En Primeur Bordeaux 2016

The wines with tasting notes

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[Add to shopping basket] Aile d'Argent Dry Whites £648 - 89-91 - 93-94 - - -
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The 2016 Aile d'Argent Blanc is a blend of 52% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Sémillon and 2% Muscadelle. Philippe Dhalluin told me that there was more malolactic this year, around 27% of the wine going through complete malolactic fermentation. It has an attractive nose of lime flower, granite and orange blossom aromas, a touch of pineapple cordial developing with time. The palate is very well balanced with crisp acidity, tensile and precise with impressive focus. This is another a deep or powerful Aile d'Argent, but I admire the precision on display here.

Score: 89 - 91 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2019-2029

A fresh and fruity white with sliced-pear and apple character. Undertones of pineapple. Full-bodied, savory and round-textured wine. Delicious.

Score: 93 - 94 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Another success for the white wines of the Médoc, this is lovely with true freshness expertly pulled together under tension, contrasting with the roundness through the mid-palate. Clear, fleshy white peach and soft citrus is pulled in on the finish by a lick of wet stone. 53% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Semillon and 1% Muscadelle. 27% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation to ensure a creamy character to the body.

Score: 94 Decanter Maturity: 2018-2032

[Add to shopping basket] Alter Ego de Palmer (2nd wine of Palmer) Margaux £550 - 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] Angelus St Emilion £3,580 - 96-98 95-98 99-100 17 - 94-97
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The 2016 Angelus is a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc and 60% Merlot with much of the production zoning in on the more clayey soils that are ideal in a dry growing season like this. Picked from 4 to 21 October and matured entirely in new oak, it has a very intense bouquet with multilayered blackcurrant, blueberry and floral notes, very refined and precise, not unlike the 2010 in some ways, but I would argue this is more sophisticated. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, crisp acidity, symmetrical in terms of focus with just the right amount of sappiness on the saline finish. It is a superb Angelus from the de Boüard family, destined to give pleasure over many, many years. Once in bottle, I expect it to land towards the top of my banded scale.

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

A deep dark brooding nose. On the palate, precise black chocolatey fruits at the core with toasted notes, balanced and precise with impeccably ripe tannic structure. Long.

Score: 95 - 98 Albany Vintners

Incredible depth of fruit to this Angélus, which is dense yet also agile and energetic. There’s just so much dynamic fruit and tannin structure. Makes you want to taste and taste. What a young wine! We will see if 2016 is better than 2015. Both are great.

Score: 99 - 100 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Strong balsam notes. Rather luscious fruit and lots of life and interest. Real vivacity. In this wine, in this stable, although it has a drying finish, the fruit is so overwhelming that it distracts from the drying finish. Well done in a distinctly modernist style. Though the finish is a little weak. (17++ Points)

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2027-2042

One of the more surprising wines of the vintage, the 2016 Angélus shows a level of finesse that has not exactly been the norm here in recent years. Persistent and energetic on the palate, the 2016 Angélus boasts tons of nuance, with plenty of detail in all of its elements. A closing burst of Cabernet Franc-inflected floral and spice overtones give the wine an exotic flair. The 2016 is a fabulous Angélus. It's as simple as that. (94-97+)

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

A wonderful Angélus, rich in the character of this vintage. Stunning length on the silky tannins. This extends outwards, and the architecture is very much more linear than circular (as it is in some vintages), with a lovely freshness and power. I just love how effortless this feels, with deeply intense black fruits and a dried herb edge. The flesh isn't overt but absolutely present. Likely to take on some more weight over time and it will certainly take its time to reach its perfect drinking window. Wonderful sense of energy, power and intensity, yet it's so drinkable now. The 100% new oak is very well-integrated, a brilliant success. Blend is 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, with the lowest pH for many years at 3.7 (the 2009 more like 3.9), mainly because the wide temperature differences between day and night slowed down the maturing process and kept freshness.

Score: 97 Decanter Maturity: 2027-2050

[Add to shopping basket] Armailhac Pauillac £390 - 92-94 92-94 95-96 17 92-95 -
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The 2016 D'Armailhac is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot that was picked between 27 September and 14 October. The bouquet is very impressive, typical d'Armaihlac in terms of the opulence and flamboyance with lush black cherry and boysenberry fruit, a subtle floral note developing with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a crisp and tensile entry; there is immense purity here with some lovely blue fruit appearing on the finish. This is a d'Armailhac that is emboldened by unprecedented tannic structure that gives it real backbone and a sense of authority. Quite simply, this is one of the best wines of Château D'Armailhac that I have tasted, somehow not a million miles away from Grand Puy Lacoste in style.

Score: 92 - 94 Neal Martin, robertparker.com Maturity: 2021-2045

62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Expressive almost heady nose with creamy spicy fruits and mocha and some toasty notes. Robust plum and spices fruit, deep in the middle with a creamy texture, tasty and complete.

Score: 92 - 94 Albany Vintners

This is really tannic and muscular for d’Armailhac. Perhaps the most powerful ever. Full and chewy yet balanced and polished. Very, very impressive. Greatest ever?

Score: 95 - 96 James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Very dark, blackish purple. Perfumed and rather seductive. Pretty chunky and solid. Tannins more in evidence than in some (though admittedly this is my first Pauillac in a long run of wines). A long-distance runner. Very juicy. (17-)

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, Jancisrobinson.com Maturity: 2027-2045

Inviting, with notes of currant preserves and cherry sauce giving way to taut charcoal and singed alder accents. The chalky finish is a bit tight, but the stuffing is there. This has really good energy.

Score: 92 - 95 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

Such richness through the palate, with deep crushed blackberry notes alongisde soft coffee bean. I get hints of Petit Mouton here. The Mouton stable measure their tannins in weight, not IPT, and this year comes in even higher than 2010, 4.5g compared to 4g. You don't feel it because the grain of the tannins is so fine, but it is clearly going to age well, without any dryness. Incredible balance, with a pH of 3.55 giving freshness to the alcohol, and making these wines really not very difficult to taste. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, to be aged in 30% new oak.

Score: 93 Decanter Maturity: 2027-2040

[Add to shopping basket] Aromes de Pavie (2nd wine of Pavie) St Emilion £875 - - - - - - -
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