love with this great Margaux property.
"This sets a new level for Giscours with blackberry, black truffle and blackberry. So much walnut and cedar. Full body, dense and incredibly long and powerful. Clearly the best Giscour since 1970 and 1975.." - James Suckling
Solid, with warm plum, fig and blackberry reduction notes, inlaid with a lovely alder accent. Flows beautifully through the long, velvety finish.—J.M.
Dark crimson. Relatively light nose. Very luscious sweet fruit on the palate - a very winning wine with a medium charge of tannin. Just a little inky on the finish. But good and appetising.
The 2015 Kirwan has a very opulent, heady bouquet that perhaps has its foot pressed down a little too hard on the accelerator? It just feels a little ostentatious compared directly with its peers. The palate goes some way to restore order with small dark cherries, taut and quite firm tannin with a very citrus-fresh finish. It is a Margaux that seems to be on full glare at the moment - I hope that during élevage the contrast is toned down, so that there is more balance and a sense of terroir can come through, because this estate can produce great wines.
"So much character here of wet earth, mushroom and black currants. Full and powerful. Chewy tannins yet polished and very fine. Focused intense." - James Suckling
Fresh, with a light iron frame around the red currant and damson plum fruit. Pretty lilac details chime in on the cedar-edged finish.—J.M.
Very dark crimson. Haunting aroma - very smooth yet concentrated. Very impressive! Much more freshness than of old. The Boissenot touch?
The 2015 Lascombes has a dense, rich bouquet with licorice and cigar box-infused black fruit and a touch of wilted violet. It feels rather tight-fisted compared to its peers in the Margaux appéllation. The palate is very smooth on the entry, plenty of new oak here, balanced but for want of a better word, missing some personality - especially on the finish that feels just a little labored.
"This is so powerful and rich with fantastic depth of fruit and tannin structure. Full body, chewy yet polished in impressive. Stretches the limit on tannin extraction but it's all there. Should develop beautifully in the barrel." - James Suckling
A frankly fruit-driven style, but delicious, with exuberant plum and blackberry paste flavors leading the way, backed by a melted licorice note. The velvety finish has good underlying acidity.—J.M.
Dark purple. A little bit of wood shavings on the nose of this, as in the second wine. Very sweet palate entry without quite the energy of some of the most successful Margaux but it is certainly dramatic. Some will love its full-on impact. Tastes a bit alcoholic.
The 2015 Malescot-St-Exupery has an intriguing and complex bouquet with oyster shells and seaweed infusing the intense black fruit. It is certainly well defined with nicely integrated new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, a keen thread of acidity, very pure and smooth in texture, gently unfolding towards the lightly spiced finish that lingers long in the mouth. This is a superb Margaux, surfeit with breeding and sophistication, though it will need 10-15 years in bottle.
"The beauty in the fruit here is so impressive. Full body, super fine tannins. It's very racy and incredibly long. Sexy and rich finish. Better than the legendary 2009? A blend of 70% cabernet savignon, 30% merlot" - James Suckling
Very lush and warm, with delicious plum and boysenberry fruit flowing easily over the well-integrated structure. Generous in feel, offering a lingering black tea note. Very suave.—J.M.
Particularly glowing crimson. Light nose with some wildness about it. A hint of something animal! Distinctive wine that is a bit more daring than the average Margaux. Not the most tannic but very nicely balanced.
The 2015 Château Margaux is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, all together representing 35% of the total production at the estate. Raised entirely in new oak, it has a lucid garnet color. The bouquet is aimed directly at the senses - there is no dilly-dallying about, as it almost knocks you off your stool with its intense mineralité embroidered into this iridescent, graphite-tinged nose. The focus and penetration here ranks among the finest that I have tasted at this estate since first coming here in 1997. The palate is astonishingly well balanced, perfectly poised with super-fine tannins wrapped around pure blackberry, bilberry, graphite and cedar fruit. Like the Pavillon Rouge this year, there is a Pauillac-like sense of authority and aristocracy, leavened by Margaux-inspired femininity that completes that standout 2015 on the Left Bank. Beg for a bottle and worry about the cost later. Post script: I composed this tasting note five days before the passing of Paul Pontallier. It is a final gift from a gifted winemaker.
"The greatest Margaux ever made. More than perfection. Full body, firm and ultra-silky tannins. Black currant, mineral and floral character. It starts slowly and seems almost endless on the palate. Seamless. I want to sing! This is the wine that Margaux n
87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. 13.5% - record alcohol for the grand vin. Great breadth and savour on the nose. Lovely freshness and sophistication. Lots of fine tannins. Very aérien. Really flies! Perfect Margaux. A great welcome for the new chai and memorial for Paul Pontallier. Still tight but nothing out of balance. Very Margaux. Very classic claret. Quite brave because there is nothing showy about this wine, but it could truly be described as beautiful.
The 2015 Marquis d'Alesme Becker is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc that was cropped at 35 hl/ha between 28 September and 15 October. Matured in 65% new oak, it has a precocious bouquet with opulent violet-tinged cassis fruit that needs to find a little more delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannin, plenty of depth with a crisp line of acidity, with impressive density on the finish that would be enhanced with more precision.
"A polished and balanced Marquis with blackberry, black currant and tar aromas and flavors. Full body, bright finish." - James Suckling
Dark and winey, with ample blueberry and kirsch fruit giving this a frankly modern feel. Shows excellent energy throughout, revealing a licorice snap edge on the finish and admirable depth and length. This will have a lot of fans when bottled.—J.M.
Dark purplish crimson. Headily floral on the nose. Quite lifted with notes that remind me of wasabi! A very interesting wine that is more transparent than most.
The 2015 Marquis-de-Terme has a clean and precise bouquet with ebullient blackberry and raspberry fruit, quite a strong marine influence developing in the glass with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, judiciously integrated oak and a focused, cedar-tinged finish that has a nod to Pauillac. This is a very fine Margaux that should age well over the next 15-20 years.
"Greatest Marquis de Terme ever made. Full body, chewy tannins and rich fruit. Yet shows tension and form. Super quality. Best ever." - James Suckling
Lush and suave, with dark fig and blackberry fruit that has melded beautifully with dark tea and light charcoal notes. Offers a warm, velvety finish.—J.M.
Purplish crimson. Perfumed, almost boudoir on the nose. Lively with a slightly feral note and marked acidity on the end.
The 2015 Palmer is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot matured into up to 70% new oak. The official start of the picking was 22 September, finishing on the 7 October with the Petit Verdot and the Cabernet Sauvignon. This has a wonderful bouquet with layers of dark cherry, boysenberry, a faint hint of dark chocolate and minerals. There is superb delineation here. The palate is medium-bodied, but this constitutes a decidedly more structured Palmer than I have encountered in recent years, perhaps a little more masculine due to the slightly higher Cabernet content. This is a classic Palmer made by winemaker Thomas Duroux, symmetrical in some way, poised and effortless on the finish. Those who like the more showy Palmer might not warm to this 2015, but this has real class and sophistication, a Palmer that will repay those with the nous to cellar it for 10-15 years. Expect it to reside at the top of my banded score.
"A wine with incredible character and style with black ink and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, extremely fresh and structured with riffing tannins. It is muscular and powerful. White pepper, sea salt, mineral, stone character. A wine built for th
44% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. Picked 22 September to 7 October. A really massive step above Alter Ego on the nose. Really fresh and polished. Lovely bramble fruit. Not that dense but really complete and beautifully balanced. Silky tannins. Real drive and lift towards the end. Very Margaux. 14.1%
The 2015 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, which represents just 23% of the total production this year, has a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than other years, 74%, with 21% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It has a very refined bouquet, focused and extraordinarily pure with blackcurrant, blueberry and minerals. The 50% new oak is beautifully integrated here. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, a little more masculine than I was expecting, a Pavillon with firm structure imparted by that higher proportion of Cabernet. But the freshness is ample and there is a long, satisfying graphite note that seems to last forever on the finish. What a great deuxième vin, a stunning Pavillon Rouge.
74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot. Big change in the blend - far more Cabernet than there used to be. Very beautifully integrated on the nose. Still quite structured on the palate. Quite ambitious. This really is the sort of wine that would have been Ch Margaux in the 1980s. Excellent freshness and length. Not at all like a second wine. Great lift towards the end. 14%
"This is very chewy and rich with lots of ripe tannins and intense flavors. Medium long finish. Should develop beautifully." - James Suckling
The 2015 Prieuré-Lichine has a tightly wound bouquet, crisp and a little leaner than some of its Margaux compadres. It just feels contained at the moment. The palate is medium-bodied with gruff tannin on the entry. There is respectable depth here, but it feels linear and rather predictable towards the blackberry and cedar finish. I would like to see more complexity and personality come through by the time of bottling. It feels a bit bolshie at the moment.
"This is really exceptional this year. Full body, very velvety tannins, wet earth, mushroom and currant character. Very stoney. Very long and flavor. Greatest wine in the history of the estate." - James Suckling
Lovely dark currant and plum reduction notes are carried by velvety tannins, with a light charcoal shading on the finish. Suave.—J.M.
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Bright crimson. Particularly refreshing. Well balanced and lively. Very juicy and energetic. Great balance. Lovely persistence.
The 2015 Rauzan Gassies...having visited the property last year, I was yearning to like this Margaux, but contrasted against its peers, it clearly falls short in terms of fruit concentration on the lean and leafy nose. The palate is better with more weight and body than recent vintages, dried herbs and spice on the entry, dark berry fruit tinged with cola and a healthy pinch of white pepper on the finish. If the aromatics can raise their game and meet the quality of the palate, then this will be a fine Margaux. Let's see what happens during its barrel maturation.
Much darker than this wine usually is. A light note of almost-green vegetation. Appetising. Lighter than most. Just a little tart on the end without the concentration of the best.
The 2015 Rauzan-Segla is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc cropped at 40 hl/ha between 10 September with the young Merlot vines and finishing with the Cabernet Sauvignon, which was picked between 22 September and 9 October. It is matured in 65% new oak for around 18 months. It has a very intense, almost crystalline bouquet with blackberry, briary, flint and just a touch of violet petal. There is incredible delineation here and the new wood is seamlessly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with extremely fine tannin, perfectly judged acidity, otherworldly purity and a mineralité rarely seen in this Margaux estate. This is a brilliant Rauzan-Ségla, not necessarily more powerful than previous vintages, though enhanced by its precision, frisson and energy, perhaps longer on the finish. Winemaker Nicolas Audebert has conspired with the benevolent growing season to produce a benchmark wine for the estate.
"This is so sexy with superbly polished tannins that gives the wine super length and definition. Compacted and tight. Full body, tight yet flamboyant at the same time. Loving it." - James Suckling
Juicy and bright, with lots of energy to the red currant and plum fruit, laced with savory, iron and black tea notes. A velvety edge pulls the finish together. Shows good character, with less reliance on flashy oak.—J.M.
Very dark. This is turbo Margaux! By which I don’t mean that it's forced but it has extraordinary concentration and impact. Very much set for the long term. Juicy and chock full of fruit that almost disguises the tannin. Amazing persistence.
The 2015 Peyrabon has a perfumed bouquet driven by the 51% Merlot, crushed strawberry and redcurrant aromas neatly entwined with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit, a fine line of acidity, good density towards the finish that delivers an attractive spiced aftertaste. This is very fine and should drink well for a decade.
The 2015 Belgrave has a vivacious bouquet with cedar and cigar box-infused black fruit that really leaps from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, plenty of blackberry and crushed strawberry fruit with fine mineralité coming through on the finish. This is a very fine 2015 from this Haut-Médoc estate.
"Chewy and powerful with loads of ripe fruit, walnut and roasted coffee bean. Full body. Muscular." - James Suckling
Plump and soft-edged, with cherry and blackberry notes lined with light cedar and tobacco hints.—J.M.
Very very intense dark crimson. Very fresh and vital. Clearly lots of work has gone into the Dourthe flagship. Smooth as satin but with good dry vitality. Really racy.
"A 2015 with ripe and beautiful fruit and velvety tannins. Full body. Juicy fruit. Goes on for minutes. Extremely impressive." - James Suckling
Healthy dark crimson. Rather subtle and appealing. Gentle and fresh. Not for the long term but a very friendly emissary of the vintage.
The 2015 Cantemerle is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. It offers plenty of blackberry and raspberry fruit on the nose, not the best defined that I encountered among the Haut-Médocs, but with plenty of "stuffing." The palate is medium-bodied with supple red and black fruit on the entry matched with a fine thread of acidity. There is a pleasing crescendo in the mouth driven by that Merlot content and it finishes with some swagger. This is a very fine Cantemerle exuding joie-de-vivre that I can see doling out plenty of drinking pleasure over the next decade and beyond. Tasted thrice with consistent notes.
"Wow. Real Cantermerle with stupendous power and depth. Mineral, stone and violet character. Full and structure. It starts slowly and then goes on for minutes. Perhaps best ever?" - James Suckling
Fresh, with a good sanguine note weaving around red currant and bitter cherry flavors. There's a stony echo developing on the finish.—J.M.
Deep crimson. Brimming with fruit on the nose but there is rather less on the palate. At most medium weight with some oak in evidence but a pretty Cantemerle with good ripe fruit.
