If you’re looking to put some lead in your pencil, 2016 Pauillac is the place to be. Over the past 20 years, I have tasted countless great Pauillac wines. But I have never been rocked from a vintage like this before. Read these reviews to get a sense of what I am talking about here. The best way to describe 2016 Pauillac is perfect!
In many ways, Pauillac is the quintessential Bordeaux wine. They combine a regal character with power, elegance, refinement and can also be somewhat strict. Pauillac is perhaps the most famous of the regions, due to 3 of the 5 First Growth wines coming from the appellation. If the 1855 classification of the Medoc was not enough to make the region famous, the often, high level of quality found here continues to win fans.
Every producer in Pauillac knocked it out of the park. There are 5 and perhaps 6 wines that could hit 100 Pts! This level of quality and consistency is unheard of. As good as 2010, 2009, 2005, 2000, 1996, 1982, 1961, 1959 and 1945 are, 2016 Pauillac vintage to own. More than just quality, what makes these wines so memorable is their character. To start with, all the wines show a beautiful, almost, inky, dark color. They have complex aromatics, even at this young stage. 2016 Pauillac wines are intense, concentrated, powerful, tannic and fresh. There is a beautiful purity of fruit here. The wines coat your palate with hedonistic pleasure. Clearly, there is a lot of tannin in the wines, but the tannins are so velvety, these wines feel like pure silk. They have the structure, raw material and disposition to age and develop into something magical. If you are a fan of Pauillac, this is the vintage to buy.
What made 2016 Pauillac the future legend it is going to become? Flowering, while late, took place under good conditions. Until June, 600-700 mm of water poured into the region. The gravel slopes and clay drained the excessive moisture during the rainy period while the soils retained ample water to carry the vines through one of the driest summers on record. Young vines clearly suffered. The water stress began slowing down the growth cycles, until the rains fell September 12 and September 13, which put everything back on track in the Left Bank
Lets go back to the summer for a moment. While excessively dry, the temperature was warm and not hot. You had an extensive amount of sunshine. The nights were cold offering a wide variance between day and night. The extended length of the growing season allowed ample time for the grapes , seeds, skins and stems to fully ripen. The harvest, which was later than usual took place with warm, sunny days and cold nights, allowing growers to pick at the opportune moment. For additional details on the 2016 Bordeaux growing season and harvest report: 2016 Bordeaux Harvest and Growing Season Report
This is the fifth in a series of reports covering the best 600 wines from the 2016 Bordeaux vintage. It is also the final report for the Medoc. The next report will be on the red and white Bordeaux wines of Pessac Leognan , which will be followed by the wines of Right Bank , Pomerol , St. Emilion and then Sauternes .
2016 Pauillac Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings
2016 Armailhac – Black cherry, cocoa, flowers and spicy plum aromas create the nose. On the palate, the wine is fresh, sweet and silky. The tannins are soft and the fruit feels good as it sticks on your palate. Medium/full bodied, long and harmonious, this is easily the best wine ever made at the property. Produced by blending 62% Cabernet Sauvignon , 28% Merlot , 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot , this wine reached 13.4% alcohol. The harvest took place September 27 to October 14. 92 – 94 Pts
2016 Batailley – Cassis and blackberries, creamy tannins, juicy, fresh berries, medium/full bodied with a blast of sweet, black currants in the finish, the wine has freshness, fruit and length and could be the best vintage in the history of the estate. Made from a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, this wine reached 13.5% alcohol. The Grand Vin represents 70% of the harvest. The picking took place from October 3 to October 10. This is one of the latest harvests in the history of the property. 92 – 94 Pts
