En-Primeur 2015

 

En-Primeur 2015
Reports coming from Bordeaux during the course of the 2015 growing season and harvest were overwhelmingly positive so our purchasing team set out for this year’s En Primeur tastings with a keen sense of anticipation. On the whole, the high expectations are justified and there will be some very exciting wines released during this En Primeur campaign.
 
 
Flowering came early in 2015 and took place quickly and efficiently; followed by an extended period of hot, dry weather which saw near-record temperatures during June and July. The vines were developing very thick skinned berries but with the high temperatures and lack of water in the ground there were concerns that the grapes might shrivel and raisin. Rain in August and the early part of September went a long way to ease those fears. Growers were content to sit out the rains before beginning picking, confident that those thick skins would mean there was little risk of rot.
We found the overall quality level high and it was a pleasure to taste these wines as they showed energy, plenty of luscious fruit, freshness, balance and structure. There were some very impressive results in Pomerol and St Emilion, with Pessac-Leognan and Margaux also showing some outstanding wines. The rains had fallen heaviest in the northern Medoc which presented some challenges but we found some profound wines here too.
 
 
In terms of the style of the vintage, we found similarities with 2005, 2009 and 2010 but the wines of this vintage have their own appeal, with balance and structure, showing restraint and precision in the winemaking. Echoes of a modern version of 1982, perhaps?
 
 
At this stage we have little indication of the timing or pricing of this years En Primeur campaign although clearly we are hoping for realistic prices to be released in the near future. As usual we will focus on the top performing properties and those we consider offer the best value for money. We are more than happy to deal with your individual enquiries by telephone, email or in person and please feel free to forward your wish list of 2015 Bordeaux wines that might be of interest to you.
 
 
Tasting notes: Our comments and ratings (AWL) as well as those of Jancis Robinson (JR), Neal Martin (WA), James Suckling (JS), Wine Spectator (WS) and Antonio Galloni’s (AG) are indicated on the following pages
Bottling: Prices are for standard 750ml bottles. Wines can be bottled in half bottles, magnums or other formats for an additional charge. Please provide special bottling instructions before 31st August 2016.

Storage: There will be storage charges if we do not receive any shipping instruction before 30 Nov 2017. The charge will be HKD $240 per annum per case or per large format bottle (9Lcase). Cellarage invoices will be raised on 1 January 2018. If you wish to collect your wine early, we will refund you with the remaining full month(s) storage fee on a pro-rata basis.

Shipping Cost: HKD$180 per case inclusive of insurance. Please instruct us in advance for special shipping arrangements.

Offer: Please note that the following wines are offered ex-cellars Bordeaux. Bordeaux ex-cellars and available in unit of 6 or 12 bottles per case. Minimum order will be 12 bottles (750ml) per wine. They will be available for delivery in Spring/Summer 2018. Payment upon receipt of invoice.

 

Wines ( * denotes Limited Allocation )
Aile d'Argent Aile d’ArgentAlter Ego de Palmer
AngelusAusone - New *Beausejour Duffau
Belair MonangeBellevue MondotteBeychevelle
Blanc de Lynch BagesBranaire DucruBrane Cantenac
Calon SegurCanonCanon La Gaffeliere
Carruades de Lafite - NewCertan de MayChapelle de la Mission
Chapelle d’Ausone - NewCheval Blanc - New *Chevalier de Lascombes
Clerc MilonClimens Clinet - SOLD OUT
Clos de L'Oratoire Clos du MarquisClos Fourtet
Cos d’EstournelCos d’Estournel BlancCoutet
D'ArmailhacD'IssanDomaine de Chevalier Blanc
Domaine de Chevalier RougeDu TertreDucru Beaucaillou
Duhart MilonEcho de Lynch BagesFigeac - SOLD OUT
GazinGiscoursGloria
Grand Puy LacosteGrand Village Gruaud Larose
GuiraudHaut BaillyHaut Batailley
Haut Brion *Haut Brion Blanc *Hosanna *
La Cabanne La Clarte de Haut Brion La Conseillante - New
La Dame de Montrose La Fleur-Petrus - NewLa Mission Haut Brion Blanc
La Mission Haut-BrionLa MondotteLa Tour Blanche
La Violette Lafite - New *Lafleur
LagrangeLangoa BartonLarcis Ducasse
LascombesLatour a Pomerol Le Carillon de l'Angelus
Le Clarence de Haut-BrionLe GayLe Petit Lion de Leoville Las Cases
Le Petit MoutonLeoville BartonLeoville Las Cases
Leoville PoyferreLynch BagesL’Eglise Clinet - New *
L’Evangile - NewMalartic LagraviereMalartic Lagraviere Blanc
Malescot St ExuperyMargaux - SOLD OUT *Monbousquet
Monbousquet BlancMonbousquet Blanc Montrose
Mouton *PalmerPape Clement
Pape Clement BlancPaviePavie Decesse
Pavie MacquinPavillon Blanc de MargauxPavillon Rouge de Margaux
Petit VillagePetrus Phelan Segur - New
Pichon BaronPichon LalandePontet Canet
QuintusRauzan SeglaReserve de la Comtesse
RieussecSaint PierreSaint Pierre
Smith Haut Lafitte - SOLD OUTSmith Haut Lafitte Blanc - SOLD OUTSociando Mallet
SuduirautTalbotTroplong Mondot
TrotanoyVieux Chateau Certan - SOLD OUT * 

 

 

St Estephe

Calon Segur (AG 90-93 AWL 95-96+ JR 17+ JS 93-94 WA 91-93 WS 89-92)
€61.00

AG 90-93... Super-polished, silky and exceptionally beautiful, especially for the vintage and appellation. Creamy, expressive and inviting, the 2015 possesses striking nuance and delineation throughout. Dark blue and purplish fruits, lavender, herbs, menthol and licorice add the closing shades of nuance.

AWL 95-96+... Purple / ruby. Pungent berry nose with spices dried petals and cassis. Delicious! Great fruit, acidity and tannin levels.

JR 17+... Dark crimson. Pure and aromatic. Pretty dense and dry with a hint of sweet oak. Solid and concentrated. All set for the long term. Pretty introvert. Edgy finish but more sweetness than there used to be. Intense - more intense than usual for this property. A little attenuated on the end. Very solid indeed!

JS 93-94... This is very fine and integrated with black currant, walnut and fresh tobacco. Full body, pretty polish. Sophisticated. Well done for the vintage for this appellation.

WA 91-93... Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the aromatics with blackberry, cedar and graphite aromas: quite linear, nicely focused and reserved compared to the 2014 last year. The palate is understated on the entry, the tannin very fine and the acidity very well judged. Like the nose, the Cabernet drives this wine forward: structured and a little "brittle" in the mouth, perhaps the most Pauillac-like Calon-Segur that I have encountered over many years of tasting. Afford this several years in bottle.

WS A solid effort, with plum and dark cherry fruit showing the fleshier side of the vintage. Shows silky tannins underneath and a pleasant tobacco edge on the finish.

Cos d’Estournel (AG 92-95 AWL 95-96+ JR 18.5 JS 97-98 WA 92-94)
€135.00

AG 92-95... A wine of cool sophistication and polish, the 2015 Cos d'Estournel is endowed with striking length and overall persistence. Silky tannins support a core of graphite, smoke, licorice, incense, tar and dark spice. The 2015 is perhaps not as aromatically nuanced or expressive as in the very best years (although that may develop in time), but it offers terrific persistence through to the finish. Finesse and nuance are the key signatures in the 2015 Cos.

AWL 95-96...  Deep purple / ruby colour. Cassis, earth, minerals and plum on nose. Well balanced. Clean, fresh acidity. Ripe, saturated fruit. Lifting finish. Going back to a classic style.

JR 18.5...  Extremely dark crimson. Lovely spice and breadth. Hint of tobacco leaf with lots of ripe fruit. Very comfortable. A lovely pair of slippers. Real tension and ripeness - great combo. Nothing forced. Ethereal and builds towards the end. Certainly has the graphite ingredient.

JS  97-98... This shows what great selection did in the northern Mêdoc. Big surprise. Really excellent. Full body, chewy and rich tannins and loads of ripe fruit. Black currants, blue berries. It has hot and ripe tannins yet cool fruit.

WA 92-94... A very pure bouquet with tightly knitted blackberry, blueberry and violet scents, perhaps just a little Margaux-like in style. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity and harmonious in the mouth. What it does not quite deliver is the complexity of a top-tier Cos d'Estournel or the peacock's tail of flavors on the finish, which feels linear and conservative compared to its peers in more southerly appellations. You feel as if the vintage put a tight leash on this Saint Estèphe grandee. There is pedigree in this Grand Vin for sure and it is bound to give up to 20 years of pleasure.

Cos d’Estournel Blanc (AG 90-92 JR 17 JS 94-95 WA 91-93)
coming soon

AG 90-92...  The 2015 Cos d'Estournel Blanc is brisk and nicely focused throughout. This is a beautiful, classy wine endowed with lovely energy and overall tension. In this vintage, the emphasis seems to have been on maintaining freshness, which comes through in the wine's vivacity. Green orchard fruit, sage and mint add the closing shades of nuance.

JR 17...  Pale greenish straw. Very exuberant nose. And pretty tight and grapefruity dry finish. Tight. Chalky finish. Tight and racy and ambitious.

JS 94-95... A dense and pretty white with sliced apple, pear and pineapple. Full body and very fresh. Tangy and bright. Lovely energy to this.

WA 91-93... It has a charming bouquet with lime flower, apricot blossom and just a touch of blood orange. There is a sprightliness to this wine. The palate is crisp and fresh with a fine bead of acidity, plenty of tension here and perhaps more precision than previous vintages that I have tasted since its debut. I like the flow of energy here. This is an excellent Cos d'Estournel Blanc that should age with style and panache.

Montrose (AG 90-93 AWL 97-99 JR 17+ JS 93-94 WA 93-95)
€118.00

 

AG 90-93... The 2015 Montrose is silky, super-finessed and nuanced, all qualities that are unusual for a wine that is usually much more of a powerhouse. Black cherry, smoke, leather, graphite, crème de cassis and licorice notes open up in the glass, yet the wine comes across as raw and not fully formed. The 2015 appeared to put on a bit of weight over the two weeks I followed it, but I don't see the depth, structure and personality of the very best versions.

AWL 97-99... Deep purple. Cassis, liqueur, vanilla cream and black fruit nose. Superbly polished and ripe palate that is powerful and charming at the same time. Amazing texture.

JR 17+... Very dark and very dramatic. Even a hint of overripeness on the nose. A little stodgy. Could do with a little more lift. A little dry at present. Clearly fashioned for the very long term. Kerpow! Very much in the style of the old Montroses in terms of sheer concentration.

JS 93-94... Blueberry, black currant, fresh basil and lemon grass flavors. Full body, velvety tannins, clean finish. Spices. Depth.

WA 93-95... Possesses some of the best aromatics you will find in the appéllation - billowing blackberry, cassis and boysenberry scents all beautifully defined and seamlessly integrated with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, commendable depth and a vibrant bead of acidity that lends this Montrose tension from start to finish. The class comes through strongly in this wine, perhaps the best Saint Estèphe this year. Give this a decade in bottle, more if you can, since Montrose tends to repay cellaring.

Phelan Segur (AG 89-92 JR 16.5+JS 93-94 WA 91-93 WS 88-91)
€31.50

AG 89-92... The 2015 Phélan Ségur is one of the most impressive wines I have tasted here in a number of years. It is also a wine that developed considerably over the two weeks I followed it. Early tastings suggested a deep, powerful Saint-Estèphe, but over the course of a week, the aromatics and finesse seemed to become more apparent. Beautifully ripe, silky tannins wrap around a core of expressive dark red cherry, plum and exotic spices. The decision to pick on the late side certainly was right on the money. This is a pretty and promising wine from the team at Phélan Ségur.

JR 16.5+... Bright fruit and fine tight finish. Classic stuff though with an undertow of sweet oak. No one could object.

JS 93-94... A full-bodied red with very dense and chewy tannins. Very persistent and intense. Very fine textured. One of the best Phelans ever?

