En Primeur Bordeaux 2015

Graves - The wines with tasting notes


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[Add to shopping basket] Carbonnieux Rouge Graves £245 £200 - £240 91-93 - 93-94 17 90-93 90-93
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The 2015 Carbonnieux is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot matured in 30% new barrels for 15-18 months. It has a surprisingly high-toned and opulent bouquet, with kirsch and orange sorbet infusing the cassis and raspberry fruit. The palate is sweet and generous in style, harmonious in the mouth, with the structure only becoming apparent as it wends its way to the finish. Perhaps it just cuts away a little swiftly, but otherwise this remains a very well-crafted and highly enjoyable Pessac-Léognan.

Score: 91 - 93 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2020-2042

A very tannic young wine with lots of extract. Full body, chewy and rich. Needs careful barrel maturation. Could be the best red ever from here. Traditional style.

Score: 93 - 94 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Very deep crimson. Intense, brooding nose. Pretty dry but well constituted. Dry finish. Quite ambitious. Seems pretty Cabernet.

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2025-2038

Vibrant, with a tangy damson plum note lifting the dark currant and blackberry fruit, while subtle juniper and black tea accents line the finish. Shows good character.

Score: 90 - 93 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2015 Carbonnieux is laced with generous black cherry, plum, scorched earth, game, tobacco and cedar. The ripe, voluptuous fruit nearly buries the tannins, but they are very much present. This is an especially creamy, racy Pessac-Léognan built on forward fruit. The wine's textural balance and overall feel only add to the wine's considerable appeal.

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

[Add to shopping basket] Carmes Haut Brion Graves £480 £340 - £420 Low Stock 92-94 - 96-97 16 92-95 90-93
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The 2015 Les Carmes Haut Brion is a blend of 30% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon that was cropped at 25 hl/ha between 24 September and 11 October. This vintage includes around 45% whole cluster fruit and it went through a four-week ferment with just one pump-over and one pigeage, using a bladder inside the tank to submerge the cap (like an infusion tea). It is aged 10% in clay amphora and 90% in oak barrels, which includes 20% in Stockinger barrels, around 60% new wood. The alcohol degree is 14% and a pH of 3.7. "This vintage is very sensual because of the softness of tannin. I think it is very typical of Pessac," ex-Chapoutier winemaker Guillaume Pouthier told me. The nascent wine is inky purple in color. The nose is very closed and demands a lot of coaxing from the glass, reluctantly giving up black cherries, cassis and iodine scents. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, extremely pure, hints of black olive and Japanese nori infusing the black fruit. It has a very fine structure with good grip on the finish. The Cabernet Franc comes through strongly here, defining the start and finish and in some ways, it needs the Merlot to become more expressive to "fill in the gaps." Of course, that is precisely what élevage is for. This is an intriguing Pessac-Léognan that reminds me of Pomerol (Lafleur perhaps?). Difficult to judge now, I look forward to retasting this once in bottle, because it may well deserve a higher score.

Score: 92 - 94 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2025-2050

This shows incredible texture with the finest velvet mouthfeel. Super character of chocolate, walnut and orange peel. Great length and subtlety. Lots of whole berry fermentation and maceration gives the wine grace and fruit. Then it kicks in. Great power and structure at the end. Very unique. 45% cabernet franc, 25% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. 30,000 bottles made.

Score: 96 - 97 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Dark crimson. Sweet and thick. Not really enough lift and drive. Not obviously a Graves. Too heavy.

Score: 16 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2023-2035

Deliciously pure and velvety, with plum and blackberry sauce notes gliding along, enhanced by black tea and anise accents. Seductive in feel.

Score: 92 - 95 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

Once again, Les Carmes Haut-Brion stakes its place as one of the most distinctive wines being made in Bordeaux. The 2015 exudes richness, power and intensity. Layers of dark red stone fruit, cedar, tobacco, smoke and pomegranate build as the wine shows off its voluptuous personality. Les Carmes Haut-Brion stands out for many reasons, including its high percentage of Cabernet Franc, which is unusual in Pessac. In 2015, winemaker Guillaume Poutier also added a dollop of whole clusters to give the wine more aromatic lift. The use of whole clusters is of course quite common in Burgundy and the Rhône (were Poutier formerly made the wines at Chapoutier), but is very rarely seen in Bordeaux. This full-throttle Pessac will drink well for decades, but it also needs time to shed some of its considerable baby fat. The blend is 44% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon. Simon Blanchard is the consulting winemaker. Tasted three times.

