En Primeur Bordeaux 2016

Margaux - The wines with tasting notes


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[Add to shopping basket] Alter Ego de Palmer (2nd wine of Palmer) Margaux £560 - 89-91 91-94 95-96 16-17 - 90-93
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The 2016 Alter Ego de Palmer is a blend of 40% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot this year (a little less Merlot than usual). That exuberant Merlot drives the aromatics along, almost citrus-like with scents of blood orange and blueberries soaring from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin on the entry, quite sharp acidity at first, quite structured for an Alter Ego with a grippy finish. I think the new oak will bind this together, this sample coming from a used barrel.

Score: 89 - 91 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2021-2036

40% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot. Packed with blackberry jam, soft black stone fruits with crushed rocks. Some chalkiness to the mid-palate. Very ripe and luscious with glycerol and a cocoa powder dry finish.

Score: 91 - 94 Albany Vintners

This is very concentrated yet soft and fresh in texture. Full-bodied and round and mouth-filling. So impressive how it fills your mouth yet remains fresh. It’s so framed.

Score: 95 - 96 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot. Very bright dark glossy crimson. Very rich and sweet and approachable. Round and fresh. Meaty. Very, very sweet start and then chewy. Lots going on here but not that much tannin, much less than in most other 2016s. Very juicy. 13%

Score: 16 - 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2022-2030

The 2016 Alter Ego represents a fairly big departure is style from what has been the norm in recent vintages. Bright red stone fruit, tobacco, flowers and herbs. The combination of less Merlot and naturally lower alcohol are among the factors that have contributed to an especially silky, perfumed Alter Ego built on considerable finesse.

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

Palmer lost 20% of its crop in the spring, and the Merlot was affected more than the Cabernet so there is only around half as much Alter Ego as normal. The yield here is 29hl/ha, so a lot less than most of Margaux, mainly due to vineyard rebalancing after moving to biodynamics and the spring crop loss. The harvest start date of 3rd October was the latest on record, following on from a very long, slow ripening leading to lots of tannins (71 IPT) which although soft and integrated are at a higher level than 2015, while the 3.65pH remains the same. Late harvests encourage elongated tannins, and Thomas says he has never seen such sophistication in the construction of the wines here, so different from the 2015. As with Palmer, Alter Ego has a highly aromatic nose, majoring here on damson and blackberry. Tasted on an overcast Friday morning and yet it sings, with the most beautifully soft expression of black fruits. It's a different style to others, the 13% ABV being extremely low for this amount of Merlot. Beautiful.

Score: 93 Decanter Maturity: 2023-2040

[Add to shopping basket] Boyd Cantenac Margaux £395 - - - 94-95 16 - -
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Extremely dense, fruity and full-bodied, yet it’s also tight and very refined with silky tannins and a flavorful finish. This is something in the making. Best in years.

Score: 94 - 95 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Very dense glowing crimson. Rather farmyard aromas - are we in Chianti Classico? Masses of extraction and slightly syrupy texture but not enough freshness. Out of balance.

Score: 16 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2025-2037

[Add to shopping basket] Brane Cantenac Margaux £630 - 96-98 91-93 95-96 17 90-93 90-93
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The 2016 Brane-Cantenac is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenere picked from 22 September until 17 October (the tiny parcel of Carmenere picked three days later). The yields came in at 51 hectoliters per hectare and it is matured in 75% new oak and 25% one-year-old barrels, the final alcohol level 13.3%. It has a beautifully defined, very detailed bouquet with mineral-rich black fruit laced with cedar and graphite notes, living up to its nom de plume as the "Pauillac of Margaux." The palate is simply the best that I have ever tasted at the estate, without question. This has presence, but also weightlessness, filigree tannin and perfectly pitched acidity, with real intensity and drive. The tension here is outstanding and the persistence is incredibly long. It is not the showiest of all the 2016s by a long stretch, and yet it is everything you could possibly want from a Margaux. Like Beychevelle this year, the 2016 Brane-Cantenac puts recent vintages in the shade, thanks not only to the growing season, but also a new punching down system in their gravity-fed winery that was completed in 2015. The 2016 is a benchmark against which future vintages will be compared.

Score: 96 - 98 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2026-2060

Exotic nose of ground coffee roast and blackcurrant jam. Rich and full-bodied with deep cherry fruit, blackforest gateau. Palate-staining, firm and ripe, this is big but balanced.

Score: 91 - 93 Albany Vintners

This is really strong from Brane-Cantenac this year with toned muscles and beautiful fruit. Full-bodied, chewy and polished. Shows wonderful intensity and density yet remains reserved and very tight. Very impressive from here. Grabs you. One of the best ever from here.

Score: 95 - 96 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Dark purplish crimson. Neat, unforced, smells fully ripe. Salty finish and a fine spread across the palate. Bone dry, but not too drying, finish. Cool, unforced and sophisticated. Very competent indeed.

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2026-2044

Shows a coffee edge, along with tobacco and bay notes that meld steadily into the core of steeped plum and black cherry fruit. The fleshy finish lets the bay element take an encore. A touch old-school.