WA 91-93... Certainly one of the better offerings from the Saint Estèphe appéllation. For sure, the bouquet is restrained, kept on a leash, but it trots along with crisp blackberry and raspberry fruit, interwoven with an attractive pencil lead note. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin. It is structured and quite bold, considering the storm that swept across the appéllation during harvest, clearly a lot of sorting here that engenders a clean and pure wine with appreciable mineralité and tension on the foursquare finish. If released at a sensible price, then this would be a recommended Saint Estèphe to consumer over 10-12 years.

WS 88-91... This offers a good core of dark currant and bitter cherry notes, with hints of warm stone and tobacco filling in on the finish. Shows solid grip.

La Dame de Montrose WA 88-90 JR 16.5 AG 89-91
€30.80

WA 88-90… It has a perfumed, floral and pure bouquet with black cherries, blueberry and violets, all with commendable delineation for a deuxième vin. The palate is well balanced with a more sumptuous texture compared to its fellow Saint Estèphes, thanks to that lush Merlot that forms the core of this wine. It has commendable energy and feels approachable.

JR 16.5… Deep crimson. Scented and sleek. Very ripe and flattering. Not at all like the classic Montrose style - presumably deliberately made to be drunk young. Polished and even rather sweet!

AG 89-91… The 2015 La Dame de Montrose is a very pretty second wine. Dark, radiant and open-knit, yet with plenty of nuance, the 2015 offers lovely precision and silkiness throughout. The wine's mid-weight structure suggests it will drink well relatively early. Raspberry jam, white pepper and mineral notes add the closing shades of complexity.

 

Pauillac

Aile d’Argent (AG 89-91 JR 17+ JS 96-97 WA 90-92 )
€60.00

AG 89-91... laced with attractive scents of white flowers, lemon and grapefruit. The fruit was brought in between September 2 and 9 which helps keep the flavors fresh, while a dollop of Muscadelle and a small amount of malolactic fermentation gives the Aile d’Argent its characteristic sweetness.

JR 17+... Relatively complex nose. As though this is a wine with a future. I really like the dry finish and nutty layers. Bone dry but lots of interest. Racy but not ready.

JS 96-97... This has crazy energy with dried pineapple, pear and sliced apple. Full body, exotic and lively long. So exciting. 55% sauvignon 43% semillon and muscadelle.

WA 90-92...  An attractive bouquet of lime cordial, pink grapefruit and apricot that gently unfolds in the glass. The palate is very well balanced with a keen thread of acidity that runs through waxy-textured fresh pear, grapefruit and lime notes. There is just a touch of malolactic fermentation here (actually around 7% of the total according to winemaker Philippe Dhalluin) that just lends cohesion and smoothness to the finish. With a dash of lemongrass loitering on the aftertaste, this is a very fine Aile d'Argent that should age well over the course of a decade, possibly more.

 

Duhart Milon (JR16 AG90-92 WA90-92 JS91-92)
€54.00

JR16… Light and mild-mannered on the nose. Sweet palate that could do with a little more freshness. Very dry finish. So unassuming it's rather underwhelming. Full marks for texture but flavour is a bit dull.

AG90-92... The 2015 Duhart-Milon is soft, open-knit and expressive, with gorgeous dark red and purplish fruit pushed forward and pretty spiced notes that add complexity. Medium in body and gracious, the 2015 should drink nicely with minimal cellaring. This is a very pretty, understated Duhart.

WA 90-92… It has a tightly-wound bouquet with blackberry, bilberry and cassis fruit, moderate complexity, perhaps just a little static at the moment. The palate is medium-bodied with quite supple tannin for the normally obdurate Duhart-Milon, the acidity nicely judged with a pleasing salinity towards the finish.

JS91-92... A firm and silky red with blackberry and chocolate character. Hints of walnut. Full and chewy. Fresh finish.


 


 

D'Armailhac (AG 90-93 JR 17.5 JS 92-93 WA 89-91 WS 88-91)
€32.00

AG 90-93... The 2015 d’Armailhac is especially strong this year. Racy and sumptuous to the core, the 2015 offers lovely depth and radiance throughout. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, blood orange and spices are all pushed forward, while the creamy, generous textures are hugely inviting. The plush, racy personality of the vintage comes through loud and clear. The d’Armailhac is the hidden gem in the Mouton-Rothschild portfolio this year. This is superb effort.

JR 17.5... Particularly bright crimson. Savoury, lively nose. Drier and lighter than most but racy and satisfying in the new style. Good freshness and breadth. Really very polished.

JS 92-93... A refined and pretty red with plum, blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors. Full to medium body, fine tannins. Exuberant.

WA 89-91... It has a very intense bouquet with layers of small dark cherries and cassis, the oak prominent, though the final blend will contain proportionally less. The palate is very concentrated and quite showy, as d'Armailhac has a proclivity of being at this early juncture. The acidity here is nicely judged with just a touch of graphite coming through on the finish. This is a satisfactory d'Armailhac, but there was a nagging feeling that this is one wine from the Mouton Rothschild stable that left me wanting more. Perhaps that will develop during its barrel maturation?

WS 88-91... This has good density midpalate, with red currant and plum fruit. Keeps a slightly racy edge overall, with a lightly chalky frame giving way to iron through the finish.

Blanc de Lynch Bages (AWL 92-94 JR 16.5 JS 94-94 WA 90-92 WS 91-94)
coming soon

AWL 92-94... Honey and citrus. Super fresh.

JR 16.5... Very pungent indeed. Almost Kiwi richness on the nose. Lots of depth though. Really racy.

JS 94-94... A bright and flavorful white with sliced apple, pear and mango follow through to a full body, crisp acidity and lively finish. Lots of white peaches too.

WA 90-92...  It has an attractive bouquet with scents of lime, gooseberry and beeswax, the oak neatly enmeshed. The palate is fresh and vibrant, harmonious in the mouth with a twist of bitter lemon on the mid-palate, easing down towards the finish with Cornice pear and citrus peel notes. There is very pleasant salinity on the aftertaste that urges you back for another sip. This is an accomplished Blanc de Lynch Bages that should offer several years' drinking pleasure.

WS 91-94... There's terrific zing and precision here, with tangerine and white peach notes allied to a steely spine and leading to a long fleur de sel finish. Should unwind slowly and will likely do well in the cellar.

Clerc Milon (JR 17.5 JS 94-95 WA 91-93 WS 89-92)
€48.00

JR 17.5... Rather broader and riper than Armailhac, presumably thanks to the lower Cabernet quotient. But still very fresh, almost inky. Dry finish. 'New fashioned.' Super-appetising. Very long.

JS 94-95... This is super fine textured with ultra-polished tannins. Full body, blackberry, blueberry and dark chocolate. Long and refined.

WA 91-93... It has a highly perfumed bouquet with scents of small black cherries, graphite, touches of incense and wilted violets. This is a very extravagant bouquet for Clerc-Milon that wants to make an early impression. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, more expressive and delineated than the 2015 d'Armailhac, the finish beautifully focused with that graphite seam coming through on the sustained finish. This is potentially an outstanding Clerc-Milon, though it will need a decade in bottle to show its true potential.

WS 89-92... Offers a rounded, juicy feel, with cherry and black currant fruit moving along, backed by sweet tobacco notes and a flicker of anise. Pure and fresh.

Echo de Lynch Bages (AG 87-89 JR 16.5 JS 90-91 WA 89-91 WS 87-90)
€28.50

AG 87-89... The 2015 Echo de Lynch Bages is forward, succulent and quite expressive. A wine that will drink well early, the 2015 captures all of the radiance of the vintage, with good freshness and an appealing, mid-weight personality. The Echo is a quintessential 2015 endowed with lovely depth and tons of near-term appeal.

JR 16.5... Dark bright crimson. Scented and light weight but lively and very fresh. Just a bit dry and demanding. Very much a second wine… Pretty classic Pauillac - but no attempt at flattery.

JS 90-91... A silky and firm wine with pretty fruit and spice character. Full and fine. Second wine of Lynch and makes the grade.

WA 89-91...  It has a fragrant, finely tuned bouquet of blackberry, pencil lead and a touch of citrus fruit - scents that gently unfold in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, the acidity well judged, gentle in the mouth, but building in fruit intensity to a pleasurable graphite-tinged finish. One of those deuxième vins where more is less. This is a well-crafted Echo...echo...echo...

WS 87-90...  Lively, with a fresh savory edge to the mix of red currant, blood orange and cherry notes, backed by a smooth, relatively open finish.

Grand Puy Lacoste (AG 92-95 AWL 95-96 JR 17 JS 94-95 WA 94-96 WS 91-94)
€54.00

AG 92-95...  A rich, super-finessed wine, the 2015 Grand-Puy-Lacoste brings together the ripeness of the vintage and classic elegance of Pauillac in stunning style. Today, the 2015 is gloriously ripe and intense, with fabulous follow-through and remarkable balance. Dark red cherry, pomegranate, exotic, spice and blood orange hit the flamboyant finish. This is one of the wines of the vintage. Don't miss it.

AWL 95-96... Opaque purple / ruby. Exotic spices, black fruit, graphite aromas. Considerable charm and lusciousness. Good backbone. Pure.

JR 17... Mid crimson. Relatively voluptuous for a 2015 Pauillac on the nose then racy and sucky-stony on the palate. Very Pauillac. Great energy.

JS 94-95... This is very fine and elegant GPL with black currant and hints of walnuts, chocolate. Full body, sweet and pretty tannins. Persistent. So polished.

WA 94-96... Now, Grand-Puy-Lacoste is often quite "aloof" at this early juncture, but that is not the case with the 2015. This is more approachable aromatically, beautifully defined, thanks to that expressive Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin and finely tuned acidity (pH 3.68). Beguilingly harmonious in the mouth, it boasts a silky smooth texture with wonderful salinity on the aftertaste that is sustained in the mouth. As usual, Xavier Borie has produced a "classic" Pauillac, but one that is a little more appeasing to those that don't want to cellar for 20-30 years. You could describe the 2015 as being between 2009 and 2010...and that, folks, is not a bad place to be.

WS 91-94... Pure, sleek and minerally today, with chalk and iron driving the core of red currant and damson plum fruit. The fruit is steadily emerging, and the length is there. Textbook Pauillac.

Lafite (AG 94-97 AWL 96-98 JR 18 JS 97-98 WA 94-96 )
€465.00

AG 94-97... A dramatic, ample Lafite, the 2015 is also arrestingly beautiful and vivid. Expressive floral notes give the dark red and black flavors gorgeous aromatic lift. Today, the new oak is a bit pronounced, but otherwise, this is an exceptional wine. Rose petal, lavender, mint and purplish stone fruits add the last shades of detail.

AWL 96-98...Deep ruby. Cedar, cigar box, smoke, minerals and spicy fruit aromas. Rich, very charming. Good volume. Diplomatic. Great finish.

JR 18... Lustrous mid crimson. Lightly spicy nose and very smooth tannins in the Lafite style. Only just enough acidity. Blurry impression. Mild and charming - very restrained and Lafite. It builds on the end in an impressive manner.

JS 97-98... Here is a Lafite with lots of muscle and tone. Very tannic and velvety textured.. Full body, fresh acidity and a bright finish. Shows a tenderness at the end. Gorgeous.

WA 94-96... A tightly-wound bouquet with black cherries, cassis, cedar and graphite, though it does not quite possess the depth one would have expected the vintage would have bestowed. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, harmonious on the entry and with the oak neatly integrated. There is a very fine grip towards the finish, which has a tangible spicy edge - white pepper with a touch of bay leaf and enough pencil lead to fill a stationery set. The aftertaste is extremely long here, more than a minute when I timed it on my watch. It is an excellent Lafite-Rothschild in the making and it often "finds its voice" only after bottling, so it could ultimately end with a higher score.

Lynch Bages (AG 91-94 AWL 95-97 JR 17+ JS 95-96 WA 93-95 WS 92-95)
€94.00

AG 91-94... A total knock-out, the 2015 Lynch Bages is racy, sumptuous and super-expressive. Raspberry jam, mocha, dark spices and leather flesh out as the 2015 shows off its broad, ample frame and inviting personality. The 2015 is a decidedly dark, flamboyant Lynch Bages with enough depth to drink well for several decades. Although a bit atypical, the 2015 Lynch Bages is nevertheless quite attractive.

AWL 95-97... Cedar, crème de cassis, spices kirsch and black cherries aromas. Full bodied. Generous, rich and still structured. Excellent depth and texture. Ripe tannins.