The 2015 La Lagune has a rich and slightly heady bouquet with lavish black cherry and cassis fruit that need to obtain more definition and composure. This seems to be trying a little hard. The palate is ripe and rounded on the entry, the tannin here a little stringy with a straightforward, slightly attenuated and saline finish that I hope will flesh out during élevage. This just lacks the sparkle that I discerned in the 2014 last year - let's see how it turns out in bottle.
"The finesse and beauty in this wine is really something with blueberry, blackberry and licorice character. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a long and gorgeous finish. Tactile and fine." - James Suckling
Unusually deep crimson. Really very luscious on the nose - a full, broad exposition of the vintage on the nose. Heady without being gratuitously sweet. Juicy and lively. Some rigour on the finish as though efforts were consciously made to imbue classic st
The 2015 La Tour Carnet is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit was cooled through a "cryogenic tunnel freezer," essentially spraying liquid nitrogen, and will be matured for 16 months in 30% new oak. It has a very pure bouquet, so much so that there is something almost Pinot Noir-like here, with ebullient Morello and subtle kirsch-like scents. The oak is judicious and neatly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin. This is very smooth and harmonious in the mouth, well-judged acidity, precise and detailed. It gently fans out on the finish, completing what I think is a very well-crafted, silky and seductive Haut-Médoc.
"A fresh and clean wine with blueberry and light spice, mushroom character. Full, very fine. Shows a delicacy and finesse." - James Suckling
Deep crimson and glowing. Quite fresh and strict on the nose. Good vitality. Just a little tart at the moment but it should mature into something vital and refreshing. Certainly not overdone.
The 2015 Sociando Mallet is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc this year. It has a rather introspective bouquet, broody and earthy, although with aeration it reveals pleasant blackberry and wild strawberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with chewy tannin, a little rustic and brutish at the moment with an abrasive finish that will hopefully soften by the time it is in bottle. I feel that this was just upended by the storms that swept across the region in September.
"A balanced and harmonious barrel sample with subtle yet firm tannin structure and a long and delicious finish. Should improve nicely with barrel aging." - James Suckling
Glowing crimson. Ripe and exuberant on the nose. Round and fresh - very like a St-Estèphe in build with its sucky-stony character on the end. Fully ripe and very refreshing. Very vigorous.
The 2015 Potensac is a blend of 45% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Cabernet Franc that was cropped at 50 hl/ha, and raised in one-third new oak. There is a sense of airiness on the nose: small dark cherries, crème de cassis and crushed strawberry, pretty and nicely focused. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, fresh and citrus in style, just a touch of reduction towards the finish, but they will blow off by the time it is in bottle. I would have just preferred more persistence on the finish, but otherwise this is a decent Potensac.
An austere style, offering a frame of warm stone around the core of currant and bitter cherry flavors, with tangy minerality through the finish. Perhaps not as broad as some of its peers, but with good cut, drive and focus.—J.M.
38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc (old vines). One-third new oak. Savoury and polished. Lots of personality. Quite marked acidity on the end - too concentrated perhaps? 13.32%
The 2015 Batailley is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot cropped at 48 hl/ha picked between 17-30 September. Matured in around 55-60% new oak, it has a very focused, intense bouquet with blackberry, raspberry, cedar and mineral notes, perhaps a little Margaux-like in style as those violets blossom with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, well-judged acidity, a touch of white pepper here lending edginess, gradually building to a very composed and structured finish. This is an excellent Batailley, meliorated by the introduction of a second wine, that continues the upswing in quality over the last six or seven years. I would not be surprised if this settles at the top of my banded score once in bottle.
"Wow. The shows a new level of excellence with mint, mineral and currant character. Full body, super fine tannins and a savory finish. New definition here. Precision. New second wine from this estate moved up the quality." - James Suckling
This has nice energy, with a brambly frame around the notes of cherry paste and currant preserves. There's a solid bolt of iron through the finish, with lots of tobacco. A touch old-school and solidly done.—J.M.
48 hl/ha. Very dark crimson. Attractive fresh minerality. Many steps up from Lions de Batailley. Racy and quite muscular. Not very intense but well balanced and with sufficient energy.
The 2015 Carruades de Lafite is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc. This has a satisfying purity on the nose: blackberry and briary, a distant, cold slate-like note just underneath, with the new oak (close to 20%) neatly subsumed. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. There is moderate depth to this slightly foursquare and conservative Carruades, but there is also plenty of freshness and it has an appealing, unassuming finish that is both harmonious and precise. Probably one of the most approachable deuxième vins, afford this 2-3 years in bottle before broaching.
57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. Relatively light crimson. Light, rather timid nose. Drying tannins on the end. Very pretty and polite but not at all dramatic!
The 2015 Clerc Milon is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 1% each of Petit Verdot and Carmenère, raised in 55% new oak. It has a highly perfumed bouquet with scents of small black cherries, graphite, touches of incense and wilted violets. This is a very extravagant bouquet for Clerc-Milon that wants to make an early impression. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, more expressive and delineated than the 2015 d'Armailhac, the finish beautifully focused with that graphite seam coming through on the sustained finish. This is potentially an outstanding Clerc-Milon, though it will need a decade in bottle to show its true potential.
"This is super fine textured with ultra-polished tannins. Full body, blackberry, blueberry and dark chocolate. Long and refined." - James Suckling
Offers a rounded, juicy feel, with cherry and black currant fruit moving along, backed by sweet tobacco notes and a flicker of anise. Pure and fresh.—J.M.
51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenère. Picked 17 Sep - 6 Oct. Rather broader and riper than Armailhac, presumably thanks to the lower Cabernet quotient. But still very fresh, almost inky. Dry finish. 'New fashioned.' Super-appetising. Very long.
The 2015 Croizet Bages has a rather withdrawn bouquet with tertiary red berry fruit that needs more vigor and delineation. It feels foursquare compared to its peers. The palate is medium-bodied with better weight and fruit concentration than I expected. The oak is neatly integrated and there is an attractive spicy edge on the finish. This Croizet-Bages finishes much better than it starts - let's hope those aromatics can pull their socks up during élevage.
Sweet and round and just a little simple on the end. Chewy. But nothing to object to.
The 2015 Château d'Armailhac is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, marking a slightly higher percentage of Merlot this year. Picking began on September 16 and finished October 5 - one of the longest harvest periods for this estate, according to Philippe Dhalluin. It has a very intense bouquet with layers of small dark cherries and cassis, the oak prominent, though the final blend will contain proportionally less. The palate is very concentrated and quite showy, as d'Armailhac has a proclivity of being at this early juncture. The acidity here is nicely judged with just a touch of graphite coming through on the finish. This is a satisfactory d'Armailhac, but there was a nagging feeling that this is one wine from the Mouton Rothschild stable that left me wanting more. Perhaps that will develop during its barrel maturation?
"A refined and pretty red with plum, blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors. Full to medium body, fine tannins. Exuberant." - James Suckling
This has good density midpalate, with red currant and plum fruit. Keeps a slightly racy edge overall, with a lightly chalky frame giving way to iron through the finish.—J.M.
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Particularly bright crimson. Savoury, lively nose. Drier and lighter than most but racy and satisfying in the new style. Good freshness and breadth. Really very polished.
The 2015 Duhart Milon is a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot picked between September 23 and October 6, the September 17-23 respectively. It will eventually see 40% new oak during its élevage. It has a tightly-wound bouquet with blackberry, bilberry and cassis fruit, moderate complexity, perhaps just a little static at the moment. The palate is medium-bodied with quite supple tannin for the normally obdurate Duhart-Milon, the acidity nicely judged with a pleasing salinity towards the finish. I would just like to see more personality come through by the time of bottling. Otherwise, this is a fine Duhart-Milon that is more compromising than the tannic "beasts" of yesteryear, and it should drink after 5-7 years in bottle.
A firm and silky red with blackberry and chocolate character. Hints of walnut. Full and chewy. Fresh finish." - James Suckling
73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot. Picked 28 September to 6 October. Light and mild-mannered on the nose. Sweet palate that could do with a little more freshness. Very dry finish. So unassuming it's rather underwhelming. Full marks for texture but flavour is a bit dull.
The 2015 Echo de Lynch Bages is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Merlot, matured in one-year-old barrels. It has a fragrant, finely tuned bouquet of blackberry, pencil lead and a touch of citrus fruit - scents that gently unfold in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, the acidity well judged, gentle in the mouth, but building in fruit intensity to a pleasurable graphite-tinged finish. One of those deuxième vins where more is less. This is a well-crafted Echo...echo...echo...
Lively, with a fresh savory edge to the mix of red currant, blood orange and cherry notes, backed by a smooth, relatively open finish.—J.M.
66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot. Dark bright crimson. Scented and light weight but lively and very fresh. Just a bit dry and demanding. Very much a second wine… Pretty classic Pauillac - but no attempt at flattery. 13.3%
The 2015 Grand-Puy-Ducasse has a classic pencil lead and cedar-scented bouquet that feels just a little foursquare at the moment. The palate is medium-bodied with a dash of spice on the entry. This is underpinned by quite robust tannin, but fortunately this Pauillac forages finesse towards the finish that is well balanced and offers attractive persistence. While not as showy out of barrel, I suspect it may coalesce and turn into one of the better wines from this estate in recent years. My banded score based upon that optimism.
This has a frankly toast frame around a solid core of plum and blackberry fruit. A toasty edge keeps the finish clamped down, but the stuffing is there.—J.M.
Very dark crimson. Made by Hubert de Boüard for Crédit Agricole. Sweet and luscious. Racy and round. Difficult to find the tannins. Very sweet indeed. Different from the usual Pauillac. Early drinking?
The 2015 Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, matured in 75% new oak and was picked between September 18 until October 4 (although the "real" picking commenced from September 21). Now, Grand-Puy-Lacoste is often quite "aloof" at this early juncture, but that is not the case with the 2015. This is more approachable aromatically, beautifully defined, thanks to that expressive Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin and finely tuned acidity (pH 3.68). Beguilingly harmonious in the mouth, it boasts a silky smooth texture with wonderful salinity on the aftertaste that is sustained in the mouth. As usual, Xavier Borie has produced a "classic" Pauillac, but one that is a little more appeasing to those that don't want to cellar for 20-30 years. You could describe the 2015 as being between 2009 and 2010...and that, folks, is not a bad place to be.
"This is very fine and elegant GPL with black currant and hints of walnuts, chocolate. Full body, sweet and pretty tannins. Persistent. So polished." - James Suckling
Pure, sleek and minerally today, with chalk and iron driving the core of red currant and damson plum fruit. The fruit is steadily emerging, and the length is there. Textbook Pauillac.—J.M.
74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Mid crimson. Relatively voluptuous for a 2015 Pauillac on the nose then racy and sucky-stony on the palate. Very Pauillac. Great energy.
The 2015 Haut Bages Liberal is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot that is matured in 40% new French oak over a 16-month period. It has a slightly chalky bouquet, tight-knit and conservative, but that is the usual style of this Pauillac cru en barriques. The palate is medium-bodied with solid tannin. This is an edgy Pauillac that is nicely focused, although I would have liked to have seen more substance towards the finish to balance the slightly obdurate tannins. This was one Pauillac cru that feels challenged by the September storms.
This has solid grip, with dark currant and blackberry fruit backed by lots of tobacco and bramble hints. Turns a touch taut in the end, but there’s good energy here.—J.M.
Bright crimson. Hint of wood shavings on the nose and then rather aggressively sweet, gamey palate. Very chunky and unintegrated at the moment. Really quite awkward.
The 2015 Haut Batailley is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot, matured in 60% new oak. It was picked between 21 September until 2 Octobe
"Racy and balanced red with black currant, plum and berry aromas and flavors. Full body, soft and silky tannins, Elegant." - James Suckling
This has a rather streamlined feel, with notes of red currant preserves, violet and iron all in lock step from start to finish. Shows nice purity.—J.M.
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot. 49 hl/ha. Bright limpid crimson. Quite tense and exciting spiciness on the nose. Rich and ripe. Quite forward but good savoury undertow. Lots of energy. Dry but not drying end. A good effort! Nothing forced.
The 2015 Lafite-Rothschild is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot picked between 17 September and 6 October. Matured in 100% new oak, it has a tightly-wound bouquet with black cherries, cassis, cedar and graphite, though it does not quite possess the depth one would have expected the vintage would have bestowed. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, harmonious on the entry and with the oak neatly integrated. There is a very fine grip towards the finish, which has a tangible spicy edge - white pepper with a touch of bay leaf and enough pencil lead to fill a stationery set. The aftertaste is extremely long here, more than a minute when I timed it on my watch. It is an excellent Lafite-Rothschild in the making and it often "finds its voice" only after bottling, so it could ultimately end with a higher score.
"Here is a Lafite with lots of muscle and tone. Very tannic and velvety textured.. Full body, fresh acidity and a bright finish. Shows a tenderness at the end. Gorgeous." - James Suckling
91% Cabernet Sauvignon picked 23 September to 6 October; 9% Merlot picked 17-23 September. Lustrous mid crimson. Lightly spicy nose and very smooth tannins in the Lafite style. Only just enough acidity. Blurry impression. Mild and charming - very restrained and Lafite. It builds on the end in an impressive manner.
