The previous back to back great vintages before 2015 and 2016 were 2009 and 2010.
Four outstanding vintages in the space of such a short time – and good to excellent vintages in between – are causes for celebration.
Time will tell whether 2015 or 2016 is the greater of two dazzling years. In the end, it may just boil down to personal taste. For me, 2016 has it all. Generous fruit, supple structure, and freshness in abundance. It is, I believe, the “1982” of the 21st century. So far anyway because who knows what the next 81 years will bring.
The 2016 vintage is full of phenolic expression. And concentration. So much so that the equally ripe tannins seem overwhelmed by the succulence. The freshness too is all there but, again, stepping aside to let the fruit take centre stage. For now.
Someone who has a wonderful perspective on the audacious vintage is Philippe Blanc, Managing Director and Chief Winemaker of Chateau Beychevelle. A quarter century after joining the legendary St-Julien estate in 1995, the Frenchman was moved to say that “In 1996, we made our best Amiral’. That, mind you, is just their second wine.
On 24 August 2019 in Singapore, my office organised a tasting of 33 wines of the 2016 vintage at The Tower Club. Here is an overview of that event.
You may also want to read … The Great Bordeaux 2016 Vintage
Even in an outstanding vintage, some wines are greater than others. The degrees of separation include greater intensity of fruit, more layered complexity, greater persistence, and length. The Four to Five Star wines will age 30 to 50 years and beyond. In their evolution, they will become even more dazzling than their original exuberance of youth. For Three ½ to Four Star wines, they will age 20 to 30 years. The vast majority of the wines are very harmonious and balanced between fruit, structure and freshness. Chateau Lascombes is the only wine that comes across as too extracted and oaky.
Chateau Brane Cantenac
Chateau Leoville Barton
Chateau Pichon Lalande
Chateau La Gaffeliere
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Red
Amiral de Beychevelle
Baron de Brane
Chateau Langoa Barton
Chateau Latour-Martillac White
Chateau Latour-Martillac Red
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere White
Reserve de la Comtesse
Chateau du Tertre
Chateau La Tour Figeac
Clos La Gaffeliere
Chateau Chapelle d’Alienor
Chateau Fourcas Hosten
Chateau Lilian Ladouys
Chateau Mauvesin Barton
Chateau de Pez
La Reserve de Malartic