JR 17+... Much deeper crimson. Minerals and spice - a very winning combo - on the nose. But bone dry on the end after some pretty dry tannins. Very solid but needs time. Drier than many vintages. Still pretty tight.

JS 95-96... Very classic style Lynch with pretty ripe fruit and tannin balanced. Full body, firm and shew tannins yet polished and refined. Alcohol and fruit balance are lower than other top years and give this wine freshness and energy.

WA 93-95... There is an overwhelming sense of purity on the nose: perfumed, almost floral blackberry, wild strawberry, graphite and cedar scents, unmistakably Pauillac in style. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, a keen citrus thread that impart tension and ample freshness. Tasting this as the first wine of the day, it instantly refreshes the mouth and leaves it tingling with energy after it has departed. This is an excellent, top-grade Lynch Bages that deserves 8-10 years in bottle and then will offer three decade of pleasure, maybe more.

WS 92-95... This is packed with juicy currant, black cherry and blackberry fruit carried by warm stone and graphite notes. Offers lovely sweet spice hints through the finish, which is fleshy and integrated. Really sappy and intense, yet the smooth structure lets it all glide through beautifully.


Le Petit Mouton (WA 91-93 JS 93-94 JR 17 AG 90-93)
€119.00

WA 91-93… It is almost opaque, a wall of blackberry, cassis and tobacco aromas, perhaps the most powerful that I have ever tasted under this label. Over ten minutes, I noticed it become more sensual and rounded. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, like the aromatics, incredibly powerful and assertive. Wonderful delineation here, very mineral-driven with a bravura of a finish.

JS 93-94… Very rich and chewy and polished. The soft and silky tannins coat your mouth. Full and savory. Excellent.

JR 17… Lively aromatic wine. Pretty sinewy and vigorous with real ripe fruit but overall dry on the end. A little austere at this point. But in the middle there is palate weight.

AG 90-93… The 2015 Le Petit Mouton opens with striking, expressive aromatics. Graphite, smoke, charcoal and blackberry jam are fused together in a deep, beautifully layered Pauillac. The 2015 is impressive from start to finish. This is an especially strong Petit Mouton endowed with real class.

Mouton (AG 94-97 JR 19 JS 96-97 WA 97-99)
€449.00
AG 94-97... A bold, dramatic wine, the 2015 Mouton-Rothschild sweeps across the palate with remarkable depth. Seemingly endless layers seem to open as the 2015 fills out its broad, ample frame. The tannins are silky and creamy, which give the 2015 much of its voluptuous, inviting personality, while the finish is both remarkably vivid and persistent. This is an especially dark, powerful Mouton.

JR 19... Very majestic nose. Obviously first-growth quality. Savoury and plush in terms of texture. Restrained without being a wimp. Lovely scent. Dry finish but with some of Mouton's opulence before then. Very fine. Very exciting. Some saline sap as well as all the ripe fruit.

JS 96-97... Very racy and refined with super polished tannins and focused dark fruits. Blackberry, orange peel, and black currants. Full. Very long and through provoking. A wine that delivers power and finesse. Juicy and fresh.

 

WA 97-99...Reveals a gorgeous, extraordinarily intense bouquet of blackberry, cassis, incense and cold slate aromas. In some ways it reminds me of Latour as much as Mouton Rothschild. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin, perfectly pitched acidity, wonderful tension and impressive length. There is a strong graphite theme running through from start to finish that is little grainy and so it will require preferably a decade in cellar. But what freshness and panache here, a classic Mouton-Rothschild that will live for 50 or 60 years, not a million miles away from say, the 1986 or 2010. Expect this to settle at the top of my banded score once in bottle.


 


Pichon Baron (AG 93-96 AWL 96-97 JR 17.5++ JS 96-97 WA 96-98 WS 93-96)
€106.00

 

AG 93-96... A wine of total seduction, the 2015 Pichon-Longueville Baron possesses exceptional richness, power and intensity, all in the suave, inviting style of the year. Silky, voluptuous and creamy, the 2015 is totally spherical on the palate. This is an undeniably charming Pichon-Baron that should drink beautifully for several decades. Hints of lavender, mint, violet and crème de cassis add the closing shades of nuance in this seamless, racy Pauillac.

AWL 96-97... Black purple. Really fragrant bouquet. Almost like walking into a florists and spice shop. Graphite and black fruits. Quite rich with elegance. A weighty & classic Pichon Baron. Gorgeous, juicy finish.

 

JR 17.5++... Dark crimson. Much less immediately attractive on the nose than Pichon Lalande. But with real tension and follow through on the palate. Very Pauillac indeed! Muscular.

JS 96-97... Very solid and muscular Pichon Baron with ripe and velvety tannins. Full and very rich with balance of ripe fruit that deliver blackberry, walnut and spice. Warm and ripe yet finishes cool and sassy.

WA 96-98...It has a very pure bouquet with lifted blackcurrant, blueberry and graphite aromas, beautifully delineated, the oak seamlessly embroidered with the fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin. This is disarmingly and utterly harmonious with a startling mineral core. Possibly the most sensual Pichon Baron that I have tasted at this nascent juncture, it gently unfolds in the mouth and leaves with an enormously persistent finish that leaves the senses tingling. If you want to know whether this 2015 is up there with the 2009 or 2010, the answer is unquestionably yes. 

WS 93-96... Really packed, with very energetic blackberry, black currant and plum fruit, pushed by anise and sweet spice and rumbling through the broad, iron-edged finish. Shows lots of heft, but the impression is fresh, and this is built for the long haul. Impressive.

Pichon Lalande (AG 96-98 AWL 97-98 JR 17.5+ JS 96-97 WA 95-97 WS 94-97)
€ 106.00

AG 96-98...A dazzling, towering wine, the 2015 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande has put on considerable weight in just the last few months. Today, the 2015 is vivid and intense, with a huge backbone of tannin and marvellous complexity. In 2015, the Cabernet Sauvignon is pushed higher as the Merlot was less consistent in its ripening. Graphite, charcoal, tobacco, crème de cassis and new leather are some of the signatures in what is shaping up to be a super-classic Pichon-Lalande. Simply put, the 2015 is one of the wines of the vintage. 

AWL 97-98...Gorgeous nose of spices, roses, cassis, vanilla and minerals. Ripe, complex and layered. This is one that’s ranks alongside 1982, 1986, 1996 and 2000. Precise. Creamy texture.

 

JR 17.5+... Very sweet and round and velvety. Lots to treasure here. Especially for those in a hurry! Ripe and rich. Lip smacking. But to be avoided by those who like their Pauillacs to have a hint of austerity.

JS 96-97... This is absolutely beautiful with super tannin quality that gives you the most silky texture. Precise. It goes for minutes. Full and concentrated yet all in balance.

WA 95-97...A very pure bouquet with expressive Merlot imparting black cherries and wild strawberry aromas that are embroidered with a thread of graphite. I noticed how it errs more towards black fruit with extended aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin on the entry, the Cabernet Sauvignon here in the driving seat despite that level of Merlot trying to get in a look. Together they give a sense of completeness to this Pichon Lalande that has semblances towards the great 1996. Whereas this Pauillac has a tendency to be more approachable than others, in fact, the 2015 has the backbone and substance to suggest that it will require a minimum of ten years' ageing, but patience will be amply rewarded. Nicolas Glumineau has overseen a quite brilliant Pichon Lalande here.

WS 94-97... This has excellent energy, featuring voluptuous blackberry and black currant fruit lined with cassis bush, bay leaf, wet stone and iron notes, with sweet tobacco filling in the background. The finish is broad and long, with a nice graphite edge. This is Pauillac.

Pontet Canet (AG 95-98 JR 17- JS 97-98 WA 94-96)
€94.00

 

AG 95-98...One of the wines of the vintage, the 2015 Pontet-Canet oozes class, finesse and pure pedigree. A hypothetical combination of the 2010 (for its dark fruit and tannic structure) and the 2009 (for its voluptuous fruit), the 2015 offers remarkable intensity, power and grace. A host of exotic floral and spice notes wrap around the dark, racy finish. In a word: magnificent!

 

JR 17-... Dark purplish crimson. Very ripe start and then rather drying tannins on the end. Wild and lively but a little bit heavy. I'm looking for a little more freshness. There's austerity and astringency (because of the amphorae influence?) but I'm not sure it compensates for the lack of acidity. Savoury, salty finish.

JS 97-98... This is very fine and silky with a beautiful vivid blackberry and blueberry character. Super polished tannins. Refined and very, very long. Fabulous harmony to this young wine. Very classic Bordeaux. Superb depth and length. Real Bordeaux.

 

WA 94-96... A pure and perfumed bouquet with small dark cherries, red plum and subtle violet scents, perhaps a little Margaux-like in style, the second showing demonstrating a little more red fruit character. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly grainy texture on the entry. There is nicely judged acidity here, moderate depth, very supple tannin that lend this a silky texture. There is modest weight towards the second half, perhaps spicier than some of its Pauillac peers with an edgy, lightly peppered finish. It is an intriguing and complex, almost mercurial Pontet-Canet, a wine that I suspect will gain more weight during its élevage. Afford this 5-8 years in bottle and you should have a delicious, intellectual Pontet-Canet on your hands.


 


Haut Batailley WA 92-94 WS 89-92 JR 17 JS 92-93 AG 92-95
€32.00
WA 92-94... It is a level up from the 2015 Lacoste Borie with much more fruit intensity: blackberry, boysenberry, tobacco and cedar aromas. It gathers momentum in the glass and develops a subtle mint accent. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, lithe tannin, very well balanced with just a slight tinniness that will disappear by the time in bottle. 

WS 89-92... This has a rather streamlined feel, with notes of red currant preserves, violet and iron all in lock step from start to finish. Shows nice purity. 

JR 17... Bright limpid crimson. Quite tense and exciting spiciness on the nose. Rich and ripe. Quite forward but good savoury undertow. Lots of energy. Dry but not drying end. A good effort! Nothing forced.

JS 92-93... Racy and balanced red with black currant, plum and berry aromas and flavors. Full body, soft and silky tannins, Elegant.

AG 92-95... A wine of class, pedigree and nuance, the 2015 Haut-Batailley is superb. Beams of supporting tannin give the dark purplish flavors striking energy and cut. Graphite, smoke, violet, mint, dark cherry and plum notes continue to open up in the glass. Haut-Batailley is a Pauillac with distinct Saint-Julien leanings, and that is exactly what comes across here.

Reserve de la Comtesse WA 90-92 WS 87-90 JS 92-93 AG 90-93
€31.00

WA 90-92… It has a very fine, quite sophisticated and pure bouquet with black cherries, cedar and violet aromas, perfumed and sensual. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, rounded tannin that is cloaked by layers of tobacco-tinged black fruit that segues into a long, lightly spiced finish.

WS 87-90… Lively, with kirsch and cherry paste notes that are lined with fresh floral and bright iron notes, followed by a rather sleek finish.

JS 17… Really very opulent - just like blackberry juice! Until some slightly drying tannins on the end. Very Merlot-influenced with great sweetness. Early maturing. A real fleshy charmer.

JS 92-93… Lots of blackberry and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, chewy tannins and a savory finish. A juicy second wine from PL.

AG 90-93… The 2015 Réserve de la Comtesse is a powerful, tannic second wine that looks like it will need a few years in bottle to come together, as its structural spine is imposing at this stage. Dark, brooding and intense, the 2015 possesses magnificent depth and pedigree to burn. A host of black cherry, graphite, smoke, licorice and incense hit the building, intense finish. The 2015 is a gorgeous Comtesse, but the brooding style is going to take some time to come into its own. This is a serious second wine.

Carruades de Lafite (WA 89-91 JS 92-93 AG 90-93 JR 16.5)
€145.00

WA 89-91… This has a satisfying purity on the nose: blackberry and briary, a distant, cold slate-like note just underneath, with the new oak (close to 20%) neatly subsumed. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. There is moderate depth to this slightly foursquare and conservative Carruades, but there is also plenty of freshness and it has an appealing, unassuming finish that is both harmonious and precise.

JS 92-93… A silky and fine second wine of Lafite with blueberry, blackberry and flower aromas and flavors. Cedar and nuts too.