The 2015 Latour is a blend of 97.1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.6% Merlot (just one historical vat courtesy of old vines interpolated with the Cabernet) and 0.3% Petit Verdot. It represents 30% of the production and is matured in 100% new oak as usual. It has a very complex, nuanced bouquet that needs 10-15 minutes to open. It blossoms with blackberry, briary, hoisin and slate notes, but it remains very focused and linear. The palate is extremely well balanced with fine grain tannin. For certain, this is an intense Latour with a strong and tangible undertow of mineralité. This is classic Latour: aristocratic, aloof at first, perhaps enigmatic compared to other vintages. I wonder if this has something hiding up its sleeve for after bottling?
Very dark crimson. Scented and quite heady. Lively and muscular. Racy and really pacy. Not a charmer though. Very introvert. Bone-dry finish. A bit more tingle and life than in earlier vintages, though 2014 was probably the turning-point vintage for Latour. Hélène says the wine is more closed today than usual.
The 2015 Le Petit Mouton is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, matured in 40% new oak and the remainder one-year-old. It has a very intense bouquet for this deuxième vin, a far cry from the rustic wines produced in the 1990s. It is almost opaque, a wall of blackberry, cassis and tobacco aromas, perhaps the most powerful that I have ever tasted under this label. Over ten minutes, I noticed it become more sensual and rounded. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, like the aromatics, incredibly powerful and assertive. Wonderful delineation here, very mineral-driven with a bravura of a finish. It begged the question...is this really a second wine? Maybe they should rename it "Le Grand Mouton"? It is amazing to think how humdrum vintages of this were in the 1990s. This is a completely different wine to those.
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 29% of the crop. Lively aromatic wine. Pretty sinewy and vigorous with real ripe fruit but overall dry on the end. A little austere at this point. But in the middle there is palate weight.
They 2015 Lynch Bages is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot that was picked from 23 September until 2 October, matured in 75% new oak. There is an overwhelming sense of purity on the nose: perfumed, almost floral blackberry, wild strawberry, graphite and cedar scents, unmistakably Pauillac in style. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, a keen citrus thread that impart tension and ample freshness. Tasting this as the first wine of the day, it instantly refreshes the mouth and leaves it tingling with energy after it has departed. This is an excellent, top-grade Lynch Bages that deserves 8-10 years in bottle and then will offer three decade of pleasure, maybe more.
"Very classic style Lynch with pretty ripe fruit and tannin balanced. Full body, firm and shew tannins yet polished and refined. Alcohol and fruit balance are lower than other top years and give this wine freshness and energy." - James Suckling
This is packed with juicy currant, black cherry and blackberry fruit carried by warm stone and graphite notes. Offers lovely sweet spice hints through the finish, which is fleshy and integrated. Really sappy and intense, yet the smooth structure lets it a
Two thirds of the crop. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Much deeper crimson. Minerals and spice - a very winning combo - on the nose. But bone dry on the end after some pretty dry tannins. Very solid but needs time. Drier than many vintages. Still pretty tight.
The 2015 Lynch Moussas is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot cropped at 44 hl/ha between 17 September and 1 October. It has a very controlled bouquet at first with tightly wound raspberry and wild strawberry fruit, the oak nicely integrated and some lovely undergrowth aromas surfacing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, the acidity well judged, leading to a spice-tinged finish that lingers long in the mouth. It is a very fine follow-up to the 2014 last year, with a freshness and class that I did not find conveyed ten years ago.
"Extremely well done for the vintage in Pauillac with attractive dried flower, currant and light stone character. Medium to full body. Fine tannins." - James Suckling
Direct, with a good beam of cherry, currant and iron that has integrated well already. Shows solid flesh through the finish, with a good tug of earth at the end.—J.M.
Very bright crimson. Quite gamey on the nose but with good fruit and tannin. Solid effort even if a little stolid. Not quite as good as I remember the 2005!
The 2015 Mouton-Rothschild is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc matured entirely in new oak, as usual. This represents a relatively high percentage of Merlot simply because, as winemaker Philippe Dhalluin told me, that quality was so good. I afforded my sample four to five minutes to open as it was a little reduced at first, but eventually it reveals a gorgeous, extraordinarily intense bouquet of blackberry, cassis, incense and cold slate aromas. In some ways it reminds me of Latour as much as Mouton Rothschild. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin, perfectly pitched acidity, wonderful tension and impressive length. There is a strong graphite theme running through from start to finish that is little grainy and so it will require preferably a decade in cellar. But what freshness and panache here, a classic Mouton-Rothschild that will live for 50 or 60 years, not a million miles away from say, the 1986 or 2010. Expect this to settle at the top of my banded score once in bottle.
"Very racy and refined with super polished tannins and focused dark fruits. Blackberry, orange peel, and black currants. Full. Very long and through provoking. A wine that delivers power and finesse. Juicy and fresh." - James Suckling
82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 57% of the crop.Very majestic nose. Obviously first-growth quality. Savoury and plush in terms of texture. Restrained without being a wimp. Lovely scent. Dry finish but with some of Mouton's opulence before then. Very fine. Very exciting. Some saline sap as well as all the ripe fruit.
The 2015 Pagodes de Cos is a blend of 46.2% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot that will be matured in 30% new barrels. It has a generous bouquet of earthy, sous-bois-tinged black fruit, delineated if not as intense as the 2014 I recall from 12 months ago. The palate is medium-bodied and shows a little more sophisticated than the aromatics, principally because of the appealing fineness of the tannin and how well the oak is enmeshed into the fruit. That lends it a smooth and silky texture, and I suggest that after 2-3 years in bottle, this should drink nicely for up to another decade.
The 2015 Château Pédesclaux is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot, incidentally the first time that the latter has been used in the blend. It was picked form 18 September with the young Merlot and finished 26 October with the Cabernet Sauvignon at 50 hl/ha. It has a very pure bouquet with iodine-tinged blueberry and blackberry fruit, graceful and harmonious. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, precise in the mouth with perhaps the best tension that I have discerned in this rejuvenated Pauillac - one where a pretty penny has been spent, I might add. Granted, it is not a Pédesclaux with profound depth and I was anticipating greater "volume." That said, it is nicely proportioned and sure to age well, continuing the vigorous upward curve of this estate. One to watch.
Bright crimson. A little raw on the nose. Quite notable acid and tannin without being fully integrated. Bit tough.
The 2015 Pichon Baron is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot picked between 18 September until 9 October. Apparently Christian Seely made use of four additional 80-hectolitre wooden vats that augmented his stainless steel vessels. It has a very pure bouquet with lifted blackcurrant, blueberry and graphite aromas, beautifully delineated, the oak seamlessly embroidered with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. This is disarmingly and utterly harmonious with a startling mineral core. Possibly the most sensual Pichon Baron that I have tasted at this nascent juncture, it gently unfolds in the mouth and leaves with an enormously persistent finish that leaves the senses tingling. If you want to know whether this 2015 is up there with the 2009 or 2010, the answer is unquestionably yes.
"Very solid and muscular Pichon Baron with ripe and velvety tannins. Full and very rich with balance of ripe fruit that deliver blackberry, walnut and spice. Warm and ripe yet finishes cool and sassy." - James Suckling
Really packed, with very energetic blackberry, black currant and plum fruit, pushed by anise and sweet spice and rumbling through the broad, iron-edged finish. Shows lots of heft, but the impression is fresh, and this is built for the long haul. Impressiv
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot. Dark crimson. Much less immediately attractive on the nose than Pichon Lalande. But with real tension and follow through on the palate. Very Pauillac indeed! Muscular.
The 2015 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot that was picked from 10 September with the young Merlot, finishing on 9 October. It includes 12.5% vin de presse (which incidentally was included in the blend). It has a very pure bouquet with expressive Merlot imparting black cherries and wild strawberry aromas that are embroidered with a thread of graphite. I noticed how it errs more towards black fruit with extended aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin on the entry, the Cabernet Sauvignon here in the driving seat despite that level of Merlot trying to get in a look. Together they give a sense of completeness to this Pichon Lalande that has semblances towards the great 1996. Whereas this Pauillac has a tendency to be more approachable than others, in fact, the 2015 has the backbone and substance to suggest that it will require a minimum of ten years' ageing, but patience will be amply rewarded. Nicolas Glumineau has overseen a quite brilliant Pichon Lalande here.
"This is absolutely beautiful with super tannin quality that gives you the most silky texture. Precise. It goes for minutes. Full and concentrated yet all in balance." - James Suckling
This has excellent energy, featuring voluptuous blackberry and black currant fruit lined with cassis bush, bay leaf, wet stone and iron notes, with sweet tobacco filling in the background. The finish is broad and long, with a nice graphite edge. This is P
68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 1% Petit Verdot. Very sweet and round and velvety. Lots to treasure here. Especially for those in a hurry! Ripe and rich. Lip smacking. But to be avoided by those who like their Pauillacs to have a hint of austerity, 13.6%
The 2015 Pontet Canet was tasted on two occasions around two weeks apart and I noticed a superior showing the second time around. This year is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot that was picked from 18 September apropos the Merlot and from 28 September for the Cabernet, finishing on 3 October. It is matured in 50% new oak, 35% concrete and 15% one-year-old barrels. It has a pure and perfumed bouquet with small dark cherries, red plum and subtle violet scents, perhaps a little Margaux-like in style, the second showing demonstrating a little more red fruit character. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly grainy texture on the entry. There is nicely judged acidity here, moderate depth, very supple tannin that lend this a silky texture. There is modest weight towards the second half, perhaps spicier than some of its Pauillac peers with an edgy, lightly peppered finish. It is an intriguing and complex, almost mercurial Pontet-Canet, a wine that I suspect will gain more weight during its élevage. Afford this 5-8 years in bottle and you should have a delicious, intellectual Pontet-Canet on your hands.
"This is very fine and silky with a beautiful vivid blackberry and blueberry character. Super polished tannins. Refined and very, very long. Fabulous harmony to this young wine. Very classic Bordeaux. Superb depth and length. Real Bordeaux." - James Suckl
0% new oak. 35% amphora. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3%Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Picked relatively early, 18 September to 3 October, because they ripen earlier.
The 2015 Domaine de Chevalier is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot picked from 23 September until 15 October at just 35 hl/ha, matured in 35% new oak. It has a sophisticated bouquet that is more reserved than its peers. It possesses one of the most precise, detailed aromatic profiles that I have encountered from this estate, wonderfully poised with black fruit, incense and cold stone. It has wonderful focus and class. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, very complex with lightly peppered black fruit. What marks this Domaine de Chevalier is the reserve and precision on the finish, a wine that is holding something back for its secondary evolution, a salinity that beckons you back for another sip. What a fabulous, intellectual wine from Olivier Bernard. Expect four decades of drinking pleasure - probably more - given my experience of ancient vintages. Tasted three times with consistent notes.
"Incredible depth of fruit and density. Full and powerful with so much fruit and richness yet remains fresh and clean. Purity. Massive yet vibrant and electric. Minerality length. Love the to taste this." - James Suckling
Smoky, stony nose - obviously 'serious'. Very distinctive. Very mineral. Bone dry. Juicy. An absolutely model dry-white-bordeaux-style wine. Oakiness not an issue. All vineyard.
The 2015 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, which is matured in around 40% new oak, has a refined bouquet with gooseberry, lime, almond and grapefruit aromas, the oak neatly interwoven, gradually unfolding in the glass yet remaining focused. The palate has an almost flinty opening, very edgy but not shrill, a tensile and linear Domaine de Chevalier Blanc that is driven by the acidity, touches of crustacea coming through on the energetic finish. There is a twist of sour lemon and chalk popping up on the aftertaste. This is a great, intellectual, comparatively more reserved white from Olivier Bernard.
"This shows class and finesse with ultra-fine tannins and succulent fruit. Full body yet elegant and long. Gorgeous wine. Such length. Vibrant and focused." - James Suckling
Offers an open, easy feel. The creamy structure lets juicy plum and raspberry notes flow along and linger on the finish. Almost languid in character, and very suave.—J.M.
Great tension and subtlety. Extremely savoury - almost salty - with freshness and ripeness. Not one of the deepest colours. Lovely appetising low-key classicism. Bravissimo à tous!
The 2015 Haut Bailly is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot (Véronique Sanders told me that the latter was planted three years ago.) My sample included 80% new oak, but there will be 50% in the final blend. Deep in color, the bouquet is very intense with multilayered blackberry, blueberry, crème de cassis and subtle black olive aromas, introverted at first but soon racing out of the blocks with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe, quite firm tannin. This is an Haut-Bailly with real backbone, real sense of purpose. It could have tipped over into being overpowering due to that intense Merlot, but the acidity keeps everything in check and the finish demonstrates wonderful tension. In particular, the aftertaste is incredibly long in the mouth. This Haut Bailly is up there with the 2009 and 2010 - a bravura Pessac-Léognan destined for long-term ageing. Do yourself (and the wine) a favor and cellar it for 12 years, drinking the 2012 or 2013 before reaching for this.