2016 Clerc Milon – With quite a dark ruby color, there is chocolate-covered black raspberry, plum, and cigar box with a floral nose. The palate has a richness that I’ve never seen here before. Concentrated, polished, silky, sweet and fresh, the wine is long with real depth of flavor, ending with a salty complexity in the finish. This is a new level of quality for Clerc Milon. Blending 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% old vine Carmenere , this wine reached 13.6% alcohol with a pH of 3.58. The harvest took place September 26 to October 15. 93 – 95 Pts
2016 Croizet-Bages – Medium bodied, lean in weigh with salty tannins, this wine has a classic, old school Pauillac profile of lead pencil and cedar. 86 – 88 Pts
2016 Duhart-Milon – Floral, black raspberry, tobacco and wet earth scents create the nose. Medium bodied with an elegant palate, the fruit radiates with a fresh, sweet quality and ends with juicy, ripe dark cherries. The wine was made from a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot, which was picked September 26 to October 12. 93 – 95 Pts
2016 Fonbadet – With a fleshy, cassis, blackberry, licorice, espresso and smoke profile, there is far more richness here than usual. This is the third vintage for Michel Rolland at the property but it’s the first year where you really sense a difference. If the wood integrates this will be an even better wine. 90 – 92 Pts
2016 Grand Puy Ducasse – Full bodied, silky, long and fresh, the wine has depth and concentration along with all the ripe, sweet, juicy, fresh dark red fruits you need. The clean, vibrant, cassis and blackberry note in the finish sticks with you. The wine was made from blending 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. The is clearly the best vintage of Grand Puy Ducasse of all time! 92 – 94 Pts
2016 Grand Puy Lacoste – Dewy and succulent cassis, smoke, tobacco, cedar wood and blackberry aromas pop up with just an easy swirl or two. Refined, polished, elegant with a medium-bodied personality, ending with loads of sweet, dark fruit. This vintage from GPL has the structure to age, coupled with the silky-mouth feel that its loyal tasters enjoy. The wine was made from a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot. The harvest took place September 28 to October 13. 95 – 97 Pts
2016 Haut Bages Liberal – Lead pencil, cigar box, cedar and cassis give this a correct Pauillac profile. Medium bodied with polish to the tannins and round fruits in the finish, I really like the wine this year. The wine was produced from a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. 90 – 92 Pts
2016 Haut-Bages Monpelou – Straight forward, easy to understand, medium bodied with juicy cassis, spice and freshness. You can drink this on release or age it a bit. 85 – 87 Pts
2016 La Fleur Peyrabon – You quickly sense the smoke, tobacco and crisp cassis character of this wine. Medium bodied with roundness to the tannins, the wine leaves you with an earthy freshness in tihe finish. 89 – 91 Pts
2016 Lacoste Borie – Forward in style, there are spicy cassis aromas, soft, round textures and a sweet, fruitiness mid-palate making this an easy drinking, delicious and uncomplicated wine. 87 – 89 Pts
2016 Lafite Rothschild – Silky, luscious, refined with profundity and sophistication, the fruit has the concentration, depth, structure and tannins to fill your mouth with flavor, coating your palate with deeply energetic fruits. Balanced between concentrated and fresh, this is regal but not stuck up. There is no attitude here, just pleasure. While intellectual, this does not loft past you. Produced from a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot, the wine reached 13.3% alcohol with a pH of 3.7. The Grand Vin represents 45% of the harvest, which took place September 23 to September 28 for the Merlot and September 29 to October 12 for the Cabernet Sauvignon. 98 – 100 Pts
2016 Carruades de Lafite – The wine was made from a blend of 49% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 0.5% Cabernet Franc and 0.2% Petit Verdot, producing a showcase for sweet, ripe fruits, freshness with elegant tannins in a forward style. 91 – 93 Pts
2016 Latour – Each vintage has a signature and this one is a combination of volume, intensity, purity, complexity, freshness and silky, salty tannins. The wine coats your palate with mineral-driven fruit that stays with you for over 60 seconds. The finish shifts from fruit to stone and back to fruit again. This is elegance with refinement and it has the ability to age for decades. The wine was produced from blending 92.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7.1% Merlot, reaching 13.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.75. The harvest took place September 22 to September 30 for the Merlot and October 7 to October 19 for the Cabernet Sauvignon.Only 36% of the production was placed into the Grand Vin. 99 – 100 Pts