AG 90-93… The2015 Carruades de Lafite is a very pretty second wine. Dark, sensual and inviting, the 2015 Carruades is super-expressive today. Graphite, plum, black cherry, lavender and licorice are all nicely delineated throughout. The higher presence of Merlot gives the Carruades lovely inner sweetness and perfume. This is very nicely done.

JR 16.5… Relatively light crimson. Light, rather timid nose. Drying tannins on the end. Very pretty and polite but not at all dramatic!

 

St Julien

Beychevelle (AG 92-94 JR 17 JS 92-93 WA 92-94 WS 90-93)
€56.00

AG 92-94.. Understated and nuanced, the 2015 Beychevelle is a wine of lovely finesse. Graphite, smoke, plum, violet and lavender are some of the many notes that are found in this delicate, super-expressive Saint-Julien, while floral notes add lift. The finessed side of Saint-Julien comes through nicely here.

JR 17... Bright crimson. Aromatic rather than concentrated. Racy and sinewy. Lots of charm and pzazz without being in the least heavy. Bravo!

JS 92-93... This is very pretty with ultra-fine tannins, blueberry, blackberry and mineral flavors. Full body, integrated and balanced. Shows refinement and tension.

WA 92-94...A clean and crisp bouquet, tightly-wound at first, then unfurls with redcurrant, cranberry and raspberry scents, leaning towards the red spectrum rather than black. There is impressive delineation here, no frills, almost clinical in its "aromatic efficiency." The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. This is a suave Beychevelle in the making, harmonious in the mouth, supple even, gently building towards a lightly spiced finish. Among the Saint Julien wines, this is clearly one of the more understated 2015s. It is only when you swallow the wine that its lingering flavors remind you that this could evolve into one of Philippe Blanc's great Beychevelles. While it is not a headline-grabbing wine, a decade in bottle will be handsomely rewarded.

 

WS 90-93... This has a plush, slightly smoky edge, with plum sauce and blackberry confiture notes forming the core. Shows ample stuffing through the finish, presenting a pleasantly chewy edge.
Branaire Ducru (AG 92-94 JR 16.5 JS 93-94 WA 90-92 WS 90-93)
€42.00

AG 92-94... Deep, fleshy and delicious. Radiant, open-knit and endowed with a total sense of class, the Branaire hits all the right notes. A striking mélange of dark red and purplish fruit, wild flowers, hard candy, mint, spice and new leather makes a strong opening statement. Sweet floral notes add lift on the finish. Branaire is one of the freshest, most perfumed Saint-Juliens of the vintage. As such, it is a wine of pure pleasure and sensuality, not to mention a terrific example of the year.

 

JR 16.5... Dark ruby. Sweetly gamey on the nose. A little light compared with some but very correct. Quite advanced. But just slightly austere in style. No one could object but I can't imagine many falling madly in love. Stones on the finish.

JS 93-94... This is very structured and tight with chewy polished tannins and blueberry, blackberry. Full and savory. Should develop beautifully.

WA 90-92...A high-toned, black cherry and cassis scented nose that perhaps feels a little constricted by the new wood in this sample, though not necessarily once in bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with a lightly spiced entry, white pepper and a touch of sage, gritty tannin, foursquare and a little conservative. There is commendable weight on the finish, if not quite the precision compared to its peers. I noticed this gaining more cohesion in the glass, which bodes well for once the Branaire-Ducru is in bottle. I expect this to rest at the top of my banded score.

 

WS 90-93... Pretty and aromatic, with flavors of kirsch and cherry preserves mixed with tobacco and bay notes. Stays energetic through the relatively sleek finish. Wins on purity.
Ducru Beaucaillou (AG 94-96 JR 17.5 JS 95-96 WA 94-96 )
€139.00

AG 94-96... Offers notable depth, power and richness. There is plenty of tannin lurking beneath, but it is nearly buried by the sheer intensity of the fruit. Smoke, tobacco, charcoal, leather and dark stone fruits give the 2015 much of its brooding, tightly wound personality. A wine of pedigree and exceptional class, the 2015 Ducru is structured yet also spherical in texture, with terrific balance and tons of style.

 

JR 17.5... Very deep. Lifted and fresh. Very correct and unforced. Very sweet. Only just not too sweet… Transparent. Very expressive. Lively and fresh but a bit sinewy.

JS 95-96... A dense and compressed red with loads of blackberry and blueberry character. Fresh wet vineyard soil. Some mushroom too. Full and very tannic yet polished and very refined. Super balance and depth.

 

WA 94-96...Relatively opulent bouquet for Saint Julien, with ripe black plum mixed with blackberry and cranberry, very well defined and neatly interwoven with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly savory opening, gently but insistently gripping the mouth. It feels dense and structured with a subtle marine-like note towards the linear, black olive-tinged finish. Bruno Borie has a 2015 with backbone, with longevity in mind. I suspect this will require a decade for the tannins to soften and continue the purple patch for this grand estate.


 

Gloria (AG 87-89 JR 17 JS 92-93 WA 90-92 WS 90-93)
coming soon

AG 87-89...Intense and quite powerful, but also a bit rough around the edges. Iron, smoke, red stone fruit, pencil shavings and tobacco give the wine its rustic personality, an impression that is reinforced by the burly tannins. There is good intensity in the glass, even if some angular contours remain. Hints of inky crème de cassis and spice add the closing shades of Saint-Julien expression.

JR 17... Exceptionally deep crimson. Deep and crisp and even on the nose. Very good concentrated glossy fruit. Polished and racy. A very neat, accomplished rendition that's almost drinkable already, so well handled are the tannins. Bravo!

JS 92-93... Pretty Gloria with plenty of tension and energy. Full body yet silky textured and extremely long. Exciting.

WS 90-93... Rock-solid, with loads of bramble and bay leaf underscoring the ripe blackberry and black currant fruit. There's lots of grip, but this is plush, staying focused through the toasty finish. Shows nice refinement.

WA 90-92... It has a fragrant bouquet with dark cherries, cedar and touches of cigar box - classic Saint Julien in many ways, though it does not have the complexity of great recent vintages such as the 2010. The palate is well balanced, clean and pure with fine tannin. The acidity is nicely judged, not a million miles away from the 2015 Lagrange in terms of its refinement, but this has perhaps a touch more detail on the finish. Perhaps one of the more approachable Saint Julien wines this vintage, give this 4-5 years in bottle and then drink over the next 20 years. 
Gruaud Larose (JR 17 JS 93-94 WS 88-91 WA 90-92 )
€53.00

JR 17... Mid crimson. Mild, well-balanced nose. Ripe but not overripe. Neat and confident. A good expression of a charming accessible vintage. Neat and comfortable.

JS 93-94... A velvety and flavorful red with dusty tannins and lots of ripe fruit. It remains fresh and balanced. Harmonious. Excited to see it develop in barrel.

WS 88-91... Nicely focused, with a beam of red and black currant fruit inlaid with subtle spice notes and carried by velvety tannins. A little shy on range, but this is solidly built.

WA 90-92 It has a rather conservative bouquet, reticent at first, gradually unfolding with truffle-tinged black fruit, the oak nicely integrated but perhaps needing a little more energy. The palate is ripe and rounded on the entry, fleshier than many of its Saint Julien counterparts, quite sumptuous in terms of mouthfeel with a suave texture. There is a sense of linearity here, a strictness that particularly comes through on the finish. The purity is commendable and the tannin, fine, but what it needs is that final flourish. It just misses that killer blow on the finish and saunters to its conclusion. I hope that it gains more in barrel.


 

Lagrange (AG 88-91 JR 16.5++ WA 90-92 WS 89-92)
€32.50

AG 88-91..Quite powerful and deep, but the tannins are also imposing. It will be interesting to see if the Lagrange fleshes out with time. Today, it is a bit austere and compact.

 

JR 16.5++... Lightly meat and two veg on the nose. Juicy - juicer than usual with the tannins well covered up by ripe fruit. Bone dry but not austere. Very correct even if not amazingly winning.

WA 90-92...Tightly-knit bouquet with blackberry, cedar and light rose petal scents, elegant in style. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly grainy tannin, moderate weight in the mouth, not as intense as either the 2009 or 2010, although it is harmonious and graceful. There is a pleasant spicy, white pepper note that lingers on the aftertaste of what should be one of the earlier drinking Saint Julien wines.

WS 89-92... Nicely packed, with enticing red and black currant fruit that is enlivened with anise, sweet tobacco and incense notes. Lightly toasty, with just a little tug of cedar at the end.
Langoa Barton (AG 90-93 JR 17 JS 92-93 WA 88-90 WS 90-93)
€35.50

AG 90-93... Fleshy, open-knit and absolutely delicious. Sweet red cherry and pomegranate are pushed forward, while hints of violet, lavender and spice add freshness and lift to the succulent finish. The gracious, feminine side of Saint-Julien comes through in spades. This is very nicely done.

 

JR 17... Almost timid on the nose, this wine is so polite. After you … Quite a bit of acidity compared with some. Very straight-backed rather than full of pleasure. Just depends on your preferred style - but this certainly builds towards an impressive finish.

JS 92-93... Very ripe and fruit with lots of mature berry and plum character. Full body, round tannins and a savory finish. Juicy.

WA 88-90...It has a slightly smudged bouquet at first, a mixture of red and black fruit, a little sous-bois and tobacco developing in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with gently grippy tannin, veering more towards red fruit here, but laced with tobacco and cedar notes. The finish is austere and perhaps mean at the moment, so hopefully it will develop more flesh by the time of bottling. I must confess that I cannot remember tasting Langoa next to Léoville Barton at this stage and finding such a disparity between the two wines, attested by tasting the 2014s just afterwards and finding them closer together in terms of quality. 

WS 90-93... Very fresh, with a sleek frame around bright red currant and plum notes. Shows really good cut through the finish.
Leoville Barton (AG 93-96 JR 17 JS 94-95 WA 94-96 WS 92-95)
€61.00

AG 93-96... Superb. Vivid and wonderfully nuanced in the glass, the 2015 offers exceptional purity in its aromas and flavors. As always, the house style favors finesse over pure power, but in 2015 there is a good bit of both. Graphite, pencil shavings and crème de cassis, herbs and mocha meld into a rich, textured, beautifully persistent finish. The tannins are there, but they are nearly buried. Léoville-Barton is not the most powerful or showy Saint-Julien in 2015, but it is class personified. Don't miss it.

JR 17... Glowing purplish crimson. Very obviously 'sweeter' and chunkier than the Langoa Barton just tasted. But not too much. Full of appeal. And there is masses of tannin here! Lots going on here.

JS 94-95... A very savory and fruity red with red currant and plum aromas and flavors. Full body, firm backbone of tannins and a fresh finish. A generous and fruity young red. Fruity forward in a reserved way.

WA 94-96...Has a more compelling and intense bouquet than the 2015 Langoa Barton at this early stage, whereas in other years I have found the siblings closer together. It delivers some lovely blackberry, sage and cigar box scents. The palate is very refined with edgy tannin, beautifully balanced with seamlessly integrated oak. It is the classic Léoville-Barton style, full of energy and showing more breeding than the Langoa on the finish. This is just an outstanding, classic, drop-dead gorgeous Léoville Barton that is destined to give immense pleasure over the coming years. Bravo Anthony, Lilian et al.  

WS 92-95... Gutsy, with mouthfilling blackberry and black currant compote flavors buttressed with very lively bramble and licorice notes. There's loads of grip, but this is velvety in feel.
Leoville Las Cases (AG 95-98 AWL 96-98 JR 17.5 JS 96-97 WA 95-97 WS 94-97)
€155.00

 

AG 95-98…A vivid, mesmerizing wine, the 2015 Léoville Las Cases is stunning in its beauty. Unusually rich and sumptuous for Las Cases, the 2015 possesses magnificent intensity and power from start to finish. Blackberry jam, charcoal, smoke, licorice and asphalt are some of the many notes that take shape in the glass, but the 2015 truly stands out for its vertical structure and overall intensity. At the same time, the 2015 is an unusually ripe, exotic Las Cases with much more flesh and voluptuousness in its curves than is the norm. In that sense, the 2015, is not at all typical for Las Cases. And yet it is striking.

AWL 96-98…Black / purple. Black cherries, cassis, liquorice and spices bouquet. Quite muscular yet with such delicious fresh fruit. Gobs of it. Amazing wine. A classic.