"This is a vivid and powerful red with lots of bright fruit and spice character. Full body, chewy tannins and loads of fruit on the finish. Firm and focused tannins. Lots of energy and vibrance. Spice and violet leaf undertone. Pure fruit. Pure structure." - James Suckling
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. Very dark, luscious colour - one of the most distinctive colours of all! Savoury and not forced but awfully attractive. Round and fresh. Very nicely assembled. Definitely Graves. Long and very 'cashmere'! Real lift yet intensely ripe fruit too. Very neat! 13.6%
The 2015 Haut Brion, a blend of 50% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, was picked between 8 September and 5 October, and is matured in the same level of new oak (78%) and IPT (75) as the La Mission. It has a heavenly bouquet that like the La Mission bestows instant gratification - a veritable kaleidoscope of aromas so crystalline that you can pick them out one by one: dark plum, blackcurrant, Kalamata olive and graphite. It is tempting to just nose this all day. The palate has an indescribably stunning balance and like the La Mission, there is a paradoxical sense of intensity married to weightlessness. Everything here is so precise, so pure and yet as it crescendos towards the finish, it offers a profundity that is unmatched across Bordeaux in this vintage. Having had the pleasure of many great wines from this estate in the past - 1945, 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1989 - the 2015 belongs among that pantheon.
"A structured and powerful Haut-Brion with so much finesse and beauty. Complex and long. It’s full and ultra-refined. Super length and polish. A formed and sexy Haut Brion." - James Suckling
50% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon. Picked 8 September to 5 October. Much more aromatic than La Mission. Lovely silky tannins but masses of them. Very strict and savoury. Really dense but manages to be expressive and convincing. A megalith. 14.9%
The 2015 Haut Brion Blanc is a blend of 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Semillon that was picked between 28 August and 7 September. Like the 2015 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc, the bouquet was quite backward despite rigorous aeration, reluctantly proffering aromas of lime, citrus lemon, gooseberry and a touch of tinned peach. The palate is very well balanced with a fine line of acidity, perhaps even more tensile and precise than the 2015 La Mission Haut-Brion with greengage, citrus lemon and a touch of pineapple furnishing the long finish. This is a beautifully crafted Haut Brion Blanc that will reward those with the nous to cellar it for 10-15 years.
"Dense and very powerful with reserve and seamless phenolic. Full body, sliced apple and lemon rind. So long and flavorful. A beautiful and balanced wine. Undertones of oyster shell and stone. Excellent as always." - James Suckling
69% Sauvignon Blanc, 31% Sémillon, 28 August to 7 September. Barrel-fermented with 50% new oak. 1993 was the last vintage with 100% new oak. Dense and lively. Turbo-charged Sauvignon! Some real elegance and lift - honey and the race of Sauvignon. Expressive. Drink 2022-
The 2015 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, a blend of one-third Sauvignon Blanc and two-thirds Semillon, picked between 28 August and 8 September, has an attractive bouquet with lime, Granny Smith apples, orange zest and cold stone, well defined if not the most complex that I have encountered over the years. The palate is lively on the entry with fine tension and impressive intensity, spicy on the tip of the tongue, almost fiery, with the Semillon dominating the finish and lending the complexity: hints of dried pineapple, almond and Cornice pear. This is an excellent La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, but it needs a few years for the aromatics to really open, just as Laville Haut-Brion did in the old days.
"Very balanced and fresh with stone and dried peach aromas and flavors. Very aromatic. Full body, fine phenolics and licorice. Show power and richness." - James Suckling
33% Sauvignon Blanc, 67% Sémillon, picked 28 August to 8 September.
The 2015 La Mission Haut Brion is a blend of 58% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 9 September and 1 October. Matured in 78% new oak, it has an incredibly pure bouquet with intense blueberry, blackberry, iodine and cold stone aromas that soar from the glass. There is nothing holding back here - a La Mission with real exuberance. The palate is medium-bodied with incredible intensity in the mouth, but without any leaden weight. It is a startling La Mission Haut-Brion to behold at this early stage. It is one of those wines where as a professional critic, I had to adopt a poker face to hide the untrammeled joy this nascent wine imparts. Complete and profound, the 2015 will rank as one of the great modern-day classics from this grand estate, another to add to that long list of magical La Missions.
"The purity in this wine is really mindblowing. So perfect. Licorice. Stone. Blackberry, blueberry. Full body. The power is amazing. But then it finishes etheral and so agile and beautiful. I am lost for words. This will rank with the best ever from here including 1975 and 1929. 58% merlot, 35% cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc." - James Suckling
Floral, honeyed nose. Big but with sufficient acidity and race. Clearly lots of alcohol (more than 14.5%). Heat on the end. Big AND crisp! A bit harsher than La Clarté de Haut-Brion.
The 2015 Pape Clement Blanc is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Gris picked between 12 and 15 September at 29.5 hl/ha. Around 15% of the production was aged on egg-shaped concrete tanks. The nose is actually more introverted than the deuxième vin at the moment, but the complexity is locked in via shucked oyster shell and citrus notes. The palate is extremely well balanced with a keen line of acidity that imparts tension and freshness. This is a succinctly crafted white Bordeaux, almost understated at first, but it is only when it departs down the throat that its quality become apparent. Like the aforementioned deuxième vin, this comes highly recommended.
"So dense and powerful. Layered and chewy. Phenolic. Full body, dried apple and pear. Pineapple too. Goes on for minutes." - James Suckling
Big and bold on the nose. Very rich, almost sweet, and then, for the moment, the crisp citrus bit on the finish is not (yet?) integrated. Quite a show stopper but possibly too big and rich to marry with food easily.
The 2015 Pape Clement is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. It was cropped at 40 hl/ha between 25 September and 15 October with berry by berry destemming. It has a drop-dead gorgeous bouquet that continues the ever greater finesse that has been imparted into this Pape-Clément in recent years. It is extremely precise, almost crystalline. The palate is underpinned by fine tannin, pitch-perfect acidity, a sense of cohesion and harmony that is outstanding. There is not a hair out of place on this barrel sample and it will doubtless evolve into one of the best wines this state has produced since the 14th century, when Bertrand de Goth was planting its first vines. This comes highly recommended - a Pape-Clément that will reward those who can resist temptation and cellar this wine for 10+ years. Tasted on four separate occasions.
"Shows amazing depth of fruit with fabulous polish and length. Electric acidity. Full body, very integrated and refined tannins. Great finish." - James Suckling
Big, broad and overt in style, with a thick frame of espresso and roasted apple wood around a core of dense plum paste and cassis flavors. Strides along authoritatively, as melted licorice and fruitcake notes fill in on the hefty finish. Shows more style
Very dark. Sweet yet fresh - very beguiling initially but maybe a little overdone. Intense and almost as though concentrated. Rather dry on the end. Hard work on the end.
The 2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc is a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Sauvignon Blanc matured in 50% new oak. It has a crisp, conservative bouquet, tightly wound at first, reticent even, though with a couple of minutes' swirling, it reveals intense fresh lime flower, pink grapefruit, guava and blood orange scents. The palate is extremely well balanced with a silver bead of acidity, a dab of sour lemon than cleanses the mouth, followed by pink grapefruit, citrus lemon and green apple notes towards the long finish. This is another outstanding white Smith-Haut-Lafitte from winemaker Fabien Tietgen and the famille Cathiard.
"A beautiful white with pretty density and richness. Bright and clear with intense aromas and flavors of lilacs and stones. Some violet. Full and bright. Firm phenolic tension. Bright acidity." - James Suckling
5% 24-year-old Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon, the rest Sauvignon Blanc - used to be 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Ploughed by horses for the last 15 years. They still have eight horses, boasted winemaker Fabien. 'Too many,' muttered co-owner Florence Cathiard. Fabien stopped skin maceration about four years ago to make the wine last longer.
The 2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte is adorned with a special label to celebrate the 650th anniversary of the château and the 25th vintage made under the ownership of Daniel and Florence Cathiard. It is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, picked between 23 September until 12 October with the Cabernet Franc. Matured in 65% new oak (although technical director Fabien Teitgen mentioned that he could have added more if he felt it would benefit), it has a very intense, blueberry and crème de cassis scented bouquet, a touch more opulent than its peers with hints of freshly shucked oyster shell developing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin couched in gorgeous, satin-textured black cherry and cassis fruit, tinged with cedar and pencil shavings. It lingers very long and sensually in the mouth, completing a sophisticated and powerful Smith Haut-Lafitte that should age in splendid fashion.
"This is a very polished and precise young wine with beautiful depth and intensity. Full and sexy. It shows blueberry and black currant character with walnut and chocolate undertones. The tannins have a lovely texture. Joy to taste." - James Suckling
Ripe and succulent in feel, with warm plum and blackberry confiture notes leading the way. Picks up singed alder and tar details through the finish, gaining extra depth. Very pure, but with ample grip in reserve. A serious wine.—J.M.
Broad and rich. Perfumed. Quite rich. Long and broad.
The 2015 Calon Segur is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot (no Cabernet Franc in the Grand Vin this year). It was picked from 8 September until 5 October at a yield of 47 hl/ha and is matured in 100% new oak for the next 20 months. The Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the aromatics with blackberry, cedar and graphite aromas: quite linear, nicely focused and reserved compared to the 2014 last year. The palate is understated on the entry, the tannin very fine and the acidity very well judged. Like the nose, the Cabernet drives this wine forward: structured and a little "brittle" in the mouth, perhaps the most Pauillac-like Calon-Segur that I have encountered over many years of tasting. Afford this several years in bottle.
"This is very fine and integrated with black currant, walnut and fresh tobacco. Full body, pretty polish. Sophisticated. Well done for the vintage for this appellation." - James Suckling
A solid effort, with plum and dark cherry fruit showing the fleshier side of the vintage. Shows silky tannins underneath and a pleasant tobacco edge on the finish.—J.M.
82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. 47 hl/ha. 20 months in 100% new oak. Dark crimson. Pure and aromatic. Pretty dense and dry with a hint of sweet oak. Solid and concentrated. All set for the long term. Pretty introvert. Edgy finish but more sweetness than there used to be. Intense - more intense than usual for this property. A little attenuated on the end. Very solid indeed! 13.3%
The 2015 Cos d'Estournel is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23.5% Merlot and 1.5% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 17 September and 5 October at 44 hl/ha. It is being matured in 65% new oak, less than in recent years due to the tannin (IPT is 71). Deeper in color than the 2015 Pagodes, it has a very pure bouquet with tightly knitted blackberry, blueberry and violet scents, perhaps just a little Margaux-like in style. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity and harmonious in the mouth. What it does not quite deliver is the complexity of a top-tier Cos d'Estournel or the peacock's tail of flavors on the finish, which feels linear and conservative compared to its peers in more southerly appellations. You feel as if the vintage put a tight leash on this Saint Estèphe grandee. There is pedigree in this Grand Vin for sure and it is bound to give up to 20 years of pleasure.
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23.5% Merlot, 1.5% Cabernet Franc. IPT 71. 65% new oak. Extremely dark crimson. Lovely spice and breadth. Hint of tobacco leaf with lots of ripe fruit. Very comfortable. A lovely pair of slippers. Real tension and ripeness - great combo. Nothing forced. Ethereal and builds towards the end. Certainly has the graphite ingredient. 13.4%
The 2015 Cos Labory has a slightly muted, chalky nose that showed just a little dilution. The palate is medium-bodied and nicely balanced. I feel that nobody here has tried to compensate for the storm that affected the harvest, dialed this Cos Labory down a couple of notches to retain a clean and fresh, lightly spiced Saint Estèphe that should give a decade of drinking pleasure - even if it will not top your wine of the year list.
"A fresh and clean 2015 with mineral, blackberry and stone character. Medium, fine tannins and a fresh finish. A little diluted but should fill in." - James Suckling
New chai for this vintage. Dark crimson. Savoury nose. Solid with edges of velvet. Rather more flattering than the average St-Estèphe.
The 2015 Lafon Rochet is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, picked between 25 September and 9 October. Matured in 40% to 50% new oak from eight coopers including Stockinger since last year, it has a dense blackberry and boysenberry scented bouquet that is a little more voluptuous than its peers. The palate is again quite dense with "stocky" tannin, obdurate and a little hard at the moment, structured and clearly a Lafon-Rochet that is built for the long-term. It will need several years to just lose its brutishness.
"A firm and silky red with blueberry and dark chocolate aromas and flavors. Full to medium body, serious core of fruit for the vintage." - James Suckling
Fresh and direct, featuring a ripe beam of kirsch and black cherry fruit augmented by lilac and iron notes. Balanced, with a gentle structure.—J.M.
Particularly dark. Rather beguiling. Perhaps a bit more evolved than most but rewarding. Nice lift at the end. Very fruity/juicy.
The 2015 Marquis de Calon Segur is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc cropped at 47 hectoliters per hectare and matured in 50% new wood over the next 17 months. The blend is indicative of a decreasing proportion of Merlot. The nose is very attractive, quite rich and opulent in style, macerated black cherries, cassis and violet, nicely defined and gaining intensity in the glass. The palate is smooth on the entry with ripe blackberry and boysenberry fruit. There is a little graininess to the texture and a pleasant salinity that just crescendos towards the finish, leaving a marine-influenced residue in the mouth. This has very good potential and is certainly an improvement in terms of the deuxième vin compared to previous vintages.
"Very finely textured with blueberry and blackberry character. Very polished tannins. Fresh finish. Second wine of Calon Segur." - James Suckling
Fine, St-Estèphe nose. Some richness, certainly full ripeness. Classic, very satisfying, well-balanced stuff. GV
The 2015 Montrose is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 15 September and 8 October, the fruit sorted three times using three sorting tables, then an optical sorting machine and finally by hand. Matured in 65% new oak, it possesses some of the best aromatics you will find in the appéllation - billowing blackberry, cassis and boysenberry scents all beautifully defined and seamlessly integrated with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, commendable depth and a vibrant bead of acidity that lends this Montrose tension from start to finish. The class comes through strongly in this wine, perhaps the best Saint Estèphe this year. Give this a decade in bottle, more if you can, since Montrose tends to repay cellaring.