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

[Add to shopping basket] Chapelle de la Mission (2nd wine of Mission Haut Brion) Graves £640 £350 - £520 91-93 91-93 94-95 16 - 87-89
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The 2015 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion is a blend of 30% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 9 September until 1 October, harvested early to preserve the freshness of the Merlot and taking time to pick the Cabernet at optimal ripeness. The bouquet is tightly wound at the moment, but precise, revealing blackcurrant, cranberry and hints of marmalade scents with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with quite sturdy tannin on the entry that exert a firm grip, but there is more than enough fruit to back that all up. Touches of cedar and tobacco surface towards the second half and there is a sustained, chalky note on the finish that ensures that this a great deuxième vin.

Score: 91 - 93 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2019-2040

30% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cool aromatics of cassis, blackberry, violet and cherry. In the mouth dark cherry fruits and a hint of summer pudding in the middle. The palate is silky and soft building to a smoky mocha finish. Lovely.

Score: 91 - 93 Albany Vintners

Very powerful and tannic yet salty and savory. Full body, dense and chewy yet polished and bright. Great second wine from La Mission. Only 30% merlot.

Score: 94 - 95 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

30% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Picked from 9 September to 1 October because of stress. Very rich, almost raisiny nose. Lots of (dried) fruity appeal. Pretty tough dried-grape impression on the finish. Not one of the most fluid wines from this stable! A bit of heat on the end. This wine may always be a bit of an anomaly.

Score: 16 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2025-2033

A deep, striking wine, the 2015 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion is laced with captivating scents of graphite, smoke, cured meats, herbs, melted road tar, leather and violets. Equally rich and ample on the palate, the 2015 exudes intensity, with a pedigreed expression of fruit and enough depth to drink well for a dozen or more years. All of the signatures of site come through in this beautifully crafted second wine from La Mission Haut-Brion. With time in the glass, the 2015 acquires finesse and nuance. Tasted two times.

Score: 87 - 89 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

[Add to shopping basket] Clarence Haut Brion (2nd wine of Haut Brion) Graves £900 £580 - £900 91-93 92-94 93-94 16-17 - 90-92
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The 2015 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is a blend of 57% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 8 September and 5 October. Compared directly with the La Chapelle Mission Haut-Brion, I find that this does not quite possess the same delineation at the moment. This is broodier and more introspective in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannin, layers of dark berry fruit tinged with tobacco and cedar, gaining weight towards the finish that fans out with a sense of conviction. This should turn out to be an authoritative deuxième vin that will probably be consumed in its youth, but clearly possesses the substance to repay ageing. Those with wise heads will afford it 5-6 years in bottle.

Score: 91 - 93 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2020-2040

57% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc. Weighty black fruits and tobacco. Fresh and structured with more red fruits on the palate and savoury notes. More power and silkiness than La Chapelle.

Score: 92 - 94 Albany Vintners

Racy and refined second wine with polished and pretty tannins. Full body. Pretty.

Score: 93 - 94 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

57% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon. Picked from 8 September to 5 October. Early picking because of stress. Some obvious Cabernet Sauvignon on the nose. Sweetness on the front palate and then marked fine tannins. Not nearly knit. Very inky finish. Not a charmer at the moment! Dried-grape impression on the end. But there's a little more grace than in the Chapelle de La Mission.

Score: 16 - 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2025-2034

A huge, ample wine, the 2015 La Clarence de Haut-Brion will give readers a very good idea of what the vintage is all about at the château. The flavors are dark and boldly sketched throughout. Violet, lavender, mint, spice, gravel and earthiness all add to the wine's distinctly masculine, brooding personality. Far from an easygoing second wine, the 2015 Clarence has the pedigree to drink well for a number of years, but it also needs time in bottle to come together fully.

Score: 90 - 92 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

[Add to shopping basket] Domaine de Chevalier Rouge Graves £460 £340 - £400 95-97 93-95 96-97 18 91-94 93-96
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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.

Score: 95 - 97 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2022-2055

63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Plenty of vivid savoury appeal on the nose, rich with black fruit, smoke and minerality. Intense with crisp black fruits, tar and smokiness and a long rich finish.

Score: 93 - 95 Albany Vintners

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.

Score: 96 - 97 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

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!

Score: 18 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2024-2045

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.

Score: 91 - 94 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2015 Domaine de Chevalier is one of the most striking wines of the year. Weightless, powerful and intense, the 2015 possesses crystalline delineation and precision from the very first taste. Bright red stone fruit, pomegranate, chalk and mint are some of the signatures. In the last of my four tastings, the Domaine de Chevalier showed tremendous richness and intensity as well. It will be interesting to see where the 2015 ends up. The future certainly looks bright. In 2015 the blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. The wine will see around 35% new oak. Stéphane Dernonourt and his team consult on the red. Tasted four times.

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

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