JR 17.5… More voluptuous nose than some earlier vintages. Bone-dry finish. Pretty concentrated and with some richness. Solid and mineral but not (quite) as obdurate as it used to be. Fruit and ink combo. Minerals like Pauillac on the end. Grabs the attention.

JS 96-97… This is an ethereal young wine with blackberry and violet aromas and flavors. Full body, very firm and silky tannins and a superb finish. Lovely length and purity to this. 85% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot and 9% cabernet franc.

WA 95-97…Jean-Hubert Delon has crafted an extremely pure and tensile bouquet, almost pixelated with blackberry, briary, slate and oyster shell aromas that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, svelte and sensual on the entry, the tannins a little edgy with a gentle crescendo: black fruit, tons of minerals, real focus and precision towards the finish. This is a superlative Léoville Las-Cases with the substance to suggest long-term aging will be repaid.

WS 94-97… Very tightly focused, with both charcoal and iron harnessing the core of dark currant and blackberry fruit flavors. Sleek in feel, but not for lack of depth, as this is brimming with dark fruit and terroir, just in a more austere fashion.


 

Leoville Poyferre (JR 16.5++ JS 95-96 WS 92-95)
€61.00

AG 93-96… Simply magnificent. Rich, creamy and voluptuous in the glass, the 2015 captures all the best qualities of the vintage in spades. Layers of flavor blossom in the glass as the wine fill out its broad-shouldered frame with impeccable grace. A host of floral notes, including violet, lavender and rose petal grace the utterly exquisite finish. There is so much to like here. Specifically, the interplay of ripeness, texture and freshness is compelling.

JR 16.5++… Deep purple. Glowing. Flattering nose but without the undertow of some. Lots of energy and just a hint of sweet oak. A solid performance.

JS 95-96… A dense and savory red with plenty of phenolic texture and ripe fruit character. Hints of walnut and spice too. Chewy finish. Solid center palate.

WA 92-94… It has a typical Léoville-Poyferré bouquet at this stage: quite bullish and forthright, packed full of dense black cherries, red plum and cassis, the 85% new oak pronounced, but will be subsumed with bottle age. The palate is full-bodied with mouth-coating tannin: layers of graphite-infused black fruit, cedar and mint, almost Pauillac-like in personality with a sustained graphite finish. This is a sophisticated Saint Julien built for long-term ageing, perhaps less flamboyant than recent vintages, but the terroir shows through. Expect it to land at the top of my banded score, possibly higher.

WS 92-95…This features depth and focus, with a really solid core of currant and blackberry lined with ample iron and briar notes. Not shy with the toast, but the finish is energetic, and everything is pulling together.

Saint Pierre (AG 90-93 JR 16 WA 91-93 WS 90-93)
coming soon

AG 90-93… One of the pleasant surprises of the vintage, the 2015 Saint-Pierre offers terrific depth and overall intensity. There is more than enough richness to match the virile tannins. Crème de cassis, game, mocha, lavender, mint and sweet spices are fused together in this deep, unctuous wine. This is an especially dense, extracted Saint-Julien but it shows good overall balance as well as potential.

JR 16…Blackish crimson. Not the ripest on the nose. A little too austere? Ticks boxes rather the tugs at heart strings. A little low key.

WA 91-93…It has a tightly wound bouquet with blackberry, raspberry and cedar, just a touch of pencil shaving surfacing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent tannin on the entry, quite tensile with a fine bead of acidity. This is not the most complex Saint-Pierre that I have encountered, although it possesses 2015's elegance and refinement. This will have more to give after bottling and may ultimately overtake Gloria. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

WS 90-93… A dark, strapping style, offering lots of tarry-edged grip around the blackberry and plum compote notes, with a pretty espresso hint through the finish. Lush overall, as the vintage’s velvety tannins are here in spades.

Talbot (AG 90-93 JR 16.5 JS 92-93 WA 88-90 WS 90-93)
€43.00

AG 90-93… A pleasing, accessible wine with good up-front presence and lovely overall balance. Dark fruit, leather, menthol, game, smoke, licorice and herbs add attractive shades of nuance throughout. The 2015 Talbot is a bit rustic and not especially complex, but it sure is delicious. Best of all, the Talbot should drink well relatively early and be priced reasonably, making it one of the better values of the vintage.

JR 16.5…A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Mid crimson. Fragrant. Not concentrated but fresh and vital on the nose. Absolutely classic claret for early drinking.

JS 92-93…A refined yet chewy young red with lots of blackberry and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, ripe tannins and a fresh and clean finish.

WA 88-90…A very typical nose for this Saint Julien estate: unapologetically classic in style, reserved even, with very subtle blackberry and briary scents tinged with pencil shavings. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, moderate weight in the mouth, but it feels very linear and conservative towards the finish. Talbot rarely shows well out of barrel and can improve in bottle, so I will be a little more optimistic in my score and hope that it gains matière during élevage.

WS 90-93…This distinctive wine puts a slightly chewy and austere note of warm stone alongside the vintage’s more typical lush tannins, giving this interesting contrast. The core sports solid currant and blackberry fruit, with ample length.

Clos du Marquis WA91-93 WS 91-94 JR 17 AG90-93
€40.00

WA91-93… It has a pure and harmonious bouquet with blackberry, sous-bois and subtle tobacco aromas that gently unfold in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin in the mouth, a keen line of acidity, fine precision here with a mineral-rich finish that exudes terroir expression.

WS 91-94… Gorgeous, with anise, plum, blackberry and sweet tobacco notes already melded together seamlessly. Fleshy and inviting through the finish, with long, velvety tannins that are the hallmark of 2015. This is a delicious wine in the making.

JR 17… Very dark crimson. Very fragrant and much more concentrated and rich than Petite Marquise. Cool and fresh. Really very sophisticated. Bravo! Compete and sappy.

AG90-93… The 2015 Le Clos du Marquis emerges exclusively from 30+ year-old vines on the property. Lavender, violet, plum, crème de cassis, spice and menthol meld together in a deep, beautifully layered Saint-Julien built on spherical texture and juiciness. Silky tannins give the 2015 its up-front, racy personality, while sweet floral notes add aromatic lift on the finish. This is a very pretty and complete wine. Tasted two times.

Le Petit Lion de Leoville Las Cases JR 16.5+ AG 90-93
€32.50

JS 16.5+ Mid crimson. Spicy, soft nose - really rather charming. Transparent and much more accessible than Las Cases. Racy. Sells for a little less than Clos du Marquis.

AG 90-93… The 2015 Le Petit Lion, the second wine from Léoville Las Cases is superb. Racy, opulent and inviting, the 2015 hits all the right notes. In this vintage, the blend includes all the old-vine Merlot off the property, which gives the Lion added texture, power and breadth. Those elements come through loud and clear. Crème de cassis, blackberry, spice, leather and menthol build to the cream, voluptuous finish. This is a terrific showing, not to mention one of the sleepers of the vintage and fabulous second wine from Las Cases.

 

Margaux

Alter Ego de Palmer (AG 90-93 AWL 90-92 JR 16.5 JS 94-95 WA 90-92)
€49.00

AG 90-93… Round, succulent and also a terrific introduction to the vintage. Raspberry jam, cinnamon, flowers and mint are all pushed forward. This is an especially succulent, juicy Margaux that is firing on all cylinders. Today, the 2015 gives the impression it will drink well with minimal cellaring, as its balance and overall harmony are first-rate.

AWL 90-92… Black fruit, minerals and dark spice flavours. Fine tannins.

JR 16.5… Very rich on the nose. Very sweet and with sufficient freshness. Very very round. Just on the right side of soupy - but you really have to drink this pretty young, I think.

JS 94-95… Very solid and powerful with dried mushroom and wet earth aromas and flavors. Complex. Full and chewy yet so polished and long. Spicy, meat and gorgeous. Most serious Alter Ego ever. More inner Ego now!. 52% merlot, 41% cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot 6%.

WA 90-92…. It has a very open, ravishing, quite precocious bouquet with ripe black cherries, fresh dates and crème de cassis that gain intensity in the glass. The palate is more refined, reins it all back in thanks to quite tensile tannin, a crisp line of acidity, moderate depth in the mouth and a gentle grip. There is a touch of tarriness and cracked black pepper towards the finish with very good length. Give this 5-7 years in bottle.

Brane Cantenac (AG 92-95 JR 17.5 JS 93-94 WA 93-95 WS 90-93)
€49.50

AG 92-95… A super-expressive, deep wine, the 2015 Brane-Cantenac possesses magnificent intensity and pure power from start to finish. Dark red cherry, wild flowers, smoke, plum, tobacco, spice and game are some of the notes that build as the wine gains richness and volume with time in the glass. There is plenty of tannin lurking beneath, but it is nearly buried by the sheer opulence of the fruit, while the creamy finish alone is striking. This is a deeply satisfying wine from Henri Lurton. Brane-Cantenac is another wine that is a pure pleasure bomb in 2015. Don't miss it.

JR 17.5… Exceptionally deep crimson. Meat and wild flowers on the nose - very interesting. Definitely out of the ordinary. Left-field wine that should not disappoint. Racy and lifted. Really very elegant. Chapeau!

JS 93-94… This is very big and rich wine with dense and rich tannins, lots of ripe fruit. Blackberry, blueberry flavors. Muscular yet polished.

WA 93-95… This is classic Brane-Cantenac down the line: austere at first, almost aloof, but very well defined and over time it starts revealing lovely tobacco-stained black fruit. The palate is very well balanced with raspberry and wild strawberry on the entry, perhaps more red fruit than I was anticipating. Veins of undergrowth and cedar are in situ on this very well-balanced, reserved and classic Margaux boasting a long and persistent finish that feels satisfying, reassuring even. Not a Margaux for those that seek tons of fruit, it is nonetheless a very terroir-expressive wine that will repay those who know that this cru demands preferably 12-15 years in the cellar. Henri Lurton never wavers from his style of Margaux and it pays dividends here on this great wine for those with patience.

WS 90-93… This has a mix of enticing dark plum and blueberry fruit woven with a solid graphite note and carrying through an alder-edged finish. Has the vintage’s velvety feel, but a little extra cut.

Giscours (JR 17 JS 96-97 WA 94-96 WS 92-95)
€41.50

JR 17… Dark crimson. Relatively light nose. Very luscious sweet fruit on the palate - a very winning wine with a medium charge of tannin. Just a little inky on the finish. But good and appetising.

JS 96-97…This sets a new level for Giscours with blackberry, black truffle and blackberry. So much walnut and cedar. Full body, dense and incredibly long and powerful. Clearly the best Giscour since 1970 and 1975..

WA 94-96… The bouquet is very intense and almost "untamed" at first, but it calms down in the glass, revealing attractive scents of blackberry, raspberry, cedar and graphite. This is a Giscours determined to make a good impression...and it does. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very pure, a little spicier than recent vintages, adorned with a gentle crescendo in the mouth towards a really quite fantastic, tensile, complex and compelling finish. Having tasted the 1961 and 1970 Giscours just a few months ago, I wager that the 2015 will be the best since the 1961. Time to fall back in love with this great Margaux property.

WS 92-95… Solid, with warm plum, fig and blackberry reduction notes, inlaid with a lovely alder accent. Flows beautifully through the long, velvety finish.

D'Issan (AG 93-95 JR 17.5 JS 94-95 WA 93-95 WS 88-91 )
€47.50

AG 93-95… The 2015 d'Issan is a striking Margaux. Next to so many other wines of the appellation that are much more opulent, the d'Issan presents a much more feral, savory profile. Smoke, tobacco, leather, cedar, white pepper and game are some of the signatures. Deep, powerful and endowed with a real sense of explosive energy, the 2015 is bursting at the seams with personality. D'Issan is less showy and opulent than most Margauxs and yet it is also super-distinctive. The 2015 is perhaps a bit rustic and eccentric, but those are small quibbles at this level.

JR 17.5… Only medium crimson. Only medium intensity of aroma but lots of vivacity underneath. Very 'new-fashioned', as the Joanne brothers put it. Racy and full of real charm and energy. Lots behind this. This builds towards the end in a way that good burgundy does. Chapeau!

JS 94-95… This is solid and muscular Issan with round and powerful tannins. Full and long. Impressively structured.

