Another 36 Hours in Paradise – En Primeur 2016

When we visited the Bordeaux en primeur 2016 week recently, we had temperatures in the mid to high 20s centigrade. Little did we know that such a dramatic drop in temperature (as low as -4c) was just around the corner.

 

 

 

 

In the last week of April, severe frosts across Europe hit Bordeaux hard and have caused much damage to the potential crop in certain sectors of the area.  Our thoughts are with those affected

Frost on Vines in Bordeaux

Many owners will need all the help they can get, in the near future, and to this extent, we would like to revisit the wonderful en primeur 2016 vintage we tasted with our friends from the St Emilion area.

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In our previous blog post, I outlined a 36 hour period which described our recent visit to Bordeaux. In this post, I will outline my last day and a half with James and Paula, focusing on the wines of St-Emilion and Pomerol.

By the way, if you would like to receive our en primeur prices – contact me here.

We had decided to base ourselves in the wonderful UNESCO heritage town of St-Emilion because our focus for the last few days of our trip was to be on the wines of St-Emilion and Pomerol.

Our first foray, however, was into the nearby town of Libourne – the heart of the Moueix empire. JP Moueix is a Bordeaux négociant house founded by Jean-Pierre Moueix in 1937, situated on the Quai du Priourat in Libourne.

Libourne, France
Libourne

While dealing in the wholesale distribution of numerous right bank wines, the company also acts as a bulk grape merchant, operates exclusive distribution for select châteaux, and manages its own portfolio of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion estates.

We tasted a large range of St Emilion and of course Pomerol there. Highlights were LagraveLatour a PomerolHosannaTrotannoyLa Fleur PetrusBelair Monange and the majestical La Fleur.

St-Emilion Wines – En Primeur 2016

Back to St. Emilion, we had a group tasting of wines just a short walk from the roundabout at the top of St Emilion in Chateau La Couspaude. The highlights of this group tasting were certainly Troplong Mondot and Clos Fourtet.

Bottles tasted greenacres en primeur 2016

By the way, just in case you are ever in St Emilion, I should mention a fantastic restaurant – Logis de la Cadenne in the centre of the town. James, Paula and I have followed this restaurant for the past 3 years and were delighted to hear of their recently awarded their 1st Michelin star.

desert at La Cadence

I can only describe the rest of our day as a labour of love. We had an amazing line-up of the best properties on the Right Bank, (of the Gironde River).

Paula and Petrus En Primeur 2016

Our first visit was to the king of Pomerol – Petrus. A small estate of just 11.4 hectares, it produces a red wine entirely from Merlot grapes since the end of 2010 and produces no second wine. Visitors to Bordeaux often ask to see the Pétrus château, but they won’t find it. There was once a farmhouse on the estate, but that was destroyed in the early 2000s.

A Madame Loubat, the owner of Chateau Pétrus in the 1940s, commissioned a new label for her wine, showing St. Peter holding the keys to Heaven. A few years later, she also commissioned a statue of the saint, which takes pride of place on the estate.

Without exaggeration, I can safely say that our tasting revealed the richest and full bodied Petrus for decades and definitely could become the keys to wine heaven.

Virginie et moi

Our next visit was to Chateau Figeac. They have produced another beautiful wine and I would consider them to be right at the top of their game.

Château Le Pin, or simply Le Pin, was our next stop. The unusually small estate gets its name from a solitary pine tree that grows near the winery. Its wine is frequently one of the world’s most expensive red wines. Unfortunately, here in Green Acres, we only get a tiny allocation of this wonderful wine. It is very rich and full bodied this year.

Ch. La Pin France
Le Pin

The vineyards at Le Pin were developed by Jacques Thienpont whose family own the neighbouring Vieux Château Certan.

Jacques Thienpont
Jacques Thienpont

Vieux Ch Certan, Pomerol – A perennial favourite for everyone on the group, it is so warm and inviting. While the original château at Vieux Château Certan dates back to around 1770, the modern history of the estate starts in 1924 – the year that Belgian fine-wine merchant Georges Thienpont purchased the property.

Alexandre Thienpont
Alexandre Thienpont

With the centuries-old wisteria in blossom for the tastings every year, I think everybody at our group tasting agreed that this would be their ideal holiday home. Unusually, the wine capsule is pink (see below). Apparently, it’s been like that since the 1920s – pink was very fashionable in Paris in the 1920s. This was my wine of the 2016 vintage.

