En Primeur Bordeaux 2016

Graves - The wines with tasting notes


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[Add to shopping basket] Carbonnieux Rouge Graves £305 - 92-94 - 94-95 16-17 90-93 90-93
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The 2016 Carbonnieux has a gorgeous, beautifully defined bouquet with pure black fruit, hints of sous-bois and pressed flowers, the new oak seamlessly integrated. What a nuanced and sensual bouquet! The palate is medium-bodied with plenty of ripe, black, graphite-tinged fruit, supremely well-judged acidity and a level of harmony that frankly, I have never encountered on a Carbonnieux. This is a brilliant wine from this Pessac-Léognan estate that has threatened to make a wine this good in the past.

Score: 92 - 94 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2021-2050

Big and juicy red with lots of fruit and tannins yet it’s not overdone. Full-bodied, chewy and intense. Lots of potential here. Better than the 2015?

Score: 94 - 95 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Very lively and fresh on the nose. Thick and sweet. Lacks a little bit of life but it's superficially flattering. Very drying finish. Lots of mass but not that much finesse.

Score: 16 - 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2024-2037

Lively, with a bouncy edge to the mix of plum, cherry and cassis notes. A light tarry echo shows on the finish, but this relies more on juicy acidity. Solid length.

Score: 90 - 93 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2016 Carbonnieux is positively delightful. Elegant, gracious and medium in body, the 2016 possesses exceptional finesse and nuance. Bright red cherry, white pepper and mint add a super-appealing upper register. Above all else, though, Carbonnieux speaks to total finesse. This is an especially refined wine for the appellation.

Score: 90 - 93 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

Succulent, beautifully fragrant and subtly spicy, easy to sink into and will offer many years of pleasurable drinking. Planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot and Carmenère.

Score: 92 Decanter Maturity: 2025-2040

[Add to shopping basket] Carmes Haut Brion Graves £690 - Low Stock 95-97 93-95 96-97 17 93-96 94-97
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The 2016 Les Carmes Haut Brion is a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 39% Merlot, with 13.8% alcohol and a pH of 3.55, the lowest acidity for many years. It was vinified in their Philippe Starck-designed "submarine" (this is what their aesthetically arresting winery looks like as it surfaces in the Bordeaux city suburbs!) with 48% whole berry fruit. Winemaker Guillaume Pouthier (ex-Chapoutier) showed me a large inflatable ring used to submerge the cap to create more of an "infusion" rather than a maceration. The 2016 is matured in 65% new oak, 30% one year old and 5% in amphora. It has a very pure, very attractive bouquet with ample blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and fresh fig aromas, a little more extravagant than some other Pessac-Léognan 2016s, yet it maintains impressive control and focus. It develops more pressed flower aromas with time. The palate is medium-bodied with tannins that gently grip the mouth, tertiary notes on the entry, fine acidity vis-à-vis the fruit, then a slight tarriness towards the broody black fruit on the saline, marine-influenced finish. It is an intriguing take on the vintage, classic in style like many others, detailed with impressive complexity. You know, it is not a million miles away from Lafleur in Pomerol, but in the same sense, it will require a decade in bottle to show what it can do. It is a new benchmark for this estate with big ambitions. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

Score: 95 - 97 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2026-2050

A scented nose with fresh fruit, blackcurrant and cassis, star anise and mineral hints. Cool and elegant, this is very well-made with an appealing fresh finish.

Score: 93 - 95 Albany Vintners

Extremely long and erudite with crushed stones, blackberries and blueberries. Hints of fresh herbs. Full-bodied, tight and polished. The balance and beauty are amazing. Salty and minerally. More polished than the 2015. Wait and see. From biodynamic grapes.

Score: 96 - 97 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Dark crimson. Sumptuous texture if not that much flavour at present. Very round and gorgeous with lovely Graves freshness on the finish. Very glossy and winning. Nicely managed tannins.

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2024-2040

This has the grippy, licorice-accented edge typical of the AOC, along with sappy kirsch and cherry paste flavors. Good energy supplies lift and cut through the finish, putting this half a step ahead of the pack.

Score: 93 - 96 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2016 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one of the most distinctive wines of the vintage. A wine of real depth and density, it possesses stunning richness and intensity in all of its dimensions. The high proportion of Cabernet Franc and the 50% whole clusters give notable aromatic lift, saline intensity and drive. Ample, full-throttle and unapologetically intense, Les Carmes Haut-Brion is once again superb. Tasted three times.

Score: 94 - 97 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

[Add to shopping basket] Chapelle de la Mission (2nd wine of Mission Haut Brion) Graves £800 - 91-93 91-93 92-93 17 - 90-93
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The 2016 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion is a blend of 36.5% Merlot, 21.5% Cabernet Franc and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon picked from 19 September to 14 October. Matured in 23% new oak, it has a very succinct bouquet with tensile black cherry and pressed flower aromas, subtle at first but soon gaining intensity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, very precise and focused with razor-sharp definition. This is one of the most sophisticated La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion releases that I have tasted from barrel and it bodes well for the future. I expect this will nudge past the 2015 once in bottle. Let's see!

Score: 91 - 93 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2022-2040

36.5% Merlot, 21.5% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep ruby purple. Rich, soft stone fruit nose with smoky hints. Intense and fleshy with soft-skinned plum fruits, hints of raisin and Victoria plum jam. Some tighter fruit in the middle. Mild slightly grainy tannins.

Score: 91 - 93 Albany Vintners

Minerals and blueberries with plenty of blackcurrant character. Medium body and silky tannins. Pretty second wine of La Mission.