WA 93-95… A very pure and sensual bouquet that takes time to open up, eventually offering black cherries and blueberry, a marine influence tucked in just behind (a common thread throughout various vintages of d'Issan). The palate is underpinned by extraordinarily fine tannin that gently caress the mouth. The 55% new oak is beautifully embroidered throughout this wine from start to finish, which displays energy, real frisson in the mouth. This may well turn out to be one of the greatest Château d'Issan made in the modern era. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

WS 88-91… Focused, with a twinge of singed alder and cedar up front giving this a slightly old-school feel, followed by a good core of steeped plum and black currant fruit. Picks up a bit of the vintage’s velvety edge on the finish, though the cedar note lingers as well.

WS 88-91... Focused, with a twinge of singed alder and cedar up front giving this a slightly old-school feel, followed by a good core of steeped plum and black currant fruit. Picks up a bit of the vintage’s velvety edge on the finish, though the cedar note lingers as well.

Lascombes (AG 92-95 JR 16.5 JS 94-95 WA 89-91 WS 90-93 )
€57.00

AG 92-95…. Rich, powerful and inviting. All the elements fall into place in a juicy, succulent Margaux endowed with superb overall balance. Sweet red cherry, plum, spice and grilled herbs are given an added kick of polish by the silky tannins. Racy and open-knit, the 2015 is built to deliver considerable pleasure with minimal cellaring. Readers should expect a bold, forward Margaux with modern contours and plenty of concentration.

JR 16.5… Dark purple. A little bit of wood shavings on the nose of this, as in the second wine. Very sweet palate entry without quite the energy of some of the most successful Margaux but it is certainly dramatic. Some will love its full-on impact. Tastes a bit alcoholic.

JS 94-95… This is so powerful and rich with fantastic depth of fruit and tannin structure. Full body, chewy yet polished in impressive. Stretches the limit on tannin extraction but it’s all there. Should develop beautifully in the barrel.

WA 89-91… A dense, rich bouquet with licorice and cigar box-infused black fruit and a touch of wilted violet. It feels rather tight-fisted compared to its peers in the Margaux appéllation. The palate is very smooth on the entry, plenty of new oak here, balanced but for want of a better word, missing some personality - especially on the finish that feels just a little labored.

WS 90-93… A frankly fruit-driven style, but delicious, with exuberant plum and blackberry paste flavors leading the way, backed by a melted licorice note. The velvety finish has good underlying acidity.

Du Tertre WA91-93 WS90-93 JR16.5 JS94-95 AG88-91
€29.10
WA91-93... The palate is medium-bodied with good structure, impressive depth, a du Tertre with more substance and body than recent vintages. There is precision with satisfying length on the cedar and pencil lead finish. Alexandre Van Beek might have produced his best du Tertre to date.

WS90-93... Offers a velvety feel overall, with steeped plum and currant notes layered with accents of black tea and ganache, Shows a racy tobacco edge underneath.
 
JR16.5... Dark crimson. A meaty note to this charmer. Lots of freshness too. A fairly early developer with masses of sweetness but a good herald of the vintage. Perhaps not the great concentration of tannins for a long life.
 
 
JS94-95... A wine with definition and refinement. Hints of tobacco and chocolate. Full body, super fine and flavorful. Juicy and savory. The walnut and spice on the end is gorgeous.
 
 
AG88-91... The 2015 du Tertre is dark, pliant and inviting. Black cherry, plum, mocha, exotic spice and lavender are front and center. This is an especially dark, virile du Tertre. A host of game, smoke, tobacco and more feral notes develop in the glass to give the wine its masculine, virile personality. Du Tertre is an especially brooding Margaux.
Malescot St Exupery (AG 92-95 JR 17 JS 97-98 WA 93-95 WS 93-96)
€38.50

AG 92-95…. Dense, powerful and rustic. Black cherry, smoke, leather, iron and dark spices hit the palate. Expansive, broad and juicy, the 2015 has more than enough depth to full out its broad shouldered frame. As it often is, the Malescot St. Exupéry is a bit rough around the edges, but time in bottle should take care of at least some of that. The 2015 finishes with lovely density and a blast of pure power.

JR 17… Particularly glowing crimson. Light nose with some wildness about it. A hint of something animal! Distinctive wine that is a bit more daring than the average Margaux. Not the most tannic but very nicely balanced.

JS 97-98…. The beauty in the fruit here is so impressive. Full body, super fine tannins. It’s very racy and incredibly long. Sexy and rich finish. Better than the legendary 2009? A blend of 70% cabernet savignon, 30% merlot.

WA 93-95… An intriguing and complex bouquet with oyster shells and seaweed infusing the intense black fruit. It is certainly well defined with nicely integrated new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, a keen thread of acidity, very pure and smooth in texture, gently unfolding towards the lightly spiced finish that lingers long in the mouth. This is a superb Margaux, surfeit with breeding and sophistication, though it will need 10-15 years in bottle.

WS 93-96… Very lush and warm, with delicious plum and boysenberry fruit flowing easily over the well-integrated structure. Generous in feel, offering a lingering black tea note. Very suave.

Margaux (AG 95-98 JR 19 JS 100-100 WA 98-100)
€449

AG 95-98… The 2015 Margaux is a super-classic wine. In 2015, most Margaux’s are notably intense, but Château Margaux expresses the richness of the year in its surprising tannic backbone and overall structure. Far from an up-front or sensual wine, the 2015 Margaux is likely to require considerable cellaring. It is a tightly-wound wine that manages to be both powerful and crystalline in its translucent purity. The 2015 is a wine of real density and yet so very much Margaux.

JR 19… Great breadth and savour on the nose. Lovely freshness and sophistication. Lots of fine tannins. Very aérien. Really flies! Perfect Margaux. A great welcome for the new chai and memorial for Paul Pontallier. Still tight but nothing out of balance. Very Margaux. Very classic claret. Quite brave because there is nothing showy about this wine, but it could truly be described as beautiful.

JS 100-100… The greatest Margaux ever made. More than perfection. Full body, firm and ultra-silky tannins. Black currant, mineral and floral character. It starts slowly and seems almost endless on the palate. Seamless. I want to sing! This is the wine that Margaux never made in some of the classics vintages like 1961, 1959 and 1945. May be its the 1900 all over again? Breathtaking.

WA 98-100… The bouquet is aimed directly at the senses - there is no dilly-dallying about, as it almost knocks you off your stool with its intense mineralité embroidered into this iridescent, graphite-tinged nose. The focus and penetration here ranks among the finest that I have tasted at this estate since first coming here in 1997. The palate is astonishingly well balanced, perfectly poised with super-fine tannins wrapped around pure blackberry, bilberry, graphite and cedar fruit. Like the Pavillon Rouge this year, there is a Pauillac-like sense of authority and aristocracy, leavened by Margaux-inspired femininity that completes that standout 2015 on the Left Bank. Beg for a bottle and worry about the cost later. Post script: I composed this tasting note five days before the passing of Paul Pontallier. It is a final gift from a gifted winemaker.

Palmer (AG 94-97 AWL 96-98 JR 18 JS 99-100 WA 95-97 )
€239.00

AG 94-97… A dark, voluptuous beauty, the 2015 Palmer is just as beautiful today as it was from barrel a few months ago. Mocha, plum, black cherry, tobacco and cedar are fused together in an effortless, racy Margaux endowed with real pedigree. Sweet tannins round out the plush, seamless finish, but they are there. This is a hugely promising Palmer.

AWL 96-98… Deep purple colour. Black cherries, sweet earth, new leather and floral spices in the bouquet. Creamy yet crisp texture. Very energetic, almost like dancing. Spicy notes. Lower in acidity than 2009 & 2010 yet the pure tannins keep it in balance. Liquorice in the finish.

JR 18… A really massive step above Alter Ego on the nose. Really fresh and polished. Lovely bramble fruit. Not that dense but really complete and beautifully balanced. Silky tannins. Real drive and lift towards the end. Very Margaux.

JS 99-100… A wine with incredible character and style with black ink and blueberry aromas and flavors. Full body, extremely fresh and structured with riffing tannins. It is muscular and powerful. White pepper, sea salt, mineral, stone character. A wine built for the long term. The making of the new 1961.

WA 95-97…. This has a wonderful bouquet with layers of dark cherry, boysenberry, a faint hint of dark chocolate and minerals. There is superb delineation here. The palate is medium-bodied, but this constitutes a decidedly more structured Palmer than I have encountered in recent years, perhaps a little more masculine due to the slightly higher Cabernet content. This is a classic Palmer made by winemaker Thomas Duroux, symmetrical in some way, poised and effortless on the finish. Those who like the more showy Palmer might not warm to this 2015, but this has real class and sophistication, a Palmer that will repay those with the nous to cellar it for 10-15 years. Expect it to reside at the top of my banded score.

Pavillon Blanc de Margaux (AG 93-96 JR 17+ JS 95-96 WA 91-93)
€119.00

AG 93-96… Bright, finely sculpted and classically understated in style. Citrus, white flowers, white pepper, mint and green pear abound. Weightless, translucent and also wonderfully taut, the Pavillon Blanc is one of the great white wines of the year. The nuanced, saline finish suggests the 2015 has a bright future.

JR 17+…. Extremely rich nose. Racy and lively with a green streak. Deliberately more acidity than in the old days. Just finishes a little more suddenly than I expected.

JS 95-96… This is like biting into perfectly ripe grapes with dried apple, peach and pear. Full and energetic with a pretty texture and length.

WA 91-93… It has a fresh lime cordial, apple blossom and white peach scented bouquet that is very seductive. The palate is well balanced with a keen thread of acidity, engendered by the cool nights in August and September. It is very harmonious with almond and a touch of stem ginger and sour lemon towards the finish, an accomplished Pavillon Blanc that should offer 10-15 years of pleasure.

Pavillon Rouge de Margaux (WA 92-94 JR 17.5 JS 95-96 AG 90-93)
€119.00
WA 92-94... It has a very refined bouquet, focused and extraordinarily pure with blackcurrant, blueberry and minerals. The 50% new oak is beautifully integrated here. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, a little more masculine than I was expecting, a Pavillon with firm structure imparted by that higher proportion of Cabernet. But the freshness is ample and there is a long, satisfying graphite note that seems to last forever on the finish.

JR 17.5... Very beautifully integrated on the nose. Still quite structured on the palate. Quite ambitious. This really is the sort of wine that would have been Ch Margaux in the 1980s. Excellent freshness and length. Not at all like a second wine. Great lift towards the end.
 
JS 95-96... Shows incredible depth and power with near perfect Margaux character of black fruits and power. Full body, very tannic yet polished and refined.
 
AG 90-93... The 2015 Pavillon Rouge is lovely. Open-knit, gracious and seductive, the 2015 offers striking palate presence and nuance. Exotic flower and a dash of white pepper add aromatic lift in a silky wine that shows the pure class of Margaux and Château Margaux. The 2015 is a striking, precise wine endowed with real class through and through.
 
Rauzan Segla (AG 93-96 JR 17.5+ JS 97-98 WA 96-98 WS 92-95)
€61.00

AG 93-96… Simply magnificent. Rich, powerful and intense, the 2015 exudes class. The flavors are dark, sumptuous and wonderfully expressive. In many ways, the 2015 captures both the finesse of Margaux and the intensity of the year. Specifically, the combination of power, freshness and delineation is compelling. The 2015 is an intense, rich wine. It is also totally compelling.

JR 17.5… Very dark. This is turbo Margaux! By which I don’t mean that it's forced but it has extraordinary concentration and impact. Very much set for the long term. Juicy and chock full of fruit that almost disguises the tannin. Amazing persistence.

JS 97-98… This is so sexy with superbly polished tannins that gives the wine super length and definition. Compacted and tight. Full body, tight yet flamboyant at the same time. Loving it.

WA 96-98… It has a very intense, almost crystalline bouquet with blackberry, briary, flint and just a touch of violet petal. There is incredible delineation here and the new wood is seamlessly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with extremely fine tannin, perfectly judged acidity, otherworldly purity and a mineralité rarely seen in this Margaux estate. This is a brilliant Rauzan-Ségla, not necessarily more powerful than previous vintages, though enhanced by its precision, frisson and energy, perhaps longer on the finish. Winemaker Nicolas Audebert has conspired with the benevolent growing season to produce a benchmark wine for the estate.

