Pauillac is the appellation of the 2017 vintage! The wines are just great. At the top end, some of the wines are not that far off the extremely high level of quality found in the 2016, 2015, 2010 and 2009 vintage!
The frost that you have heard so much about did not work its way into Pauillac. The warming effect of the Gironde estuary and the gravel slopes kept the frost in check. The dry summer with its cool days slowed the growing cycle down a bit.
June was warm with some much-needed rain. From June 8 to June 22, several days hit at least 31 degrees Celsius. Temperatures spiked June 13 to June 22, with highs hitting over 37 degrees!
July was warmer than usual, and so was August. With little rain, a lack of sun and warmer than usual conditions, the harvest was slated to be early. For a detailed look at the weather and harvest that shaped the 2017 Bordeaux growing season 2017 Bordeaux Vintage and Harvest Report
Of course Cabernet Sauvignon is always the key grape in the Medoc, but this year it occupies an even higher percentage of the blend. You can see that when you look at the blends for many of the wines.
As for the style and character of 2017 Pauillac, the wines are bright, with a lean to the deep red fruit side of the style range. For the fruits, think more cassis than cranberry, as there is a fabulous sweetness to the fruit.
It is also important to note that aromatically, the wines are very complex.
The tannins are ripe, soft and the most importantly the wines feel great. This is important because that makes it hard to notice the higher levels of acidity found in this vintage. Alcohol levels are moderate.
While 2017 Pauillac will in most cases show well young, the vintage should also have the ability to age for decades, at the top estates
The frost that you have heard so much about did not work its way into Pauillac. The warming effect of the Gironde estuary and the gravel slopes kept the frost in check.
The dry summer with its cool days slowed the growing cycle down a bit. This is an important factor with the vintage, as it was slated to be an early year, and the fruits were not fully developed for an early vintage, so the slowdown helped the grapes reach a better level of maturity.
June was warm with some much-needed rain. From June 8 to June 22, several days hit at least 31 degrees Centigrade. Temperatures spiked June 13 to June 22, with highs hitting over 37 degrees!
July and August were cool and dry, plus there was a general lack of sunshine. While this helped slow things down, the vintage was set to be an early harvest and veraison came a little early.
The September rain helped add nourishment to he vines after the dry summer. The harvest for those that waited tok place in good conditions. The grapes were small, with thick skins and good skin to juice ratio.
For a detailed look at the weather and harvest that shaped the 2017 Bordeaux growing season 2017 Bordeaux Vintage and Harvest Report
The wines are bright, but the tannins are ripe, soft and feel great, so you do not notice the high acidity. The are good levels of concentration in the wines as well.
Alcohol levels are moderate. Cabernet Sauvignon steals the show! The late ripening grape variety had enough hang time to develop to maturity. Aromatically, the wines are very complex.
While 2017 Pauillac will in most cases show well young, the vintage should also have the ability to age for decades, at the top estates.
The following 2017 Pauillac wines were tasted in non blind conditions in Bordeaux from March 22-April 12. With the exception of the First Growths, I was able to taste most of these wines multiple times, with consistent results.
2017 dArmailhac – The opening act is black fruit, juicy plums, smoke and just a tip of licorice in the background. Intermission finds soft, fresh, sweet blackberries while a salty minerality lingers in the wings. The wine is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The harvest took place from September 6 to September 29. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Batailley – Cigar box, tobacco, crème de cassis and forestry create the aromatic profile. On the palate, the wine offers soft, polished, dark red fruits, spice, blackberry and tobacco. Nearly forward in style, this is a charming Pauillac that will age for at least 2 decades with little effort. The wine was made from blending 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, reaching 13.6% alcohol. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Lions de Batailley – Medium bodied, open, soft, early drinker, with ripe black currants, herbs and tobacco from start to finish. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Clerc Milon – Minerality and salty tannins heighten the natural sweetness of the deep, red fruits. The wine has vitality, gentleness and the structure to age. The finish delivers ripe cassis, blackberry, licorice and even more rock and stone. Certainly this is one of the best vintages for Clerc Milon. An arrangement of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% old vine Carmenere, the wine reached 13.2% alcohol with a pH of 3.64. The harvest took place September 13 to September 29. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Croizet-Bages – Medium bodied and bright with crunchy red fruits, this wine concludes with a tart, sharp, cranberry, herb and cassis endnote. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Duhart-Milon – A medium-bodied wine with an emphasis on the stylish black raspberry and cassis core, there is softness, sophistication and purity with refined tannins and tender fruit in the finish. The wine was made from a meld of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Fonbadet – Cedar, tobacco and crisp, bright, fresh red fruits lead off the nose. Medium bodied, soft textured, forward and easy drinking, this wine has charisma and early drinkability. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Grand Puy Ducasse – Tobacco, cedar, licorice and ripe, softly textured, bright fruits create the personality here. The wine is medium bodied with salty tannins and a forward finish. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Grand Puy Lacoste – A fresh, lively, vibrant and classically styled wine with bright, crunchy cassis, citrus, tobacco, earth and cranberry notes. The wine is medium/full bodied and seems to be holding much of what it has to offer in reserve. This is one of the few wines this year which will need cellaring before it is ready to drink. Made from blending 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, it reached 13.3% alcohol. The harvest took place September 15 to September 29. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Haut-Bages Monpelou – A forward, easy drinking, soft, uncomplicated, medium-bodied pleasure from Pauillac meant for early drinking. 84 – 86 Pts
2017 Haut Batailley – With a good depth of color, the wine shows a nice purity of juicy cassis while a leafy olive and pepper component keeps you interested throughout this full bodied, crunchy and classic experience. The tannins are a bit uncompromising right now but give the wine time, and it will prove to be worth the wait. This is the debut vintage from the new owners, the Cazes family. The bottle was also sport a new, updated label design. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Lafite Rothschild – This most graceful of the First Growths is brimming with luster, tranquility and refined textures. The wine glides in discreetly, slowly building intensity as it expands on your palate while quietly and effortlessly moving from sweet red fruits to darker plums and cherries. There is a flawless ascendancy here with length, purity of fruit and balance. This is a wine of finesse. Produced from a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Merlot and .5% Petit Verdot, the wine reached 12.8% alcohol with a pH of 3.75. The Grand Vin represents 40% of the harvest, which took place September 11 to September 29. 96 – 98 Pts
2017 Carruades de Lafite – Sweet cherries and cassis enhanced by brushed tannins and earthy nuances, this is soft, forward, fruity and drinkable upon release. The wine was made from blending 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Latour – Showing a caliginous hue, the wine is concentrated, full bodied, powerful, firm and graceful, coating your palate with layers of ripe, sweet, dark red fruits with salty tannins. Even with all the acidity it is impossible not to enjoy the ample sweet fruits, firm, ripe tannins, complexity and incredible length, with purity of fruit, that lingers. It’s a Latour that should be a pleasure to taste between 15-20 years after the vintage, which is fine since you’ll probably be waiting until 2027, give or take, until it’s released. The wine was made from a blend of 92.1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.8% Merlot and 0.1% Petit Verdot, reaching 13% alcohol. The harvest took place starting with the Merlot September 11, finishing with the Cabernet October 4. 97 – 99 Pts
2017 Les Forts de Latour – Forest floor, cedar, tobacco leaf and fresh, dark red berries open the wine. Ripe, sweet tannins, juicy, fresh cassis and plenty of fruit and cigar wrapper in the zesty finish to satisfy a discerning consumer. This wine has a lot of lift but the tannins are soft enough, that you should be able to enjoy this in a few years, and it’s going to age well too. The wine was produced from blending 65.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and .08% Cabernet Franc. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Pauillac de Latour – Kicking it off with a mix of cassis and lead pencil, this Medium/full-bodied wine is forward and fruity with freshness, lift and soft textures in a red berry finish. You can think of this as a baby Latour. The wine was produced from a blend of 52.9% Cabe 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Lynch Bages – Dark in color, the wine jumps with fresh, cassis aromatics tinged by tobacco, earth, smoke and a touch of vanilla. Crunchy, crisp and showing sweetness and peppery tannins, this full bodied, concentrated wine will need at least a decade before it hits it hits its stride. This is a very strong vintage for Lynch Bages and could become much better as it softens and develops. Produced from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, reaching 13.2% alcohol with a pH of 3.72. The Grand Vin was made from 65% of the harvest. 94 – 96 Pts
2017 Echo de Lynch Bages – Medium/full bodied splash of juicy, cassis made even better with cedar and tobacco notes. There is depth on the mid palate and a juicy, dark currant finish. This is perfect to drink while waiting for its big brother Chateau Lynch Bages to come around. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Les Hauts de Lynch-Moussas – Medium bodied, lighter styled Pauillac with a forward, correct approach offering, an easy drinking, cassis filled wine with no hard edges. 85 – 87 Pts
