By now, most of the people reading this article on 2016 Bordeaux have heard about the vintage with varying, but mostly positive points of view. 2016 Bordeaux has been called The Vintage of the Century from some writers. Others have called it a miracle vintage. I’ve read where it’s been declared the best year since 1961. Is any, or all of that true? No. But it’s a year of stunning quality and there are numerous properties that have made the best wine in the history of their estate!
You can read details about the harvest and growing season: 2016 Bordeaux Harvest and Growing Season Report If you’re on your way to Bordeaux, and you’re wondering where you can taste all the best wines, please see : All the Places, Dates and Times to help you taste 2016 Bordeaux En Primeur
Back to the wines. What are they like? After tasting about 200 different wines so far, I have a reasonably good idea about the character and style of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage.
Step in inside the tasting room and grab a glass, or a dozen glasses, because the first thing you’re going to do is look at the wine. Viewing all those glasses lined up and it’s impossible not to be impressed by the depth of color in every sample. Almost every wine is inky, dark, if not opaque. The rims are often purple. The lighter wines are at least dark, deep ruby colored.
The nose of these wines are going to vary, depending on the vineyard, appellation, harvest date and oak program. But across the board, the wines are aromatic, fresh, clean and display ripe, dark, fruits.
On the palate, is where the real action takes place. There is a lot of volume here. The tannins are quite high, the pH is often low, but it’s the sweet, ripe, fruits and their freshness that stays with you. Even with all the tannin and higher acidities, because the tannins are so silky, and the fruit is so sweet, you never notice them. The 2016 Bordeaux wines are also lower in alcohol, so the wines are often quite in balance.
That’s for the red Bordeaux wines. Dry white Bordeaux wine is not as successful this year. The grapes are ripe, sweet and aromatic, but there is s lack of acidity in many wines this year. At least for me, 2016 Bordeaux is the most fun I’ve had tasting in barrel since 2009! There is a wealth of great wines here. In fact, by the time I’m done tasting over 500 samples, based on what I’ve tasted already, my guess is, there will be between 10 to 15 wines that merit 100 PT scores.
Across the board, in every appellation there are stunning wines! But, there are many wines, at least in my view that are better in 2015. Comparing 2016 and 2015 is a fun exercise. 2015 is opulent, sexy and hedonistic. 2016 is powerful, fresh, ripe, straight forward and will age for decades. There are high points in every appellation but in the Northern Medoc, St. Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephe and close to off the charts this year! The Cabernet Sauvignon is just sublime, and so is the Petit Verdot, which is used in higher portions this year. Merlot was also successful. But it is not only the Left Bank that produced beautiful wine this year. There are several estates in St. Emilion that made great wine! Pomerol has its stars too, with one estate making the best wine in the history of the property! You can also find several strong wines from Cotes de Castillon and in the Cotes de Bordeaux as well.
When you ask the producers about the key to successful vintage, you hear more often than not, the flowering was even. Following the long deluge of rain through June, after the vineyards dried out, when things moved to drought like conditions, stressing the young vines, rain fell at exactly the right moment, energizing the vines. However, the cool to cold nights added the desired freshness and the extremely long harvest, which set records at many vineyards, which took 2, 3 or even 4 weeks to complete picking as the icing on the cake.
The great terroir, able to offer draining during the wettest first 6 months of the year in ages, coupled with the unique ability to retain water, in extremely dry conditions made prodigious wines this year! It’s not just the famous properties that made great wines. Several petit chateau also produced delicious juice, which should sell for a song!
Will consumers buy 2016 Bordeaux? I’m sure this is not news, but as the wine is there, as well as the interest, now, it comes to the price. Vintages when the First Growths excel, and all the 1855 Classified Growths do great, tend to become expensive. If history has taught the market anything, it should be that consumers are not interested in paying high prices En Premiur. Everyone in the chain needs to share in the profit to make this work. The chateaux, negociants, merchants and consumers all need to make something. I am really digging many of these wines. It’s not quite 9:30 am, and my first visit of the day is about to start. My fingers are crossed, hoping the chateau get it right and price theses at the correct level to get consumers involved. It’s about time!