WS 92-95… Juicy and bright, with lots of energy to the red currant and plum fruit, laced with savory, iron and black tea notes. A velvety edge pulls the finish together. Shows good character, with less reliance on flashy oak.

WS 92-95... Juicy and bright, with lots of energy to the red currant and plum fruit, laced with savory, iron and black tea notes. A velvety edge pulls the finish together. Shows good character, with less reliance on flashy oak.

Chevalier de Lascombes (JR15.5 AG86-88)
€21.00

JR 15.5… Very dark. Not much nose except for a little wood shaving! Unusually sweet start (lots of Merlot?). Then a little drying on the end. Not the most complete and balanced 2015. Though there is some drama.

AG86-88… The 2015 Chevalier de Lascombes is a delicious second wine from Lascombes. Forward and fruit-driven in style, the 2015 is best enjoyed over the next few years, while the fruit retains its juiciness. Today, the oak is a bit overpowering, but otherwise, this is a solid wine.

 

Pessac Leognan and Graves

Chapelle de la Mission (AG 87-89 AWL 88-90 JR 16 JS 94-95 WA 91-93 )
€68.00

AG 87-89… A deep, striking wine, the 2015 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion is laced with captivating scents of graphite, smoke, cured meats, herbs, melted road tar, leather and violets. Equally rich and ample on the palate, the 2015 exudes intensity, with a pedigreed expression of fruit and enough depth to drink well for a dozen or more years. All of the signatures of site come through in this beautifully crafted second wine from La Mission Haut-Brion.

AWL 88-90… Earth, sweet red fruit and mineral aromas. Easy with nice balance. Elegant. Smokey notes.

JR 16…. Very rich, almost raisiny nose. Lots of (dried) fruity appeal. Pretty tough dried-grape impression on the finish. Not one of the most fluid wines from this stable! A bit of heat on the end. This wine may always be a bit of an anomaly.

JS 94-95… Very powerful and tannic yet salty and savory. Full body, dense and chewy yet polished and bright. Great second wine from La Mission. Only 30% merlot.

WA 91-93… The bouquet is tightly wound at the moment, but precise, revealing blackcurrant, cranberry and hints of marmalade scents with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with quite sturdy tannin on the entry that exert a firm grip, but there is more than enough fruit to back that all up. Touches of cedar and tobacco surface towards the second half and there is a sustained, chalky note on the finish that ensures that this a great deuxième vin.

Domaine de Chevalier Rouge (AG 93-96 JR 18 JS 96-97 WA 95-97 WS 91-94)
€49.50

 

AG 93-96… One of the most striking wines of the year. Weightless, powerful and intense, the 2015 possesses crystalline delineation and precision from the very first taste. Bright red stone fruit, pomegranate, chalk and mint are some of the signatures. In the last of my four tastings, the Domaine de Chevalier showed tremendous richness and intensity as well. It will be interesting to see where the 2015 ends up. The future certainly looks bright.

JR 18… Great tension and subtlety. Extremely savoury - almost salty - with freshness and ripeness. Not one of the deepest colours. Lovely appetising low-key classicism. Bravissimo à tous!

JS 96-97… This shows class and finesse with ultra-fine tannins and succulent fruit. Full body yet elegant and long. Gorgeous wine. Such length. Vibrant and focused.

WA 95-97… It has a sophisticated bouquet that is more reserved than its peers. It possesses one of the most precise, detailed aromatic profiles that I have encountered from this estate, wonderfully poised with black fruit, incense and cold stone. It has wonderful focus and class. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, very complex with lightly peppered black fruit. What marks this Domaine de Chevalier is the reserve and precision on the finish, a wine that is holding something back for its secondary evolution, a salinity that beckons you back for another sip. What a fabulous, intellectual wine from Olivier Bernard. Expect four decades of drinking pleasure - probably more - given my experience of ancient vintages.

WS 91-94… Offers an open, easy feel. The creamy structure lets juicy plum and raspberry notes flow along and linger on the finish. Almost languid in character, and very suave.

 
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (AG 93-96 JR 18 JS 97-98 WA 92-94 WS 93-96)
€73.50

AG 93-96… One of the clear wines of the vintage, the 2015 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is a stunner. Rich and intense, yet also finely cut, the 2015 dazzles from the very first taste. A host of lemon confit, white peach and slate notes race across the palate. Remarkably fresh and vivid, the 2015 offers an alluring interplay of textural creaminess and energy. I imagine the 2015 will age effortlessly for decades, as these wines do. Domaine de Chevalier's Blanc remains a reference point, perhaps the reference point, for dry white wine in Bordeaux. Don't miss it!

JR 18… Smoky, stony nose - obviously 'serious'. Very distinctive. Very mineral. Bone dry. Juicy. An absolutely model dry-white-bordeaux-style wine. Oakiness not an issue. All vineyard.

JS Incredible depth of fruit and density. Full and powerful with so much fruit and richness yet remains fresh and clean. Purity. Massive yet vibrant and electric. Minerality length. Love the taste to this.

WA 92-94… A refined bouquet with gooseberry, lime, almond and grapefruit aromas, the oak neatly interwoven, gradually unfolding in the glass yet remaining focused. The palate has an almost flinty opening, very edgy but not shrill, a tensile and linear Domaine de Chevalier Blanc that is driven by the acidity, touches of crustacea coming through on the energetic finish. There is a twist of sour lemon and chalk popping up on the aftertaste. This is a great, intellectual, comparatively more reserved white from Olivier Bernard.

WS 93-96… A distinctive style, with a rich core of tangerine, peach and Jonagold apple flavors that stretch out through the long finish, picking up salted butter, honeysuckle and mineral accents. Somewhat Burgundian in style, with more than enough stuffing to cellar once bottled.

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (AG 90-92 AWL 89-91 JS 93-94 WA 91-93 )
€95.00

AG 90-92… A huge, ample wine, the 2015 La Clarence de Haut-Brion will give readers a very good idea of what the vintage is all about at the château. The flavors are dark and boldly sketched throughout. Violet, lavender, mint, spice, gravel and earthiness all add to the wine's distinctly masculine, brooding personality. Far from an easy-going second wine, the 2015 Clarence has the pedigree to drink well for a number of years, but it also needs time in bottle to come together fully.

AWL 89-91… Tar, minerals, dark fruit and violets nose. Fresh palate with good acidity and fruit level.

JS 93-94… Racy and refined second wine with polished and pretty tannins. Full body. Pretty.

WA 91-93… Compared directly with the La Chapelle Mission Haut-Brion, I find that this does not quite possess the same delineation at the moment. This is broodier and more introspective in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannin, layers of dark berry fruit tinged with tobacco and cedar, gaining weight towards the finish that fans out with a sense of conviction. This should turn out to be an authoritative deuxième vin that will probably be consumed in its youth, but clearly possesses the substance to repay ageing. Those with wise heads will afford it 5-6 years in bottle.

 

La Clarte de Haut Brion (AG 89-91 AWL 88-89 JR 17.5 JS 92-93 WA 87-89 )
€68.00

AG 89-91… Soft, open-knit and wonderfully expressive. Scents of peach, apricot and white pepper meld together in an effortless, totally gracious white that will drink well early. This is a strong showing.

AWL 88-89… Pleasant and upfront.

JR 17.5… Very sweet Sémillon nose - almost honey! A hint of cat - very mineral. The Sémillon is all on the nose at the moment and the palate seems dominated by Sauvignon character. Lots to chew on.

JS 92-93… A solid wine with sliced apple and pear aromas and flavors. Full body and energetic. Lively. Second wine of Haut-Brion and La Mission.

WA 87-89… Lime and dried pineapple furnish the nose that is uncomplicated, but fresh and charming, with hints of honeysuckle developing in the glass. The palate is fresh and edgy on the entry with lime, green apple and chalky notes, moderate weight in the mouth with just a slightly clipped finish. Enjoy this over the next decade.

 

Haut Bailly (AG 95-97 JR 18 JS 98-99 WA 95-97)
€76.50

 

AG 95-97… Remarkably vivid for such a big wine. Firm beams of tannin give the 2015 much of its shape and overall energy, both of which the 2015 needs to balance its superb concentration. Sweet floral and spice notes give lift to the unctuous red cherry jam, pomegranate and blueberry flavors. The 2015 is likely to need quite a bit of time to come together, but it is already a very special wine. Even with all of its obvious depth, the 2015 retains gorgeous freshness.

JR 18…Very dark, luscious colour - one of the most distinctive colours of all! Savoury and not forced but awfully attractive. Round and fresh. Very nicely assembled. Definitely Graves. Long and very 'cashmere'! Real lift yet intensely ripe fruit too. Very neat!

JS 98-99…This is a vivid and powerful red with lots of bright fruit and spice character. Full body, chewy tannins and loads of fruit on the finish. Firm and focused tannins. Lots of energy and vibrance. Spice and violet leaf undertone. Pure fruit. Pure structure.

WA 95-97… Deep in color, the bouquet is very intense with multilayered blackberry, blueberry, crème de cassis and subtle black olive aromas, introverted at first but soon racing out of the blocks with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe, quite firm tannin. This is an Haut-Bailly with real backbone, real sense of purpose. It could have tipped over into being overpowering due to that intense Merlot, but the acidity keeps everything in check and the finish demonstrates wonderful tension. In particular, the aftertaste is incredibly long in the mouth. This Haut Bailly is up there with the 2009 and 2010 - a bravura Pessac-Léognan destined for long-term ageing.

Haut Brion (AG 95-97 AWL 97-99 JR 18.5 JS 97-98 WA 98-100)
€449.00

AG 95-97…. Shaping up to be one of the wines of the vintage. Thrust, power and pure intensity come through loud and clear in the crème de cassis, blackberry jam, smoke, licorice and graphite flavors. Soaring aromatics and layers of intense fruit, all supported by a beam of firm tannin make the 2015 a wonderfully complete wine that will drink well for many, many decades. The unctuous fruit and baby fat will need time to melt away, but there is little doubt this is a magical wine with huge potential for the future. The purity of flavors and textures will take your breath away.

AWL 97-99…. Deep opaque ruby. Leather, stony fruit, spices and graphite nose Full bodied, great complexity and concentration. Deep core of ripe fruit, chocolate and ends with a superfine long finish. Impressive.

JR 18.5…. Much more aromatic than La Mission. Lovely silky tannins but masses of them. Very strict and savoury. Really dense but manages to be expressive and convincing. A megalith.

JS 97-98…. A structured and powerful Haut-Brion with so much finesse and beauty. Complex and long. It’s full and ultra-refined. Super length and polish. A formed and sexy Haut Brion.

WA 98-100…. It has a heavenly bouquet that like the La Mission bestows instant gratification - a veritable kaleidoscope of aromas so crystalline that you can pick them out one by one: dark plum, blackcurrant, Kalamata olive and graphite. It is tempting to just nose this all day. The palate has an indescribably stunning balance and like the La Mission, there is a paradoxical sense of intensity married to weightlessness. Everything here is so precise, so pure and yet as it crescendos towards the finish, it offers a profundity that is unmatched across Bordeaux in this vintage.

Haut Brion Blanc (AG 94-97 AWL 98 JR 18 JS 96-97 WA 94-96 )
€695.00

AG 94-97…. Brings together freshness with power like few wines in this vintage. Lemon confit, white flowers, mint and ripe orchard fruit all open up in the glass. In this vintage, the white is Sauvignon Blanc dominated, but it doesn’t taste like it at all. Beams of salinity give the 2015 its focus and energy through the finish. This is a stellar showing.

AWL 98…. Very complex, rich and long. Amazing.

JR 18… Dense and lively. Turbo-charged Sauvignon! Some real elegance and lift - honey and the race of Sauvignon. Expressive.

JS 96-97… Dense and very powerful with reserve and seamless phenolic. Full body, sliced apple and lemon rind. So long and flavorful. A beautiful and balanced wine. Undertones of oyster shell and stone. Excellent as always.

WA 94-96…. The bouquet was quite backward despite rigorous aeration, reluctantly proffering aromas of lime, citrus lemon, gooseberry and a touch of tinned peach. The palate is very well balanced with a fine line of acidity, perhaps even more tensile and precise than the 2015 La Mission Haut-Brion with greengage, citrus lemon and a touch of pineapple furnishing the long finish. This is a beautifully crafted Haut Brion Blanc that will reward those with the nous to cellar it for 10-15 years.

