2016 Union des Grands Crus Bordeaux Tasting and Summary of the Vintage

Bordeaux tasting

On Tuesday 16th October, the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux held its annual tasting in Lindley Hall, London. A chance for members of the trade to try the 2016 vintage from chateaux throughout the Bordeaux region. It’s always a great opportunity for those in the wine trade. Not only to taste the recently released wines but to meet the makers, owners and representatives of the chateau. It’s an opportunity I greatly appreciate and am fortunate enough to be able attend.

With this said, I don’t often drink such young Bordeaux, and forming opinions on how they might age and develop is not my expertise. It is however a good indication of what you can expect from the vintage as a whole, left and right bank regions and even specific wines in the future… certainly an interesting exercise and enjoyable practice.

As the current President of the (UGCB) Union des Grands Crus Bordeaux told us, ‘2016 is a classic Bordeaux Vintage’. This is indeed backed up by Decanter’s en primeur report from June 2017 stating that 2016 caps the extremely rare run of three classic vintage years in a row. That ‘this is without a doubt an exceptional year.’

A brief Liv-ex summary of recent right bank in bottle scoring from Jancis Robinson marks many chateau highly. The left bank summary also showing high praise across the board with 100 point scores for both Leoville Las Cases and Lafite Rothschild.

Personal favourites from my tasting notes included:

Château Bon Pasteur (Pomerol) – Great depth of nose from red berried fruit to a farmyard grassiness. Cherries and slight vanilla on the palate. Good balance of acidity and tanins.

Château La Conseillante (Pomerol) – Bags of power on the palate. It stood out amongst the Pomerols (both to Bob and I) which had all been good.

Château Canon La Gaffelière (Saint-Émilion) – Good complexity on the nose with black fruit, strawberry and a little earthiness. Strong tannins on the palate backed up by a long lasting but not overpowering acidity. Fruit delivered until the end.

Château Dufort Vivens (Margaux) – Will drink young and fun. Deep purple vibrancy and intense nose of black currant fruit. Would love to give this 5-8 years and try again.

Chasse Spleen (Medoc) – 15% Merlot, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon. Lovely nose. Much more than just fruit. A touch of bacon and wood spice. The palate slightly closed but with long tannins, acidity and structure; I’m hopeful.

On the whole, good fruit and acidity can be found both from the right bank and the left. Weather conditions in 2016 Bordeaux treated the grapes to a long and late ripening and avoided the hail that plagued many other wine growing areas in France that year. Certainly not a strongly alcoholic vintage but this does let the fruit and acidity shine.

Guy Butler

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