"Blueberry, black currant, fresh basil and lemon grass flavors. Full body, velvety tannins, clean finish. Spices. Depth." - James Suckling
67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc. Very dark and very dramatic. Even a hint of overripeness on the nose. A little stodgy. Could do with a little more lift. A little dry at present. Clearly fashioned for the very long term. Kerpow! Very much in the style of the old Montroses in terms of sheer concentration.
The 2015 Beychevelle was picked between 22 September and 8 October, a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot that will be matured in 50% new oak. It has quite a high IPT at 81, a pH of 3.72. It has a clean and crisp bouquet, tightly-wound at first, then unfurls with redcurrant, cranberry and raspberry scents, leaning towards the red spectrum rather than black. There is impressive delineation here, no frills, almost clinical in its "aromatic efficiency." The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. This is a suave Beychevelle in the making, harmonious in the mouth, supple even, gently building towards a lightly spiced finish. Among the Saint Julien wines, this is clearly one of the more understated 2015s. It is only when you swallow the wine that its lingering flavors remind you that this could evolve into one of Philippe Blanc's great Beychevelles. While it is not a headline-grabbing wine, a decade in bottle will be handsomely rewarded.
"This is very pretty with ultra-fine tannins, blueberry, blackberry and mineral flavors. Full body, integrated and balanced. Shows refinement and tension." - James Suckling
This has a plush, slightly smoky edge, with plum sauce and blackberry confiture notes forming the core. Shows ample stuffing through the finish, presenting a pleasantly chewy edge.—J.M.
Bright crimson. Aromatic rather than concentrated. Racy and sinewy. Lots of charm and pzazz without being in the least heavy. Bravo!
The 2015 Branaire-Ducru is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 18 September until 8 October, with two or three intervals in between. Matured in around 60% new oak (although as usual my barrel sample was from a new oak barrel), it has a high-toned, black cherry and cassis scented nose that perhaps feels a little constricted by the new wood in this sample, though not necessarily once in bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with a lightly spiced entry, white pepper and a touch of sage, gritty tannin, foursquare and a little conservative. There is commendable weight on the finish, if not quite the precision compared to its peers. I noticed this gaining more cohesion in the glass, which bodes well for once the Branaire-Ducru is in bottle. I expect this to rest at the top of my banded score.
"This is very structured and tight with chewy polished tannins and blueberry, blackberry. Full and savory. Should develop beautifully." - James Suckling
Pretty and aromatic, with flavors of kirsch and cherry preserves mixed with tobacco and bay notes. Stays energetic through the relatively sleek finish. Wins on purity.—J.M.
Dark ruby. Sweetly gamey on the nose. A little light compared with some but very correct. Quite advanced. But just slightly austere in style. No one could object but I can't imagine many falling madly in love. Stones on the finish.
The 2015 Clos du Marquis is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc cropped at 39 hl/ha between 22 September and 9 October, a total of 15 days of picking. Matured in 50% new oak, it has a pure and harmonious bouquet with blackberry, sous-bois and subtle tobacco aromas that gently unfold in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin in the mouth, a keen line of acidity, fine precision here with a mineral-rich finish that exudes terroir expression. This is a great Clos du Marquis from Jean-Hubert Delon and his team, a Clos du Marquis with swagger.
Gorgeous, with anise, plum, blackberry and sweet tobacco notes already melded together seamlessly. Fleshy and inviting through the finish, with long, velvety tannins that are the hallmark of 2015. This is a delicious wine in the making.—J.M.
66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Very dark crimson. Very fragrant and much more concentrated and rich than Petite Marquise. Cool and fresh. Really very sophisticated. Bravo! Compete and sappy. 13.8%
The 2015 La Croix de Beaucaillou is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. It has a floral note on the nose: small black cherries, blueberry and wilted violets, the last becoming more intense as the initially tight-fisted wine opens in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannin. There is very well-judged acidity and its texture is harmonious and silky smooth. The quality is loaded more in the mouth than on the nose at the moment, but it is a seriously classy "deuxième vin" that just needs a little more persistence on the finish.
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. IPT 70. From a terroir near Léoville Barton on a southern flank of a stream. Small clusters. 40 hl/ha. Two-thirds new oak. Savoury nose - really racy. Very fresh and sinewy. Racy and polished. Dry finish. But pretty sweet fruit in the middle. This 'second wine' showed extremely well even next to the grand vin, but presumably will not last as long. 13.53%
The 2015 Ducru Beaucaillou is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, picked from around 28 September to 6 October. Matured in 100% new oak for what will be 18 months, delivering 13.5% alcohol, it has a relatively opulent bouquet for Saint Julien, with ripe black plum mixed with blackberry and cranberry, very well defined and neatly interwoven with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly savory opening, gently but insistently gripping the mouth. It feels dense and structured with a subtle marine-like note towards the linear, black olive-tinged finish. Bruno Borie has a 2015 with backbone, with longevity in mind. I suspect this will require a decade for the tannins to soften and continue the purple patch for this grand estate.
"A dense and compressed red with loads of blackberry and blueberry character. Fresh wet vineyard soil. Some mushroom too. Full and very tannic yet polished and very refined. Super balance and depth." - James Suckling
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot. IPT 75, pH 3.89, 35 hl/ha. Highest proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon ever. 100% new oak. From 2003 the wine has been aged for 18 months in barrel. Very deep. Lifted and fresh. Very correct and unforced. Very sweet. Only just not too sweet… Transparent. Very expressive. Lively and fresh but a bit sinewy. 13.42%
The 2015 Gruaud Larose is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, picked from 21 September. It has a rather conservative bouquet, reticent at first, gradually unfolding with truffle-tinged black fruit, the oak nicely integrated but perhaps needing a little more energy. The palate is ripe and rounded on the entry, fleshier than many of its Saint Julien counterparts, quite sumptuous in terms of mouthfeel with a suave texture. There is a sense of linearity here, a strictness that particularly comes through on the finish. The purity is commendable and the tannin, fine, but what it needs is that final flourish. It just misses that killer blow on the finish and saunters to its conclusion. I hope that it gains more in barrel.
"A velvety and flavorful red with dusty tannins and lots of ripe fruit. It remains fresh and balanced. Harmonious. Excited to see it develop in barrel." - James Suckling
Nicely focused, with a beam of red and black currant fruit inlaid with subtle spice notes and carried by velvety tannins. A little shy on range, but this is solidly built.—J.M.
Mid crimson. Mild, well-balanced nose. Ripe but not overripe. Neat and confident. A good expression of a charming accessible vintage. Neat and comfortable.
The 2015 Lagrange is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot, continuing the estate's philosophy including more Cabernet in the Grand Vin (for example, in 2005 it was just 46%.) Cropped at 50 hl/ha and matured in around 50% to 55% new oak from six different cooperages, it has a tightly-knit bouquet with blackberry, cedar and light rose petal scents, elegant in style. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly grainy tannin, moderate weight in the mouth, not as intense as either the 2009 or 2010, although it is harmonious and graceful. There is a pleasant spicy, white pepper note that lingers on the aftertaste of what should be one of the earlier drinking Saint Julien wines.
"A tight and silky red with lovely blackberry and walnut shell character. Full body, firm and silky tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Gorgeous balance. Mostly merlot with a touch of cabernet franc." - James Suckling
Nicely packed, with enticing red and black currant fruit that is enlivened with anise, sweet tobacco and incense notes. Lightly toasty, with just a little tug of cedar at the end.—J.M.
Lightly meat and two veg on the nose. Juicy - juicer than usual with the tannins well covered up by ripe fruit. Bone dry but not austere. Very correct even if not amazingly winning.
The 2015 Langoa Barton is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc picked between 19 September and 5 October, matured in 60% new oak. It has a slightly smudged bouquet at first, a mixture of red and black fruit, a little sous-bois and tobacco developing in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with gently grippy tannin, veering more towards red fruit here, but laced with tobacco and cedar notes. The finish is austere and perhaps mean at the moment, so hopefully it will develop more flesh by the time of bottling. I must confess that I cannot remember tasting Langoa next to Léoville Barton at this stage and finding such a disparity between the two wines, attested by tasting the 2014s just afterwards and finding them closer together in terms of quality.
"Very ripe and fruit with lots of mature berry and plum character. Full body, round tannins and a savory finish. Juicy." - James Suckling
Almost timid on the nose, this wine is so polite. After you … Quite a bit of acidity compared with some. Very straight-backed rather than full of pleasure. Just depends on your preferred style - but this certainly builds towards an impressive finish.
The 2015 Le Petit Lion is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 60% Merlot cropped at 39 hl/ha and matured in 30% new oak. It consists of younger vines from Leoville Las Cases, plus some of the old Merlot vines (which is why there is only 6% in the Grand Vin). It has quite a broody bouquet at first, though it opens up over the course of five to ten minutes, offering blackberry, bilberry, tar and graphite aromas, erring a little towards Pauillac in style. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm tannin in the mouth, a keen thread of acidity, noticeable graphite notes again towards the finish that reinforces that Pauillac-like semblance. This is a commendable deuxième vin, one bolstered by that old Merlot vine this year.
40% young Cabernet Sauvignon, 60% old Merlot (because Las Cases does not have much Merlot). 30% new oak. Mid crimson. Spicy, soft nose - really rather charming. Transparent and much more accessible than Las Cases. Racy. Sells for a little less than Clos du Marquis. 13.85%
The 2015 Leoville Barton is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot picked between 19-22 September and 28 September until 5 October for the Merlot and Cabernet respectively. Matured in 60% new oak, it has a more compelling and intense bouquet than the 2015 Langoa Barton at this early stage, whereas in other years I have found the siblings closer together. It delivers some lovely blackberry, sage and cigar box scents. The palate is very refined with edgy tannin, beautifully balanced with seamlessly integrated oak. It is the classic Léoville-Barton style, full of energy and showing more breeding than the Langoa on the finish. This is just an outstanding, classic, drop-dead gorgeous Léoville Barton that is destined to give immense pleasure over the coming years. Bravo Anthony, Lilian et al.
"A very savory and fruity red with red currant and plum aromas and flavors. Full body, firm backbone of tannins and a fresh finish. A generous and fruity young red. Fruity forward in a reserved way." - James Suckling
Gutsy, with mouthfilling blackberry and black currant compote flavors buttressed with very lively bramble and licorice notes. There's loads of grip, but this is velvety in feel.—J.M.
Glowing purplish crimson. Very obviously 'sweeter' and chunkier than the Langoa Barton just tasted. But not too much. Full of appeal. And there is masses of tannin here! Lots going on here.
The 2015 Leoville Las-Cases has the highest Cabernet contents in recent years, 85% and 9% of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc respectively, partly because some of the old Merlot vines were blended into the deuxième vin. Picked between 22 September and 9 October, a total of 15 days picking, it will be matured in 85% new oak. The alcohol level is 13.8%, higher than 2010 for example. Jean-Hubert Delon has crafted an extremely pure and tensile bouquet, almost pixelated with blackberry, briary, slate and oyster shell aromas that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, svelte and sensual on the entry, the tannins a little edgy with a gentle crescendo: black fruit, tons of minerals, real focus and precision towards the finish. This is a superlative Léoville Las-Cases with the substance to suggest long-term aging will be repaid.
"This is an ethereal young wine with blackberry and violet aromas and flavors. Full body, very firm and silky tannins and a superb finish. Lovely length and purity to this. 85% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot and 9% cabernet franc." - James Suckling
Very tightly focused, with both charcoal and iron harnessing the core of dark currant and blackberry fruit flavors. Sleek in feel, but not for lack of depth, as this is brimming with dark fruit and terroir, just in a more austere fashion.—J.M.
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot 9% Cabernet Franc - highest proportion of Cab ever. 85% new barrels. More voluptuous nose than some earlier vintages. Bone-dry finish. Pretty concentrated and with some richness. Solid and mineral but not (quite) as obdurate as it used to be. Fruit and ink combo. Minerals like Pauillac on the end. Grabs the attention. 13.85%
The 2015 Léoville Poyferré is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc that was harvested between 24 September and 10 October. The IPT comes in at 80 with a pH 3.69. It has a typical Léoville-Poyferré bouquet at this stage: quite bullish and forthright, packed full of dense black cherries, red plum and cassis, the 85% new oak pronounced, but will be subsumed with bottle age. The palate is full-bodied with mouth-coating tannin: layers of graphite-infused black fruit, cedar and mint, almost Pauillac-like in personality with a sustained graphite finish. This is a sophisticated Saint Julien built for long-term ageing, perhaps less flamboyant than recent vintages, but the terroir shows through. Expect it to land at the top of my banded score, possibly higher.
"A dense and savory red with plenty of phenolic texture and ripe fruit character. Hints of walnut and spice too. Chewy finish. Solid center palate." - James Suckling
This features depth and focus, with a really solid core of currant and blackberry lined with ample iron and briar notes. Not shy with the toast, but the finish is energetic, and everything is pulling together.—J.M.
Deep purple. Glowing. Flattering nose but without the undertow of some. Lots of energy and just a hint of sweet oak. A solid performance.