Score: 90 - 93 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2016 Brane-Cantenac is terrific, and also a worthy follow-up to the 2015, although it naturally reflects the very different personality of the year. Dark red and purplish fruit, mocha, spice and leather infuse this super-expressive Margaux. Vivid and intense, but with a perceptible feeling of translucent finesse, the 2016 is wonderfully complete and expressive. It also has quite a bit of potential to grow from there. Tasted three times.

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

Gorgeous campsite woodsmoke effect on the nose and the effect, as is so often the case with Brane, is that their use of oak ageing is extremely cleverly thought out. This is a luscious wine with rich, deeply layered fruits and gentle spices, all set against well brushed, caressing tannins. This is a great vintage for this property, so effortless. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere (now old enough at 10 years, and successful enough due to the late harvest, to finally make it into the grand vin). Excellent.

Score: 94 Decanter Maturity: 2027-2050

[Add to shopping basket] Cantenac Brown Margaux £474 - 92-94 92-94 93-94 16 91-94 89-92
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The 2016 Cantenac Brown comes from a Margaux estate that has upped its game in recent years. It has an intense bouquet with floral aromas filtering through the black cherries, cassis and boysenberry notes, in an odd way almost Saint-Emilion in style. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin. Silky smooth with very well-judged acidity, there is a sorbet-like freshness imbued into this Margaux and it just glides across the palate towards the quite sensual finish. This is certainly equal to the impressive 2015 Cantenac Brown.

Score: 92 - 94 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2022-2045

Deep purple with a discreet but refined nose of black cherry and a touch of smoke. Moderate weight of ripe fruit and charm. Lovely overall balance and elegance.

Score: 92 - 94 Albany Vintners

A young red with lovely density and richness defined by currant and light coffee-bean character. Medium to full body and lightly chewy tannins. Lots here in the glass.

Score: 93 - 94 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Dark crimson. Relatively high VA. Thick and sweet but with a green edge. Not the most generous nor the ripest Margaux. Falls away pretty suddenly on the palate. An attempt at glamour certainly. (16+)

Score: 16 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2025-2040

Focused, with a light brambly frame around the juicy plum and blackberry fruit. Fresh bay and singed juniper notes line the finish. Nicely integrated and showing solid range. Well done.

Score: 91 - 94 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

The 2016 Cantenac Brown is a powerful, intense wine, but it also comes across as a bit monolithic. There is plenty of depth to the inky red cherry, raspberry jam and spice notes. The tannins are present, but they are nearly buried by the sheer intensity of the fruit. Today, the 2016 comes across as very raw and fruit-driven. It will be interesting to see how things develop.

Score: 89 - 92 Antonio Galloni, www.vinousmedia.com

This is an elegant and beautifully balanced wine with plush damson aromatics and a punch of fruit that is totally captivating. The soft but extensive tannins of 2016 are fully on display, lush and well-worked. There is some charcoal and liquorice sitting underneath, with the wet stone minerality that always elevates a wine up to the next level. Very good.

Score: 94 Decanter Maturity: 2027-2050

[Add to shopping basket] Dauzac Margaux £380 - 90-92 88-90 92-93 16 89-92 -
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The 2016 Dauzac is a blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot picked at 45 hectoliters per hectare, picked 13 September and over the next 21 days, which is the longest ever at the property according to estate manager Laurent Fortin. The bouquet is tightly wound at first, then gently unfolds to reveal blackberry, briary, pressed flowers and light minty aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin on the entry, quite firm in the mouth at first, but there is plenty of fresh, predominantly black fruit locked into this Margaux. It is taut and linear with a grippy finish. This is a strong follow-up to the 2015, perhaps without the same flair as the previous vintage, but I am certain that it will "loosen its tie" during élevage.

Score: 90 - 92 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2023-2040

Deep colour with a modern plush nose, extremely ripe with beefy fruit and thickset tannins leading to a dry slightly astringent finish.

Score: 88 - 90 Albany Vintners

Tight and chewy with polished tannins and an extremely deep and dense center palate of fruit. Minerally and intense. Precise and very fine. A nice follow-up after the excellent 2015.

Score: 92 - 93 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Very deep purple. Some sweet coconutty oak in evidence, which I find a bit off-putting. Then a bit green on the finish. Evidence of some make-up here? Not a comfortable whole.

Score: 16 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2026-2038

There's nice intensity here, with a beam of cassis and cherry preserves racing through, flecked with light anise and bay notes. Fresh acidity is nicely embedded on the finish. A restrained style, and sneakily long.

Score: 89 - 92 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

Tucked into the southern tip of the Margaux appellation in the commune of Labarde, home to Dauzac, Siran and Giscours, there are some increasingly interesting things happening here. This, for me, is one of the few Margaux that is clearly better than its 2015 counterpart. Planted to 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, they have introduced a second wine for the first time in 2016 and unveiled new cellars, both helping to focus on upping selection for the main wine. You get a full and frank attack of powerful black fruits, tannins with an astringency and life that is extremely promising, and acidity that absolutely accompanies and plays off the other components. There is a slatey minerality and salinity on the finish. A wine to watch under the direction of Laurent Fortin.

Score: 93 Decanter Maturity: 2025-2045

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