2016 Les Forts de Latour – Flowery with tobacco, blackberry and spice with an interesting hint of citrus, this is smooth and reserved with a juicy blast of cassis and plum in the finish. Classic but with softness and refinement instead of severity, give this perhaps five to eight more years before popping a cork. 93 – 95 Pts
2016 Pauillac de Latour – Fresh, sweet blackberry and cassis are right out in front. The wine is juicy, fresh, forward and silky. There are ripe tannins, well-designed textures and more fruit than usual for the estate. This should be released in five years for pleasurable drinking. Produced from a blend of 54.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38.9% Merlot and 6.5 Petit Verdot, this wine represents 26.5% of the production. 91 – 93 Pts
2016 Lynch Bages – Powerful, concentrated and long and with depth of flavor, this wine is rich and fat, like someone wearing a gold Rolex and a diamond pinkie ring. There is a refined, stern, masculine quality to the fruit with a finish that lasts and sustains the layers of fresh, sweet black currants. This is probably the best Lynch Bages since 1989/1990. Produced from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 0.4% Cabernet Franc and 0.2% Petit Verdot, this wine is aging in 75% new French oak barrels. Reaching 13.4% alcohol with a pH of 3.69, the picking took place September 28 to October 12 and the Grand Vin represents 65% of the harvest. 96 – 98 Pts
2016 Blanc de Lynch Bages – Crisp, fresh, citrus, flowers, lime and green apple notes, with a round, sweet, appealing, rich, yellow citrus finish are what you’ll find here. 92 Pts
2016 Lynch-Moussas – Cassis, tobacco, cedar and blackberry sensations offer freshness, sweet fruits and soft tannins. The wine is medium bodied and with a few years of age it will be ready to drink. This wine was produced from a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot and is 13.5% alcohol. 91 – 93 Pts
2016 Mouton Rothschild – Almost opaque in color, the wine is inky dark with a beautiful sheen to the edge. Blackberry, cassis, citrus, flowers, Cuban cigars and exotic spices are the first things you notice. Power balanced with stylishness, sweetness with acidity. This is pure silk and velvet in texture with the flavor of berries just picked off the vine. I timed the finish at over 60 seconds and this is just a baby! Imagine what this will be like when it’s mature! The blend comes from 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. This is the first time since 2004 that Mouton Rothschild has been able to include Petit Verdot in the blend. At 13.2% alcohol with a pH of 3.76, the harvest took place between September 26 and October 14. The Grand Vin represents 53% of the harvest. 99 – 100 Pts
2016 Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild – Showing a deep ruby color, the wine is silky, polished, rich and full bodied. There is a freshness and volume here, giving you a luscious texture and length on the palate, with ripe, sweet, berries and soft, silky tannins. It’s hard to believe this is only a second wine . With an uncommonly high percentage of Merlot in the blend, this wine was made using 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc and reached 13.3% alcohol. 93 – 95 Pts
2016 Mouton Rothschild Aile D’Argent Blanc – Fresh, juicy citrus fruit, flowers, honeydew melon and mineral essences get the wine going. There is ample yellow citrus peel and a judicious hint of honey, rounding out the sweet, juicy, pomelo, pineapple, vanilla and white peach. The wine was made from a blend of 53% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Semillon and 1% Muscadelle . 93 Pts
2016 Pastourelle de Clerc Milon – Medium bodied with a bit of minerality in the salty tannins, the wine is vinified to be soft, approachable, fruity, elegant and fresh. Pastourelle de Clerc Milon is not sold as a future, the wine is aged until it’s ready for drinking, which, on average, is five years after the vintage. 86 – 87 Pts
2016 Pauillac – Produced from the highest percentage of Merlot of any wine in the Pauillac appellation at 70% — with the remainder coming from 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reached 13% alcohol. The wine is dark, fat , ripe, sweet, fleshy and low in acid, especially for this vintage. It could be interesting and then, maybe not. If I was a betting man, I’d wager that the choice of names here, Chateau Pauillac, will eventually result in a lawsuit from the AOC. It hasn’t happened yet, but you never know. 87 – 89 Pts