The 2015 Château Saint Pierre is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc cropped at 48 hl/ha between 21 September and 7 October, matured in 50% new oak. It has a tightly wound bouquet with blackberry, raspberry and cedar, just a touch of pencil shaving surfacing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent tannin on the entry, quite tensile with a fine bead of acidity. This is not the most complex Saint-Pierre that I have encountered, although it possesses 2015's elegance and refinement. This will have more to give after bottling and may ultimately overtake Gloria. Tasted twice with consistent notes.
"Linear and lively with pretty blueberry, blackberry character. Polished tannins. Fine finish." - James Suckling
A dark, strapping style, offering lots of tarry-edged grip around the blackberry and plum compote notes, with a pretty espresso hint through the finish. Lush overall, as the vintage’s velvety tannins are here in spades.—J.M.
Blackish crimson. Not the ripest on the nose. A little too austere? Ticks boxes rather the tugs at heart strings. A little low key.
The 2015 Talbot has a very typical nose for this Saint Julien estate: unapologetically classic in style, reserved even, with very subtle blackberry and briary scents tinged with pencil shavings. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, moderate weight in the mouth, but it feels very linear and conservative towards the finish. Talbot rarely shows well out of barrel and can improve in bottle, so I will be a little more optimistic in my score and hope that it gains matière during élevage.
"A refined yet chewy young red with lots of blackberry and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, ripe tannins and a fresh and clean finish." - James Suckling
This distinctive wine puts a slightly chewy and austere note of warm stone alongside the vintage’s more typical lush tannins, giving this interesting contrast. The core sports solid currant and blackberry fruit, with ample length.—J.M.
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Mid crimson. Fragrant. Not concentrated but fresh and vital on the nose. Absolutely classic claret for early drinking. Or airlines!
The 2015 Doisy-Daene has a detailed bouquet, very correct, nothing showy or flamboyant as is typical of Denis Dubourdieu's Barsac. The palate is extremely well balanced and very pure: citrus fruit infusing the honeyed botrytis, veins of white peach and quince, leading to a very precise and sustained finish that leaves you with a smile on your face...and the wine ain't even finished yet! Just a wonderful wine - full of class and nascent joie-de-vivre. Chapeau Denis!
"Wow. This is really impressive with a fabulous density and style. So much mushroom, almond and dried apple, apricot character. Fresh and bright. Joyous." - James Suckling
Bright greenish gold. Complex, immediately appealing nose. Racy yet with weight. A very superior wine. Real attack and structure. I wonder what L'Extravagant is like?! Really very rewarding and compelling. Lots of substance but not at all heavy. Such drive and energy here!
The 2015 L'Extravagant de Doisy Daene has a powerful, intense but very pure bouquet laden with acacia honey, peach and quince, yet very defined and not at all overwhelming - remarkable given the richness locked into this Sauternes. The palate is medium-bodied with sensual, rounded, honeyed fruit, plenty of botrytis as you would expect, but leavened with a keen line of acidity. The finish offers peach and nectarine mixed with wild honey and a dash of spice to complete a fabulous wine from Denis Dubourdieu.
The 2015 Doisy-Vedrines has quite an intense nose, perhaps less fat and honeyed than recent vintages, more finesse if not quite capturing the same level of details as the Doisy-Daëne this year. The palate is very promising with layers of honeyed fruit tinged with white chocolate and almond, a lovely swagger about this Doisy-Vedrines that reminds me of great vintages such as 1989. Always well priced, you won't harm your cellar with a case of Olivier Castèja's sumptuous Barsac.
"This has phenolic tension and power with so much dried fruit character from pineapple to mango. Full, medium sweet and lively. Really excellent." - James Suckling
Deep gold. Broad pear-juice nose. Massive weight and some spice. Big and bold. Dramatic weight even if not the raciness of the other Doisy. Clear botrytis influence.
The 2015 Rieussec, a blend of 86% Semillon and 14% Sauvignon Blanc, was picked over five tries through the vineyard between 9 September and 27 October. "We had a bit of frost towards the end and 10% was harvested afterwards. The quality was affected and this was put into the second wine," winemaker Eric Kohler informed me. This year the grand vin constitutes between one-third and one-fourth of the total crop. It has a fragrant bouquet, of honey, white almond and peach, that is disarmingly seductive. The palate is refined and poised: a lovely thread of acidity here, with a keen mineral-laden finish that leaves the mouth tingling with pleasure. This is a top-tier Rieussec that hits all the right buttons.
Not that dark in colour - yet. Very sweet nose with great creamy texture. Big and brawny but it knows what it's doing. Pretty high alcohol. Some savoury notes. Very confident.
The 2015 Suduiraut comes with 123 grams per liter of residual sugar, more modest than some of its Sauternes peers and 4.56 grams per liter of acidity. It has a sense of completeness on the nose already: immense clarity with wild honey and quince aromas that gain intensity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with very pure botrytised fruit, very focused and one of the most intense Sauternes you will find this year. It feels long and sophisticated in the mouth yet never overpowers, never really has to put its foot right down on the accelerator. This is a wonderful Suduiraut, not quite up to the level of the ethereal 2009...although not too far off.
Round and complete with many layers of interest and an intriguingly dry finish after lots of sweetness and botrytis. Really well done! You could almost enjoy this already but there is lots more to come.
The 2015 Blanc de Lynch Bages, 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Semillon and 17% Muscadelle, matured in 45% new oak. The yields were just 29.8 hectoliters per hectare, because of the dry growing conditions that particularly affected the Sauvignon Blanc. It has an attractive bouquet with scents of lime, gooseberry and beeswax, the oak neatly enmeshed. The palate is fresh and vibrant, harmonious in the mouth with a twist of bitter lemon on the mid-palate, easing down towards the finish with Cornice pear and citrus peel notes. There is very pleasant salinity on the aftertaste that urges you back for another sip. This is an accomplished Blanc de Lynch Bages that should offer several years' drinking pleasure.
Very pungent indeed. Almost Kiwi richness on the nose. Lots of depth though. Really racy.
The 2015 Cos d'Estournel Blanc is a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Sémillon, picked between 14 and 29 September at a low 29 hl/ha. It has a charming bouquet with lime flower, apricot blossom and just a touch of blood orange. There is a sprightliness to this wine. The palate is crisp and fresh with a fine bead of acidity, plenty of tension here and perhaps more precision than previous vintages that I have tasted since its debut. I like the flow of energy here. This is an excellent Cos d'Estournel Blanc that should age with style and panache.
"This shows what great selection did in the northern M?doc. Big surprise. Really excellent. Full body, chewy and rich tannins and loads of ripe fruit. Black currants, blue berries. It has hot and ripe tannins yet cool fruit." - James Suckling
75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon. 15% new oak. Pale greenish straw. Very exuberant nose. And pretty tight and grapefruity dry finish. Tight. Chalky finish. Tight and racy and ambitious. 12.9%
The 2015 Pavillon Blanc de Château Margaux was cropped at 20 hl/ha and represents just one-third of the production, equivalent to around 10,000 bottles. It has a fresh lime cordial, apple blossom and white peach scented bouquet that is very seductive. The palate is well balanced with a keen thread of acidity, engendered by the cool nights in August and September. It is very harmonious with almond and a touch of stem ginger and sour lemon towards the finish, an accomplished Pavillon Blanc that should offer 10-15 years of pleasure.
100% Sauvignon from vines more than 40 years old. 10,000 bottles from 12 ha. 20% new oak and big 400-litre casks. Extremely rich nose. Racy and lively with a green streak. Deliberately more acidity than in the old days. Just finishes a little more suddenl
The 2015 Clinet is a blend of 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc, cropped at 37 hl/ha and matured in 65% new oak. It was picked from 15 September commencing with the young Merlot vines, and finishing between 28 and 1 October with the very old Merlots and the Cabernets. A couple of specific features to note: the alcohol level is 14.3%, perhaps a little lower than some of Clinet's peers and also a IPT of up to 88, higher than 2010 even. Broody at first, it eventually develops a perfumed bouquet as it opens, with black fruit, melted tar and a brush of black truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. There is plenty of nascent energy in this Clinet, spicier than other vintages that I have tasted over the years, linear at first and then fanning out towards the finish with a dash of white pepper on the aftertaste. It is a very harmonious Clinet, one that I suspect will favor those with the nous to age this Pomerol for 5-7 years, even though it might tempt you earlier. This is a great Pomerol from Ronan Laborde and his team.
"OMG. This is really dense and rich with velvety tannins and so much fruit and length. Super concentration and structure. Greatest Clinet ever. No jam. Just class." - James Suckling
The fleshy plum, blackberry and boysenberry fruit flavors sail along, gilded with a hint of anise and backed by velvety tannins. Shows serious length already and latent depth. A hedonistic wine in the making.—J.M.
Purplish. Almost overripe nose. Very velvety texture. More savoury than sweet on the palate. Hugely ambitious. Rather drying tannins on the end. Not my style but a very good example of the super-concentrated style.
The 2015 Fleur de Bouard has a powerful redcurrant, wild strawberry and almost, confit-like bouquet that manages to retain satisfactory delineation and freshness. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy ripe tannin, layers of blackberry and blueberry fruit laced with white pepper and a touch of soy, leading to a structured finish. It will need 4-6 years in bottle for those tannins to soften and approach its drinking window. I would just like more joie-de-vivre - it seems too serious at this stage.
Inky fragrance. Very round and syrupy on palate entry. Only just the right side of appetising. Dry finish. But all stops have been pulled out! Just a slightly hot end.
The 2015 Gazin has a perfumed bouquet with layers of black cherry, raspberry coulis and truffle scents, more welcoming and sensual than the wines a decade ago from barrel when they intermittently felt under-ripe. There is none of that here for sure. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit on the entry. There is excellent structure here, a masculine Gazin with plenty of grip, counterbalanced by abundant tertiary, tobacco-tinged black fruit. There is real salinity towards the finish, completing a superb wine by Nicolas de Bailliencourt and his team. Do not overlook this Pomerol. It is one of the subtler expressions of the 2015 vintage and one that I am sure will develop beautifully in cask.
Ripe, rounded and inviting in feel, with a red licorice frame around a core of plum sauce and cherry preserves. A touch of alder peeks out on the finish, as this has yet to digest the oak, but the pieces are in place for a rock-solid Pomerol.—J.M.
The 2015 Le Pin, which comes in at a modest 13.8% alcohol, has a very perfumed and precise bouquet with raspberry coulis, crème de cassis, rose petals and cold stone aromas. This is adorned with very pure fruit, perhaps more confit-like than other vintages that I have tasted out of barrel. The palate is medium-bodied with a grainy texture on the entry and an extremely fine line of acidity. This is a decidedly more structured Le Pin from Jacques Thienpont, maybe a more masculine wine with fine backbone and lovely salinity towards the finish. There is enormous persistence that lingers long in the mouth, developing a marine-like nuance as it aerates. I like the seriousness here that neatly offsets the exuberance and precocity of the vintage, a wonderful Le Pin that will age with style and verve. Jacques suggested that it might be like the 1986 Le Pin. If so, judging by a half-bottle he then opened, a lucky few are going to be in for a treat.
The 2015 L'Evangile is a blend of 84% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Franc picked between September 15 and October 5, and September 29 to October 5 respectively. Matured almost in 100% new oak, it has a very pure and charming bouquet, the Merlot dominant and slightly shrouding the Cabernet Franc at the moment. It is worth staying with this Pomerol, because it does change after four to five minutes in the glass, revealing touches of truffle and iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, understated on the entry but gaining momentum in the glass, retaining a wonderful sense of symmetry and finishing with precision and class. This could well be the pick of the wines from the Domaines Barons Rothschild stable in 2015 and kudos to winemaker Jean-Pascal Vazart.
"What a wine here. It is so traditional and powerful with super depth of fruit and chewy tannins. Full body, incredible concentration and length. It's so muscular and powerful. So minerally and nutty (walnuts). Marvelous." - James Suckling
84% Merlot picked 15 September - 5 October, 16% Cabernet Franc picked 29 September - 5 October. Extremely dark crimson. Floral, opulent nose. Something quite masculine and leathery - animal? - on the nose. Lots of intensity and sweetness. Almost chocolatey! Tannins not quite integrated yet, but they are quite sandpapery. A little bit of heat on the end. A wine that takes you to the limit of sweetness. 14.8%
The 2015 La Conseillante, a blend of 81% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, is extraordinarily pure and elegant on the nose. Here, I find a little more red fruit than black fruit, extremely elegant and articulating the terroir with great clarity. At first, wild strawberry and cranberry, then crushed stone, a touch of black truffle and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with fine tannin on the entry. This is one of the most approachable La Conseillante wines that I have tasted in barrel, the acidity very well judged, "classic" in style, good backbone here with a structured finish. It does not quite possess the bravura of the 2010 La Conseillante and I would agree with winemaker Marielle Cazaux that it bears more semblances to the 2005 La Conseillante at this stage, and even bore common traits with its neighbour, Vieux Château Certan. This is an intellectual and to put it prosaically, "delicious" La Conseillante.
Lush notes of dark fig, boysenberry and blackberry pâte de fruit glide over ample but velvety tannins, with suave black tea and ganache accents. This is long and should be gorgeous when finished.—J.M.
81% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc. Picked 21 September - 7 October. 70% new oak. Direct, savoury nose. New winemaker wants to keep the aromas of Conseillante but they want to add a little more grip. Sweet and fresh with some tea leaf aromas. The oak tannins are just perceptible but it should all calm down. Definitely quite grippy now! 14.5%
The 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, picked between 21-25 September at 41 hl/ha and matured in 70% new oak. Denis Durantou poured two samples for me. First from Darnajou barrel. Here, a very composed, effortless bouquet with extremely pure raspberry coulis, strawberry, almost confit-like scents that display ethereal delineation. This is not a powerful or intense bouquet, rather one that is sophisticated and refined, bunches of violet emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit, crisp acidity, mineral-rich and tensile. There is tangible energy and refinement on the finish that lingers long and tenderly in the mouth, a wine constantly having something more to say. The second came from Demptos barrel. This was deeper on the nose, showing a touch more fruit, slightly higher toned. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, structured in the mouth, perhaps the barrel impressing its character more on the wine than the Darnajou. Together, they should combine to create a quite magical 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet.
"Lively and energized. Full body, intense and dense tannins. Great wine. Goes on for minutes. Such focus and clarity." - James Suckling
Very restrained and graceful now, this has serious cut and persistence to the blood orange, bitter cherry and plum fruit flavors. Shows a minerally edge through the finish, with ample flesh that should expand a bit more with the élevage. Fresh and long.—J.M.
Quite soft. Perfumed - floral and possibly violet. Easy and friendly. Quite gentle tannins. Very sweet and round. 14.6% alcohol is not evident. An unexpectedly mild, well-mannered wine. Undramatic. Looks almost modest at this point.
The 2015 Vieux Château Certan is a blend of 80% Merlot,, 19% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, cropped between September 17 and October 2 at 42 hectoliters per hectare. The IPT is healthy 83 and the pH is 3.72, the alcohol 14.6%. Enough statistics. What you need to know is that it is a beguiling Pomerol that will set hearts aflutter. It is bridled with a heavenly bouquet with intense red and black fruit, black truffle and a touch of smoke, opening wonderfully in the glass; the Cabernet Franc is very expressive and imparting a licorice note after ten minutes. The palate is medium-bodied with intensity, with a killer line of acidity that imparts freshness from the very start. There is life-affirming tension interwoven throughout this extremely complex wine from Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont. There are layers, more like a mille-feuille of blackberry, boysenberry, mineral, truffle and a touch of spice towards the finish, just a touch of warmth from the alcohol that merely complements an extraordinary and profound Pomerol.
"A powerful and rich wine with super concentration and length. Deep and very rich. Glorious blackberry and black chocolate. Full and super velvety. A creamy texture of stone, chalk and lemon rind from the tannins and acidity. Wow. Loving it. The caressing character is so memorable. 80% merlot and 20% cabernet franc." - James Suckling
Highest alcohol ever: 14.6%. 4,500 cases. Very intense nose with strong mineral notes - lots of Cabernet Franc influence. Massive impact with really luscious ripe fruit but massive tannins too. Very satiny initially but underneath there is massive tannin. Lovely fragrant top note. Beautifully married. Very sophisticated and with many layers. All vineyard not winemaking. Very savoury - very unlike Merlot stereotype.
The 2015 Angelus is a blend of 62% Merlot and 38% Cabernet Franc, picked from 22 September finishing on 14 October. "We found a nice homogeneity with the Merlot lots," I was told when I visited. "The old Cabernet Franc was very nice, but the younger vines were blended into the second label. This year, it is especially the Merlot that lends a lot of harmony to the wine. This year, the Merlot have some of the qualities of the Cabernet Franc, the precision and freshness. They give the generosity and sweetness." The wine was aged in 100% new oak at 11 degrees Celsius so they could add less sulfur to keep the freshness of the aromas and maintain the elegance of the wine. It offers a complex array of aromas such as black cherry, camphor, oyster shells and Japanese nori, beautifully defined and very focused. The palate is medium-bodied but powerful with layer of svelte tannins and a keen thread of acidity; layers of black fruit laced with spices, baking powder, mint and white pepper. It feels long in the mouth, insistently clinging for a minute after the wine has departed. Oh là là. This is a sexy, but compelling Angelus, fit for "007" and wine-lovers everywhere.
"This shows the purity of Angelus. I have never tasted a wine from here with such incredible clarity. Full body, full fruit and full beauty. Super silky tannins. A joy to taste. Makes you want to drink it. 62% merlot and 38% cabernet franc." - James Suckling
62% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc. First year Stéphanie de Boüard was in charge with father Hubert at her side. Extremely dark purplish crimson. Light nose but masses of sweet concentration on the palate. Nothing exaggerated. Just rather drying tannins on the end at the moment. Like Carillon d'Angélus, it has a slight bitterness on the finish but has clearly been made with no shortage of ambition. For the long term.
The 2015 Ausone is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot this year, cropped at 30 hl/ha between 29 September and 2 October for the Merlot and 8-10 October for the Cabernet Franc. Matured in 85% new oak, it has a very intense bouquet of small dark cherries, cassis, violets and incense, a hint of blood orange originating from the Merlot tucked underneath. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin, seamlessly integrated oak. It is an intense Saint Emilion with a superb arching structure on the finish, while maintaining sufficient freshness from start to finish. It grips the mouth a little more than some of its peers, implying that it will need longer in bottle, but it will be worth the wait. Patience advised for this great Ausone courtesy of Alain and Pauline Vauthier.
"A mindbinder of a wine with pure fruit and so much fine tannins and mineral character. It's hyper tight and super polished. The palate starts off slowly and ends with a bang. Amazing endless finish. What an energy." - James Suckling
Dark crimson with some purple. Real class and concentration on the nose - all vineyard, surely. Brisk yet very opulent. Lots of drive and no oak in evidence. Very fine. Very long.
The 2015 Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) is a blend of 90% Merlot picked between 25 September and 5 October, 10% Cabernet Franc picked on 5 and 12 October. It was cropped at 34 hl/ha. It has a very intense, quite opulent bouquet, just like the 2015 Pavie-Macquin from barrel, with fig-tinged red cherry fruit, hints of kirsch and glycerin. The palate likewise shows more refinement and class, the tannins fine and the acidity well judged. It has a fresh finish, though it just needs to muster a touch more tension and sense of energy right on the finish. Let's see what happens during its élevage, because it has the materials to turn into a very fine Saint Emilion.
Offers lovely richness, with a very caressing feel to the layers of warm plum compote and boysenberry confiture. Underneath all the fruit is a very fine-edged chalky thread, yet the feeling overall is velvety and lush. A beauty.—J.M.
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Nicolas Thienpont has been making this wine since 2009. 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 34 hl/ha yield. Very dark crimson. Brooding and vibrant on the nose. Sweet and fully ripe - almost Pomerol-like in its intensity. Big and bold. Even a bit brutal.
The 2015 Beau-Sejour-Becot is a blend of 80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 5-17 October, matured in 70% new oak barrels. It has a seductive and sensual bouquet with dark berries, blackberry and a subtle marine influence - kelp, perhaps brine. The palate is very smooth, satin-like tannin accompanied by a fresh line of acidity. Harmonious, almost sultry in style and yet there is plenty of freshness on the caressing finish. What a gorgeous Beausejour Bécot. To quote 1980s chanteuse Sade - this is a "smooth operator".
Very deep crimson. Edgy and charred. A bit too exaggerated. Hard work! Shades of the 1990s…
The 2015 Canon la Gaffeliere is a blend of 55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 19 September and 6 October at 37 hl/ha and matured in 55% new oak barrels. It has another "cool" bouquet, a common thread among Comte Stephan Von Neipperg's 2015s - very restrained at first, nicely focused and gradually revealing undergrowth and even a subtle charcoal scent (probably from the Cabernet Sauvignon). The palate is medium-bodied with black fruit laced with graphite and cedar, the Cabernet brothers really defining the character of this Saint Emilion and edging it towards say, more Figeac in style. This is a fascinating 2015, more cerebral than previous vintages that I have tasted over the years.
"Very tight yet shows wonderful cream and lemon rind texture. Full and powerful with walnut and spice character. Linear and focused. 55% merlot, 37% cabernet franc and 8% cabernet sauvignon." - James Suckling
Dark and winey, with currant paste and fig notes backed by slightly briary grip and an ample dose of toast. There’s good energy here and nice vivacity, despite the darker profile today, and this should easily round into form after the élevage.—J.M.
Only 55% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. 55% new oak. Purplish crimson. Quite heady. Lots of Cabernet leafiness (picked up to 6 October). Racy, sinewy. Far from a blockbuster.
The 2015 Canon is going to be a benchmark for this historic estate. A blend of 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc, it was cropped at 42 hl/ha between 14-25 September and 30 September until 2 October respectively. The alcohol level is an average 14.5% with a pH 3.78, matured for 18 months in 70% new barrels (except for one barrel of Cabernet Franc that they will bottle separately - just to see). Lucid in color, it has an intense bouquet that exudes extraordinary purity with scents of raspberry, wild strawberry, limestone and violets. It makes a huge impression. The palate is medium-bodied and multilayered with vivacious red and black fruit infused with minerals. The acidity lends the tension here from start to finish, but what this Canon possesses unlike the dozens of other vintages that I have tasted, is an overarching structure that will see it age in similar fashion to past classics such as the 1929, 1947 and 1964. It lingers very long in the mouth, the oak just surfacing a little on the aftertaste, although that will be subsumed with time. This estate has been in the ascendant in recent vintages under winemaker John Kolasa and now Nicolas Audebert, together with a benevolent growing season, has elevated Canon to a level that few could have predicted.
"This is the greatest red ever produced here, even better than the great wines of the 1950s and 1960s. Full body yet tight and reserved. Superbly refined tannins. Yet rich and flamboyant. Fruity yet salty and minerally. Electric finish. Stone and chalk undertones. A wonder of a young wine." - James Suckling
This delivers a pretty awesome display of blueberry, plum and raspberry fruit, both in its purity and depth, while the finish is carried by a very refined minerality. Large-scaled for sure, but seriously pure.—J.M.
72% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc. About 2/3 of the wine will go into the grand vin. 30% second-year barrels. 70% new. Sample 1, from a new Taransaud barrique: Very dark crimson. Very complete and juicy on the nose. Very rich and glorious! Luscious and spicy. Deep and rich. Quite savoury and structured. Very fine and tight. Dry finish. Not as much fun to taste in isolation. Doubtless a useful ingredient. Slightly drying end. Sample 2, from a new St Martin barrique: Very dark crimson. Very sweet and floral on the nose. Ripe and round. Lots to enjoy here! Real lift and very sophisticated. So long! Sample 3: And finally an official sample at the château: strong hint of iodine on the nose. Very luscious and supple at first and then with massive velvety tannins and almost dried-fruit sweetness and concentration. Bravo!
The 2015 Cheval Blanc represents the entire vineyard this year, since there is no Le Petit Cheval (two plots that did not meet requirements were not included in any blend). A blend of 45% Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Merlot, matured in 100% new oak, it has a very complex bouquet, subtle and tightly wound, very precise with dark berry fruit, hints of graphite, minerals and a hint of black pepper, perhaps a little spicier than recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with extraordinarily fine tannin. Beautifully balanced, perfectly controlled, this Cheval Blanc gently builds in the mouth, but remains strict and precise. The Cabernet Franc here is very expressive (though apparently the Merlot was showier prior to malolactic). This is an intellectual Cheval Blanc, thoroughly enjoyable, but it will need 10-12 years to really show its pedigree. A profound wine in the making, it will rank with the great wines of the past.
"A Cheval with a depth and finesse that reminds me of the 1998. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and amazing length and beauty. Such finesse and harmony. Super silky and classic for Cheval Blanc." - James Suckling
55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. 34 days of picking, 3 September - 6 October! Historic long vintage. No Petit Cheval, so 90% of the crop went into this wine. Very sweet almost balsam nose. Very distinctive! Really fine with lovely tannins. Lots of ripe fruit and masses of tannin as well as ripeness. The alcohol is only just moderate enough. Very dramatic without being at all exaggerated. Some red pepper powder notes. 14.35%
The 2015 Clos de la L'Oratoire is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc picked between 25-30 September at 45 hl/ha. Matured in 40% new oak, it has perhaps the most reticent bouquet at the moment, yet there is very pure dark cherry and blackberry fruit here, very "cool" aromatically and with several swirls of the glass it begins to find its voice. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin. There is good density here, very well balanced, very precise with perhaps the best tension on the finish that I have discerned in this particular Saint Emilion. This comes highly recommended.
Juicy and balled up for now, with a licorice note coating the plum and raspberry fruit flavors. Has a singed vanilla edge to the finish, though this shows signs of being absorbed by the bright fruit. Should unfurl nicely after the élevage. Likely a solid buy.—J.M.
90% Merlot, 40% new oak. Very dark crimson. Fresh salty nose. Really pretty sweet on the palate but there is (just) enough freshness. Not a big wine, but should give pleasure. Just very slightly drying on the end.
The 2015 Clos Fourtet is a blend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, and it was picked between 18 September and 12 October. It has a voluminous bouquet with sweet cassis and blueberry aromas, rather smudged with violets coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with rounded tannin, ripe and voluptuous, dark chocolate infusing the red and black fruit with a touch of mint on the structured, graceful finish. What a fabulous Saint Emilion from Mathieu Cuvelier and his team - Clos Fourtet with breeding and class. It deserves 5-8 years in bottle.