Vieux-Chteau-Certan-bottle

Cheval Blanc– the first Chateau you come to once you leave Pomerol from Vieux Ch. Certan. As of 2012, its wine is one of only four to receive the highest rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé status.

Chateau Cheval Blanc Cellars
Chateau Cheval Blanc Cellars

The new cellars here are an architectural wonder. A mass concrete building of beautiful curves and lines. It looks like a ship rising at an angle from the ground. The gardens that grace the top of this cellar are like the hanging gardens of Babylon.

chateau cheval blanc
Arial View Chateau Cheval Blanc

They have matured considerably in the past few years only to soften this beautiful structure. Cheval Blanc is sublime this year. We also had an opportunity to savour the delightful d’Yquem, rich and full this year, perfectly balanced with acidity and sweetness. 

We walk through the vineyard of Cheval Blanc to their next door neighbour Chateau La Dominique. If you are ever in the area, there is a beautiful restaurant on the top of this newly renovated chateau.

On from the ultra modern Chateau Cheval Blanc to the old cellars of Chateau Ausone, carved into the limestone hillside of St Emilion. We had an amazing tasting here this year. The Chateau de Fonbel is delicious and will be one of the best value wines to buy this year. Moulin St Georges was superb. But Ausone was the best from the region. Perfect in every way, with a savoury aspect to it.

James at Ch. Ausone

Next stop was Chateau Canon. Our experience was exceptional this year. In the past few years, the wines of Chateau Canon have exuded class. The 2016 vintage is no different. We tasted the same wines from 3 different barrels (different coopers). We noted clear differences from each barrel, all adding to the final blend to make a wine of great charm and elegance. This is a strong runner to be included in my top ten wines of the vintage.

Paula et Charlotte
Paula et Charlotte

A nice surprise was an impromptu tasting in the cellars of Roc de Cambes and Tertre Rotebouef. They both have wines with superb concentration to them. And both have the same magical touch of intrigue and exoticness.

Tertre Roteboeuf signage chateau-roc-de-cambes-co

At the end of our long day, we dined in Le Tertre which we would thoroughly recommend.

The End of a Long Week Tasting En Primeur 2016

James with Vintage Car
James was our driver for the en primeur 2016 week

On our final day of en primeur 2016 tasting, we packed our bags, had a quick breakfast and boarded the minibus for the 1 ½ hour drive to Chateau Haut Brion, back in the city of Bordeaux.

Ch. Haut Brion bottles
Ch. Haut-Brion bottles

Haut Brion differs from the other wines on the Premier Cru Classé list in its geographic location in the north of the wine-growing region of Graves. Of the five first growths, it is the only wine with the Pessac-Léognan appellation and is in some sense the ancestor of a classification that remains the benchmark to this day.

In addition to the grand vin, Haut-Brion produces a red second wine. During our visit, we tasted 6 reds, and 3 of the best whites from the region, all of which were well worth our journey in my opinion. Suffice to say, I would travel again for big muscular and very rich Haut Brion. The Haut Brion Blanc is very fragrant and concentrated also – both with a perfect score.

Ch. Picque Caillou
Ch. Picque Caillou

We came to the end of our Bordeaux trip with a visit to our friend Paulin Calvet in Ch. Picque Caillou.

Paulin Calvet
Paulin Calvet

Paulin and Isabelle very kindly had a lovely lunch for us at the Chateau. His 2016 red and white are perhaps the best he has ever made. We re-tasted his 2014 red also and it is amazing.

As a special treat, we witnessed an acre of his vineyard being replanted, during lunch, and we really enjoyed sampling his 2009 and 2000 red.

I have just shipped the 2014 vintage to the Green Acres’ warehouse. Contact me at donal@greenacres.ie if you missed out on purchasing it during the En Primeur 2014 campaign.

Finishing Up.

Well, if you have read this and our previous en primeur blog you will have a good feel for what we get up to on our tasting trips. I hope I have given you an oversight of the en primeur 2016 vintage.

If you would like to delve more into the individual wines, you can get access to my detailed tasting notes here. Needless to say, we would love to chat with you in more detail about investing in en primeur wines so feel free to contact James or me here in Green Acres at any time.

I’ll finish with a quote of John Milton, which sums up my thoughts on the 2016 Bordeaux vintage:

“One sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight, beyond the bliss of dreams.”

We look forward to talking to you soon – cheers, Donal

wine bottle and glass silhouette
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