2016 Pedesclaux – Still considered the new kid on the block in Pauillac, due to its recent reemergence from obscurity, this wine was made from blending 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, reaching 13.3% alcohol. Richly colored, the wine shows off its ready, saucy, crunchy cassis, tobacco, cigar box and lead pencil aromas with ease, together with a duvet of tannins, serious concentration, lift and length. As more of the vineyard becomes planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, this will keep getting better and better. 92 – 94 Pts
2016 Pibran – From a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is crisp, fresh and lively, combining sweet cassis, licorice and spice. Medium bodied, the finish has a piquant, bright, fruity note. 88 – 90 Pts
2016 Pichon Lalande – Deep, ark in color, the espresso, cigar box, tobacco, spice, forest floor, blackberry, cassis, lead pencil and dark red fruits make an incredible perfume. Pure silk and velvet, this is so sexy, it’s off the charts. Opulent, in fact, decadent, this wine tastes and feels so majestic I drank it all! This is the best vintage since the majestic 1982 and that is really saying something. Made from a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, it reached 13.32% alcohol with a pH of 3.76. The harvest took place September 20 to October 20. 98 – 100 Pts
2016 Reserve de la Comtesse – Medium bodied, forward, polished and fruity, the wine is silky, fresh and inviting. This is a new challenger in the quality race for the top second wine in Bordeaux. This year’s blend is unique with all the Petit Verdot from the vineyard and more Cabernet Franc than usual. 90 – 92 Pts
2016 Pichon Baron – Astounding color, it’s impossible to see though the wine in the glass. Rich, concentrated, multi-layered and multi-faceted, this is a powerful attention grabber. But it’s also a wine of finesse, freshness and purity. There is a force of flavor and meticulousness that has not been produced in previous vintages. This is one of those wines that coats your palate with precision, fruit and flavor. The tannins are there but they are so ripe and there is such a wealth of fruit, you just do not notice it. The finish, with opulently textured boysenberry, tobacco, dark chocolate, cigar and plum, lasts for a full minute or more! Blended from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, this wine reached 13.3% alcohol with a pH of 3.8. The Grand Vin represents only 45% of the harvest, which took place between October 3 and October 18. 98 – 100 Pts
2016 Les Griffons dePichon Baron – Just a stunning black-purple color, the wine is superb this year. Concentrated layers of luscious fruits, the structure is forthright and graceful with round, creamy tannins and a long, black currant, spice and licorice-filled finish. Hard to believe this wine this is not a classified growth in this vintage! The wine was created from a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Merlot. Les Griffons de Pichon Baron is produced from a vat selection that is tasted before the final blending. 92 – 94 Pts
2016 Les Tourelles de Longueville – Spicy with cedar, tobacco and black currants, this is dripping with juice, and with more flesh than usual. There is a freshness to the sweet fruits on the body and in the finish. Les Tourelles de Longueville is produced from a parcel selection blend of 58% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. 89 – 91 Pts
2016 Pontet Canet – Cassis drenched flowers, lead pencil, clay, spice, blackberry and cigar box aromatics win you over immediately. Purity and freshness, balance and harmony with length and character, this wine sneaks up on you — it tastes and feels wonderful. The finish keeps going, building in intensity and flavor, moving from red to black fruits, leaving you with red berries, spice and minerality. The tannins are silky, the fruit is sweet and there is more than ample lift here. The wine just does not quit. Produced from blending 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, the wine is aging in 55% new French oak barrels, 35% in amphora and the remainder of wine in one year old casks. The harvest took place September 28 to October 12. 97 – 99 Pts
If you have any questions or comments, please post. Stay tuned because our next detailed look at the 2016 Bordeaux vintage will focus on the Pessac Leognan appellation.