"This is very velvety and flamboyant with a sexy mouthfeel and rich and delicious fruit. Exotic and more-ish. All there. So much fun to taste." - James Suckling
Enticing, with raspberry, plum and boysenberry fruit taking hold from the start, followed by lively spice and black tea notes. The finish is threaded with a fine chalky spine. Focused and refined.—J.M.
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Lively and fresh on the nose. Great balance and fruit. Dry on the end but very classic.
The 2015 Figeac is a blend of 29% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc and 43% Cabernet Sauvignon that was picked from 21 September with the Merlot until 15 October with the Cabernet Sauvignon at 41 hectoliters per hectare. The Cabernet comes through strongly on the nose - classic Figeac in many ways - black fruit, a touch of cassis, pencil and a touch of rose petal. The palate is drop-dead gorgeous, its foundation a lattice of filigree tannin and perfectly judged acidity. It is very fresh from its vivacious start to its pencil-lead finish imbued with effortless grace. It is almost comical that naysayers decried that Michel Rolland would turn Figeac into some kind of fruit bomb. Head winemaker Frédéric Faye has overseen a tip-top classic Figeac without any of the greenness that occasionally affected older vintages, now boasting a level of precision up there with the very best in the Right Bank. It was difficult to find fault with this quite astonishing Saint Emilion and who knows what could transpire once it is in bottle.
"This is the most structured Figeac in modern times. I tasted wines from this estate from the 1920s and 1910s but this is something. Full and powerful. Pure and focused. Extracted Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc." - James Suckling
This has eye-opening power and depth, with a well of currant, fig and blackberry fruit that is supported by fresh tobacco and warm stones notes. Grippy through the finish, with a loam note adding more bass, this still stays focused and integrated.—J.M.
29% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon. Lovely combo of opulence and freshness. The Cabernet Sauvignon surely helps. Real drive and Figeac character. Real savour. Sappy. 14%
The 2015 Château Fleur Cardinale is a blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon matured in 100% new oak. It offers sweet dates and figs tincturing the dark cherry and blueberry fruit on the nose. Heady perhaps, yet there is more delineation here than I have discerned in other vintages. The palate is full-bodied with lush ripe black cherry fruit, blueberry and cassis coming in behind, fanning out towards a plush finish that just needs a little more precision to come through.
"This is tight and very focused with gorgeous blackberry, blueberry and stone aromas and flavors. Such purity of fruit here. Full and very, very polished. Compacted and compressed." - James Suckling
Shows very pretty fruit, with boysenberry and raspberry confiture notes rolling along, picking up hints of anise and fruitcake. There’s lush toast and velvety structure, but the energy is good enough to let it all play out harmoniously.—J.M.
Blackish crimson. Very sweet - too sweet? Smells of fermented blackcurrant pastilles. Vieux jeu! But there is a bit of freshness here. Some liveliness and drive on top of pretty ripe fruit.
The 2015 Château La Commanderie offers attractive black cherry, blackcurrant pastille and iodine scents that are well defined and neatly integrated with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, supple in the mouth, delivering plenty of sweet cassis and blueberry fruit, but without pushing the tannin too hard on the finish. This is a finely made Pomerol with class and sophistication.
De Boüard consults. Blackish ruby. Racy nose. Extremely sweet, ripe black fruits on the palate and then pretty drying tannins on the end. Not enough follow-through.
The 2015 La Dominique is a blend of 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon that was picked between September 18 and October 7 at 38 hectoliters per hectare; 10% went through "vinification intégrale" and then it was matured in 60% new oak. It has a very deep inky color. The bouquet is well-defined but broody at the moment, with blackcurrant, blueberry and even graphite scents, the latter deriving from the Cabernet component of the blend. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin on the entry. This errs towards black rather than red fruit, specifically black cherries and a touch of boysenberry. There is quite a rigid structure packed in behind the fruit, the spicy finish showing just a little more finesse than recent vintages. Although, I feel there is still some way to go in terms of reaching the full potential of the vineyard.
"This has crazy concentration of stone, blueberry and blackberry character. Full body, yet racy and toned. Exciting. Pushing the envelope here." - James Suckling
A toasty, fleshy style, with a broad swath of fig and blackberry paste flavors melded with dark ganache accents and a heavy tobacco note. A bit obvious in style, but this has range and length.—J.M.
Good freshness on the nose. Lively. A success in 2015.
The 2015 La Gaffeliere is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. It offers attractive black cherries, boysenberry and mulberry fruit on the nose. Maybe it would benefit from a little more delineation, but the aromatics are focused and in sync with the oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin. The acidity is pitched nicely here lending ample freshness and poise. Energetic and vivacious, this is one of the best barrel samples that I have tasted from an estate that was revered during the 1960s. Time for a comeback?
"A silky and pretty wine with plum and berry aromas and flavors. Full body, refined and silky. Super refined tannins. Goes on for minutes." - James Suckling
A textbook modern St.-Emilion, with a core bursting with ripe plum and raspberry fruit, and a long finish that pumps out licorice and bramble accents. The fruit is matched by the energy.—J.M.
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Meaty nose. Sweet and a tiny bit blowsy. A bit dry on the end. Pretty dramatic. If you seek impact, head for this hedonistic wine. I may have underscored it.
The 2015 La Mondotte is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc picked on 18 September and 7 October respectively, then aged in 80% new oak after a 33-day vatting. It has a dense, opulent and very concentrated bouquet that is driven by the super-intense Merlot, though as I mention in my accompanying introduction, the alcohol is contained and not at all apparent. The palate is very well balanced with rounded, supple tannin. There is a lot of weight in the mouth here, very focused and intense with blackberry and raspberry fruit, fine mineralité and tension, leading to an almost pixelated finish. This is an impressive La Mondotte for sure, though the 2015 Canon la Gaffeliere might offer more intellect.
"A phenomenal La Mondotte. The purity and intensity is so amazing. Full body, super fine and creamy tannins. The clarity is great. You can see that they have pulled back on the new wood and went for transparency. Wow." - James Suckling
Gorgeous, with dark blackberry and boysenberry fruit rippling along from start to finish, carried by mouthwatering anise notes. The long finish unfurls slowly, dripping with fruit while maintaining poise. Stunning.—J.M.
85% Merlot, 80% new oak. Blackish crimson. Exotic, opulent nose. Not the massive wine of yesteryear. Quite controlled and just about enough refreshment. Chewy tannins on the end. Not so much my style as its stablemates Clos de l'Oratoire and Canon La Gaffelière, but some will prefer it. Unlikely to be such good value though. Awkward tannins on the end.
The 2015 Larcis-Ducasse is a blend of 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet France, picked between 28 September and 10 October, 7-13 October respectively. Cropped at 37 hl/ha it is being matured in 500-liter barrels. It has an intense nose of raspberry preserve, boysenberries and an almost honeyed-like richness that thankfully retains freshness and delineation, when it could have been over-powering. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, a little grainy in texture, very well-balanced and graceful, gently building to a convincing, quite minerally, blackberry and wild strawberry finish. There is superb terroir expression here, an excellent Larcis-Ducasse that should offer 3-4 decades of drinking pleasure.
Lush, with velvety structure that lets the raspberry, plum and cassis fruit glide beautifully through the spice-tinged finish. Still very primal, but has length and fruit for days.—J.M.
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. 87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc. The lighter fruit on less clayey soils, about 40%, is aged in 500-litre casks. Intense but mellow nose. Rich and round on the palate with some zest. A light animal note gives this drama. But it's not forced. Just a slight vegy note on the end.
The 2015 Pavie-Decesse is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc matured entirely in new oak. The nose is backward at first and needed much encouragement in the glass, eventually revealing black cherries, crème de cassis, blood orange and almost honeyed aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with rounded tannin, a modest level of acidity, fine grained with a spicy finish that lingers with a peppery aftertaste. It is an assertive Pavie-Decesse, particularly at the end where it cannot compete with the 2015 Pavie in terms of clarity, but the components will come together with 4-5 years in bottle.
"This shows a power and finesse at the same time with silky and refined tannins and a pretty. Such precision and length. Gorgeous, racy." - James Suckling
Beautiful, with remarkably lush raspberry, plum and cassis flavors that glide over a substantial yet creamy structure. The finish has beautiful flow. Dressed for the ball, but stays refined thanks to minimal accessorizing.—J.M.
90% Merlot. Yield 17 hl/ha. Very old vines - average age 51 years. Very deep, glowing crimson. Juicy and succulent. Just enough fruit to overwhelm the considerable tannins. Good freshness. No water stress on the limestone plateau apparently. Should soften. Impressive! Bonsai stuff.
The 2015 Pavie-Macquin is a blend of 84% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 29 September and 17 October at 40 hl/ha. It has an almost decadent bouquet, perhaps more lascivious than the 2015 Larcis-Ducasse tasted alongside (as part of Nicolas Thienpont's "stable"), with fig-tinged red cherry and blackberry fruit, powerful but perhaps needing to muster a little more finesse? The palate is medium-bodied with a sweet core of citrus-fresh fruit. There is more nuance and precision here at the moment, fleshy and sensual with blood orange and cassis layered over the exuberant finish. It should be a delicious Saint Emilion this year, although I feel that the Larcis-Ducasse will have the sophistication and more longevity.
A pure style, with a bright cassis aroma and a core of plum and bitter cherry notes, allied to a lightly chalky spine. Long and refined, showing lovely cut and precision.—J.M.
Nicolas and his son Cyrille Thienpont make the wine for the Corre-Macquin family. 84% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweet and rich on the nose. Then marked acidity on the palate. Rather different from and fresher than some earlier vintages.
The 2015 Pavie is a blend of 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon that is matured in 80% new oak and 20% one-year-old barrels. It has a really quite glorious bouquet that is sensual and very well defined and pure. In my opinion, just dialing down the new oak even by 15% is allowing more personality and more terroir-expression to filter through. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe, lace-like tannins and a fine bead of acidity. It feels caressing and sensual in the mouth with superb mineralité and purity on the vivacious and sustained finish. This is unquestionably the best wine from Gérard Perse in 2015: a great Pavie with a very long life ahead, though I would cellar it for at least a decade to witness it in full flight.
"For me, this redefines Pavie. The depth and intensity and more important, the clarity, is really something. Full and ultra-fine tannins. It shows such great tannins and finesse. It is the essences of Pavie." - James Suckling
This delivers some serious fruit firepower, with blueberry, blackberry and plum notes that pump along authoritatively, pulling the creamy tannins along with them. Echoes of tobacco and violet emerge through the finish, along with a buried mineral accent. A contender for wine of the vintage on the Right Bank.—J.M.
60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. 37 ha. 36 hl/ha. No need for over-extraction because the grapes were naturally ripe. Picked until 9 October. Rich and silky. Blackish crimson. Massive build. Very sweet - but there is some freshness too. Very round tannins. More fluid and less astringent than many vintages. 14.55%
The 2015 Troplong Mondot is inky black in color. The nose was initially arresting with a carapace of toasty new oak, but it only takes several swirls of the glass for that to dissipate and leave scents of intense black fruit, crème de cassis, spice box and violets. It is verging on "heady" in style, powered along by that Merlot. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin, layers of ripe, sensual, lavish black fruit interlaced with black pepper and clove. The acidity binds everything together, maintains control through to the finish that fans out nicely. It leans towards the hedonistic style of Saint Emilion, but it is not pushed over the edge as I have found in previous recent vintages. What it needs to develop is just the charm and personality of the finest Saint Emilion wines this vintage.
"A luscious and rich red with blackberry, chocolate and walnut aromas and flavors. FUll body, very harmonious and super bright. All about clarity. A majority of merlot with some cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc." - James Suckling
This has some exotic ripeness, with açaí berry and loganberry fruit pumping through, carried by substantial brambly tannins and backed by a long, spice- and black tea–infused finish. Shows power and range.—J.M.
The 2015 Chateau Valandraud is founded upon Jean-Luc Thunevin's ever-reliable Merlot parcels, and this year the blend is augmented with 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a glorious and damn irresistible bouquet of crème de cassis, blueberry, crushed violets and a scintilla of citrus fruit, all beautifully defined and very precise. In 2015 it is determined to put a gap between itself and the Virginie de Valandraud. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, creamy in texture but not in the slightest cloying. The acidity is well judged with layers of caressing black fruit towards a finish for which I could only deploy the word - nubile. This will be a stunning Valandraud to savor over the next couple of decades, though it will be difficult to resist temptation in its youth.
"A fabulous Valandraud with verve and distinction. So much bright blackberry, mineral and dark chocolate character. Full and ultra-silky textured. Powerful and balanced finish. A joy to taste. Purity. Greatest Valandraud ever. 85% merlot, 10% cabernet franc and 5% cabernet sauvignon." - James Suckling
Displays beautiful fruit from the start, with cassis, raspberry and boysenberry notes moving together seamlessly, carried by a polished structure through the caressing finish. Seriously pure.—J.M.
New label. Very dark crimson. Almost roasted nose seems rather vieux jeu. Salty and sweet. Pushed to the limit. Sweet and sour impression. Not one of my favourite styles but I'm sure it will find favour with some palates. Awfully demanding and dry on the end. Though it certainly is concentrated.