Score: 92 - 93 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Sumptuous first-growth suavity on the nose. Sinews and dry finish but a little austere. Just slightly muscular. Dry but not drying finish.

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2023-2033

The 2016 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is a striking second wine. Medium in body, but certainly not lacking in depth, the 2016 speaks to balance and feel above all else. Gravel and floral notes lead into a core of intense dark red cherry/raspberry fruit, licorice and dried flowers. There is wonderful depth and density here, but also a refreshing sense of grace.

Score: 90 - 93 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

The success of La Mission is even more impressive as this was not an easy vintage for the Haut-Brion stable. They are close to the city here, and things got hot on their gravel soils. It is one of the main reasons that alcohols are lower than in recent years, because various plots shut down and stopped accumulating sugar. Although yields were high at 52hl/ha, the extra volume was mostly put towards the third wine. They have performed an amazing sleight of hand here, as La Chapelle has plenty of the signature of its brilliant big brother. There is less persistency but still plenty of juicy, ripe fruits and a toasty edge to the aromatics that is a classic signature of the house. There is a gap between the two wines, perhaps more than in some other years, but it's a space where you would be very happy to sit and enjoy the view. From a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36.5% Merlot and 21.5% Cabernet Franc, aged in 25% new oak. 3.6pH.

Score: 93 Decanter Maturity: 2023-2040

[Add to shopping basket] Clarence Haut Brion (2nd wine of Haut Brion) Graves £1,230 - 89-91 91-93 94-95 17 - -
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The 2016 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is a blend of 51.3% Merlot, 13.1% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2.6% Petit Verdot. It has a little more fruité compared to the La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion, yet not quite the same mineral tension or complexity. The palate is medium-bodied with supple black fruit, a fine line of acidity and gentle grip, but I would be seeking a little more personality and depth towards the finish. That said, it does have commendable freshness, but my money would be on the La Chapelle this year.

Score: 89 - 91 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2020-2032

More brooding on the nose than Chapelle, intense darker fruit. Blackberry, damsons and stones with complex flavours and sweetness but not too much. Quite measured with strict tannins finishing dry.

Score: 91 - 93 Albany Vintners

This is powerful and intense with lots of minerals, crushed stones and dark fruit. Dense and linear. Minerally and very energetic.

Score: 94 - 95 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Dark crimson. Intense nose that's very Haut-Brion. Fine, restrained and just a bit low key. But very classy fruit and oak. Would give a lot of pleasure quite young.

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2023-2038

As with La Mission Haut-Brion and La Chapelle, there is a beautiful signature here running from grand vin to second wine, a clear indication of quality. This is a little more intense than La Chapelle, which was pretty and floral, showing a firmer side with cassis and blackberry. A gorgeous, confident wine. It's very hard to think of a vintage where things are so well constructed and yet so soft. Clarence de Haut-Brion represents 31% of production, from a blend of 51.3% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.1% Cabernet Franc and 2.6% Petit Verdot aged in 33% new oak.

Score: 94 Decanter Maturity: 2023-2040

[Add to shopping basket] Domaine de Chevalier Rouge Graves £648 - 94-96 94-96 95-96 17 93-96 93-96
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The 2016 Domaine de Chevalier is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot picked between 4-21 October at 45 hectoliters per hectare, and matured in 35% new oak. Oh yes! This is a perfumed bouquet that unfolds beautifully in the glass with blackberry, cedar, smoke and a light marine influence, not unlike Japanese nori. The palate is medium-bodied with such fine tannins that it bought to mind Burgundy rather than Bordeaux. There is a grainy texture here, quite saline in the mouth with an entrancing sense of symmetry, very classic but not austere on the finish, with a long and saline aftertaste. This is an outstanding Domaine de Chevalier from the busiest man in Bordeaux, Oliver Bernard. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

Score: 94 - 96 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2025-2060

Lovely nose, plush and plump black fruit ripeness with spiced notes behind and a hint of toast. Round and opulent with an effortless mouthfeel but notable density in the middle. Structured and harmonious with a very long, pure fruit finish.

Score: 94 - 96 Albany Vintners

A dense and tight DC with minerals, crushed stones, cement and blackcurrants. Full, tight and racy. Gorgeous. Leaf and tobacco undertones. Complex.

Score: 95 - 96 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Concentrated and luscious. Real life and savour on the (at the moment slightly inky) end. One of the most youthful samples I encountered. Dry sandpaper end but perhaps it's a more honest sample than most? 17+

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2024-2048

Intense raspberry and boysenberry fruit drives along, flecked with anise hints and scored with roasted apple wood details. A touch toothy on the finish, with a loamy note, but the fruit takes an encore, which is a great sign for the future

Score: 93 - 96 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2016 Domaine de Chevalier is a wine of total precision and class. Today, the flavors are remarkably primary, while the tannins, unusually, are totally buried by the fruit. It will be many years before the 2016 is ready to show all of its cards, but it is a brilliant wine in the making. Dark red cherry, blood orange, mint, white pepper and rose petal infuse the strikingly delineated, vibrant finish.

Score: 93 - 96 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

Rich, round and beautiful, there really is distance between red and white this year. This has all the signature welcome and power of the very best vintages of Domaine de Chevalier, one of the 'clue' châteaux you should follow to track the quality of reds and whites in Bordeaux in any given vintage. Here you see that 2016 hits it out of the park with the reds. Rich damson, deep black cherry, slate, wet stones and curls of cold ash - this has beautiful complexity and texture. Stunning.

Score: 96 Decanter Maturity: 2027-2050

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