2017 Lynch-Moussas – Dark cassis aroma is the first thing you notice. From there, the cedar, tobacco and leafy cigar wrapper notes kick in. The wine is full bodied with soft, ripe tannins and ample crispy freshness. This should be easy to drink within five years of release a 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Mouton Rothschild – Nearly purple in color, this is full bodied and intense. There is a strong sensation of crushed stone, exotic spices, licorice and barbecue smoke swirling about the dusky red fruits as they coat your palate. Powerful and sensuous with a magnificent wholesomeness of fruit, the wine nimbly builds to a boundless finish, which clocks in at close to 60 seconds! The blend comes from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, reaching 13.1% alcohol with a pH of 3.75. The harvest took place from September 7 to September 29 and the Grand Vin represents 51% of the harvest. 98 – 100 Pts
2017 Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild – Displaying a deep hue, the wine is full bodied, lush, polished and fresh. There is a depth of flavor, which arises on the palate with an attention-grabbing pageant of blackberries, cassis, tobacco and licorice. Thought-provoking to note the fact that this second wine is superior to every vintage of Mouton Rothschild produced in the 70s and most of the 80s. The exquisite balance was fashioned from 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine reached 13.2% alcohol with a pH of 3.75. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Pastourelle de Clerc Milon – Medium bodied, elegant, forward, red berry filled with accents of currants, tobacco leaf and wet earth. You can drink this on release. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Pauillac – Dark in color, the wine offers ripe, dark red berries, tobacco leaf, moist topsoil, thyme and smoke. Full bodied with round tannins and a polished texture, this should age nicely. Essentially, this is a special wine from the owners of Fonbadet. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Pedesclaux – The nose pops with black currant, tobacco leaf, licorice, cedar and forestry aromatics. On the palate, the wine displays freshness in the fruits and cream on the tannins. Medium/full bodied with a lot of black and red fruits, which carry through to the endnotes, this has both charm and age ability. The higher percentage of Cabernet adds complexity and character to the wine. Made from blending 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the wine reached 13.25% alcohol. The harvest took place September 18 to September 29. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Pibran – With chocolate and floral inflection topping the dark, red fruits, this wine is medium bodied and forward with scattering of dusty tannins in the finish. Made from a blend of 68% Merlot and 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, you can drink this young. The higher than usual percentage of Merlot is due to the effects of the frost. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Pichon Lalande – Showing a virtuous depth of color, the wine opens with notes of lead pencil, truffle, smoke, tobacco leaf, vanilla and dark red fruits. The tannins are silky, polished, salty and creamy. The wine is full bodied, velvety and long, delivering complexity, sweetness and length. This a very sensuous wine that comes from blending 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The wine reached 13.1% alcohol with a pH of 3.78. The harvest took place from September 7, ending October 1. 96 – 98 Pts
2017 Reserve de la Comtesse – Cherries, raspberries, cedar and spice open this wine. The tannins are soft and the wine creamy with sweetness and freshness in character. You can drink this young. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Pichon Baron – Extremely dark and almost inky in color, you’ll find wet forest, cedar wood, tobacco, espresso and ripe blackberries from the beginning. Dense, concentrated and full bodied, the wine wraps around your palate with immaculate purity and plush velvety tannins. There is opulence, power, structure, austerity and balance, which lingers in the mouth for nearly 50 seconds. The wine was made from blending 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, reaching 13.1% alcohol with a pH of 3.7. The Grand Vin was made from 50% of the harvest and the picking took place September 18 to October 3. 96 – 98 Pts
2017 Les Griffons de Pichon Baron – Right from the get-go the wine is polished, soft and fresh. There is backbone with layers of ripe, juicy, dark fruits and briny tannins in the finish. The wine was made from blending 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Merlot. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Les Tourelles de Longueville – Supple textured, soft, presumptuous and fruity, this wine offers instant gratification for those who cannot wait for the inescapable gush of Cabernet Sauvignon. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Pontet Canet – Dark ruby in color, there is a sensation of crushed rocks, lead pencil, flowers and deep, red fruits. The wine is medium/full bodied, soft, polished and stylish. Not the deepest vintage produced at Pontet Canet, though instead you’ll enjoy a purity of fruit with elegance, lift, length and vibrancy. 94 – 96 Pts
Next up we’ll cover all the top wines from Saint Julien in the 2017 vintage.