Malartic Lagraviere (AG 95-97 JR 17 JS 96-97 WA 94-96 WS 91-94)
€39.60

 

AG 95-97…. A total rock star. Deep, powerful and exotic, the 2015 sweeps across the palate with stunning richness and intensity. The creamy voluptuousness of the vintage is on full display. Rich, unctuous and also super-expressive, the 2015 is bursting at the seams with intensity. Dark cherry, mocha, plum and spice notes meld into the huge, effortless finish. This is an utterly thrilling wine from Malartic Lagravière, but it is also tightly wound and in need of serious cellaring.

JR 17…. Dark crimson. Lively, putty nose - very lifted on the nose but then rather rich and sweet on the palate. Appetising, really mineral finish. Good stuff.

JS 96-97…. This shows fabulous depth of fruit and ripe tannins that last for minutes. Full body. Insane finish. Powerful. Greatest ever from here.

WA 94-96…. It has a tightly wound bouquet, a little more reticent than its peers at first, opening gradually with blackberry, raspberry coulis and strawberry pastilles. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, a keen line of acidity, fresh and brisk with plenty of mineralité on the finish. This is a classic, serious Malartic with huge potential. Chapeau to the Bonnie family for creating a stupendous Pessac-Léognan.

WS 91-94…. Offers a sleek, fresh feel, with plum and cassis notes streaming along, carried by a tarry hint. Stays lively through the defined finish.

Malartic Lagraviere Blanc (AG 91-94 JR 16.5 JS 95-96 WA 94-96 WS 91-94)
€42.00

AG 91-94…. Fresh, energetic and vibrant, with plenty of green apple, mint and white pepper overtones. Varietal Sauvignon character is front and center in this gorgeous dry white. The 2015 was fermented in barrel (65% new), and yet the oak is judiciously balanced. This is a striking wine from Malartic-Lagravière.

JR 16.5…. Smells sweeter than most of its peers. Not quite the attack and acidity that I'd like but good extract. Likely to be early maturing?

JS 95-96…. A fresh white with sliced green apple, lemon rind and cream. Full body, bright acidity and a long and flavorful finish. Layered and very dense. Wonderful backbone.

WA 94-96… It has a crisp, vibrant, quite minerally bouquet, cold limestone and subtle patisserie/almost whipped cream-like scents. The palate is very well defined with a crisp line of acidity, citrus lemon and lime fanning out with confidence on the finish that completes one of the best Malartic-Lagravière whites that I have encountered at this stage.

WS 91-94…. Rich but energetic, with gooseberry, fennel and yellow apple notes forming the core, offset by bracing salted butter and thyme accents.

La Mission Haut-Brion (AG 94-97 AWL 96-98 JR 18.5 JS 100-100 WA 97-99 )
€339.00

AG 94-97…. Translucent and deeply expressive to the core. Remarkably polished for such a young wine, the 2015 also handles its 15% alcohol with grace. Smoke, graphite, tar, leather and incense, the 2015 exudes intensity allied to freshness, a combination that makes it virtually irresistible in my book. The 2015 is also remarkably nuanced for such a big wine, but it has tremendous persistence in all directions. Scents of rose petal, mint, red cherry and pomegranate meld into the voluptuous finish.

AWL 96-98…. Opaque purple ruby. Cassis, minerals, gentle spices and herb aromas. Gobs of fruit and great stony flavours. Excellent spicy finish. High tannin levels.

JR 18.5… Very dark and glamorous-looking. Fairly dumb nose but obviously great weight and intensity. A big brooding monster! Massive charge of tannins. Big and pretty alcoholic on the end. Not very communicative at the moment. Lots of palate-tanning tannins. After a while in the glass, a whiff of cordite emerged. Sorcery?!

JS 100-100… The purity in this wine is really mindblowing. So perfect. Licorice. Stone. Blackberry, blueberry. Full body. The power is amazing. But then it finishes etheral and so agile and beautiful. I am lost for words. This will rank with the best ever from here including 1975 and 1929. 58% merlot, 35% cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc.

WA 97-99… An incredibly pure bouquet with intense blueberry, blackberry, iodine and cold stone aromas that soar from the glass. There is nothing holding back here - a La Mission with real exuberance. The palate is medium-bodied with incredible intensity in the mouth, but without any leaden weight. It is a startling La Mission Haut-Brion to behold at this early stage. It is one of those wines where as a professional critic, I had to adopt a poker face to hide the untrammeled joy this nascent wine imparts. Complete and profound, the 2015 will rank as one of the great modern-day classics from this grand estate, another to add to that long list of magical La Missions.

La Mission Haut Brion Blanc (AG 93-96 AWL 96-98 JR 17 JS 97-98 WA 92-94)
€539.00

AG 93-96…. Deep, powerful and intense, yet with no excess heaviness. A vertical, structured white, the 2015 possesses remarkable depth along with a spherical expression of fruit that is a joy to behold. The aromatics haven't begun to develop yet, but there is time for that. Plenty of time. This is an especially rich, concentrated white that is going to require a bit of bottle age to offer its finest drinking.

AWL 96-98…. Ripe and round. Exotic fruit. Long and fresh.

JR 17…. Floral, honeyed nose. Big but with sufficient acidity and race. Clearly lots of alcohol (more than 14.5%). Heat on the end. Big AND crisp! A bit harsher than La Clarté de Haut-Brion.

JS 97-98….Very balanced and fresh with stone and dried peach aromas and flavors. Very aromatic. Full body, fine phenolics and licorice. Show power and richness.

WA 92-94… An attractive bouquet with lime, Granny Smith apples, orange zest and cold stone, well defined if not the most complex that I have encountered over the years. The palate is lively on the entry with fine tension and impressive intensity, spicy on the tip of the tongue, almost fiery, with the Semillon dominating the finish and lending the complexity: hints of dried pineapple, almond and Cornice pear. This is an excellent La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, but it needs a few years for the aromatics to really open, just as Laville Haut-Brion did in the old days.

 

Pape Clement (AG 93-96 AWL 93-94 JR 16.5 JS 97-98 WA 95-97 WS 93-96
€65.00

AG 93-96…. Stunningly beautiful. Rich, ample and powerful, the 2015 exudes richness. As always, Pape Clément is one of the most overt wines in Pessac, but the move towards picking a bit earlier gives the wine more energy than was the norm a decade ago without fundamentally altering the style Bernard Magrez and Michel Rolland favour. Dark red cherry, plum, menthol, licorice, blood orange and exotic spices are all very much alive. The purity of the fruit here is striking. This is one of the best recent vintages of Pape Clément I have tasted.

AWL 93-94…. Smoke, black cherries, earth and sweet minerals nose. Medium to full bodied. Juicy, luscious and expressive. Quite elegant.

JR 16.5…. Very dark. Sweet yet fresh - very beguiling initially but maybe a little overdone. Intense and almost as though concentrated. Rather dry on the end. Hard work on the end.

JS 97-98…. Shows amazing depth of fruit with fabulous polish and length. Electric acidity. Full body, very integrated and refined tannins. Phenolic finesse shows here. Great finish. It lasts for minutes. Best young Pape Clément I have tasted. Grows in the glass.

WA 95-97…. It has a drop-dead gorgeous bouquet that continues the ever greater finesse that has been imparted into this Pape-Clément in recent years. It is extremely precise, almost crystalline. The palate is underpinned by fine tannin, pitch-perfect acidity, a sense of cohesion and harmony that is outstanding. There is not a hair out of place on this barrel sample and it will doubtless evolve into one of the best wines this state has produced since the 14th century, when Bertrand de Goth was planting its first vines. This comes highly recommended - a Pape-Clément that will reward those who can resist temptation and cellar this wine for 10+ years.

WS 93-96…. Big, broad and overt in style, with a thick frame of espresso and roasted apple wood around a core of dense plum paste and cassis flavors. Strides along authoritatively, as melted licorice and fruitcake notes fill in on the hefty finish. Shows more style than terroir, but pulls it off.

Pape Clement Blanc (AG 93-96 AWL 94-96 JR 17+ JS 95-96 WA 92-94 WS 92-95)
€105.00

AG 93-96… Remarkably vivid for such a big wine. Sweet, open and expansive, the 2015 graces the palate with layers of baked apple, ripe pear, candied lemon. Most of the wine was vinified in oak, which gives the Blanc its shape, texture and volume. Exotic flowers, mint, orchard fruit and chamomile are some of the signatures, but it is the wine's energy and tension allied to the natural phenolic intensity of this site that is most compelling. The decrease in Sémillon and a move towards larger format barrels are two of the recent developments here. This is a head-spinning white from Bernard Magrez and his team.

AWL 94-96… Gorgeous aromatics. Good depth and length. Well balanced with great juice.

JR 17…. Big and bold on the nose. Very rich, almost sweet, and then, for the moment, the crisp citrus bit on the finish is not (yet?) integrated. Quite a show stopper but possibly too big and rich to marry with food easily.

JS 95-96…So dense and powerful. Layered and chewy. Phenolic. Full body, dried apple and pear. Pineapple too. Goes on for minutes.

WA 92-94… The nose is actually more introverted than the deuxième vin at the moment, but the complexity is locked in via shucked oyster shell and citrus notes. The palate is extremely well balanced with a keen line of acidity that imparts tension and freshness. This is a succinctly crafted white Bordeaux, almost understated at first, but it is only when it departs down the throat that its quality become apparent. Like the aforementioned deuxième vin, this comes highly recommended.

WS 92-95… This relies on a fairly obvious oak treatment, with lush macadamia, butter and brioche notes coating the core of creamed apple and melon flavors. Shows threads of verbena and chamomile, but they’re way in the background. For fans of the style only.

Smith Haut Lafitte (AG 93-96+ JR 18 JS 97-98 WA 95-97 WS 94-97)
€67.50

AG 93-96… Dark, powerful and towering, the 2015 exudes richness and a level of intensity in all directions that is remarkable. This is an especially dark, brooding Grand Vin built on serious depth, intensity and structure, and yet there is more than enough richness in the fruit to balance things out. The extreme heat of the year appears to have baked out some of the aromatic nuance. It will be interesting to see if that dimension opens up. For now, the 2015 is massively shut down.

JR 18…. Very dark. Comfortable base and lots of perfume. Round and sweet. Tense and tight. An excitingly taut package that promises well.

JS 97-98… This is a very polished and precise young wine with beautiful depth and intensity. Full and sexy. It shows blueberry and black currant character with walnut and chocolate undertones. The tannins have a lovely texture. Joy to taste.

WA 95-97…. A very intense, blueberry and crème de cassis scented bouquet, a touch more opulent than its peers with hints of freshly shucked oyster shell developing with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin couched in gorgeous, satin-textured black cherry and cassis fruit, tinged with cedar and pencil shavings. It lingers very long and sensually in the mouth, completing a sophisticated and powerful Smith Haut-Lafitte that should age in splendid fashion.

WS 94-97…. Ripe and succulent in feel, with warm plum and blackberry confiture notes leading the way. Picks up singed alder and tar details through the finish, gaining extra depth. Very pure, but with ample grip in reserve. A serious wine.

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (AG 92-95+ JR 17 JS 96-97 WA 94-96 WS 95-98)
€70.00

AG 92-95+… Powerful and intense, but also incredibly young at this stage. There is notable density and persistence throughout, but just like the red Grand Vin, the aromatic dimension in the wine has not yet developed. The wine's length and overall density are both impressive.

JR 17…. Broad and rich. Perfumed. Quite rich. Long and broad.

JS 96-97…. A beautiful white with pretty density and richness. Bright and clear with intense aromas and flavors of lilacs and stones. Some violet. Full and bright. Firm phenolic tension. Bright acidity.

WA 94-96…. It has a crisp, conservative bouquet, tightly wound at first, reticent even, though with a couple of minutes' swirling, it reveals intense fresh lime flower, pink grapefruit, guava and blood orange scents. The palate is extremely well balanced with a silver bead of acidity, a dab of sour lemon than cleanses the mouth, followed by pink grapefruit, citrus lemon and green apple notes towards the long finish. This is another outstanding white Smith-Haut-Lafitte from winemaker Fabien Tietgen and the famille Cathiard.

WS 95-98….This is a breed apart, featuring a wide range of verbena, chamomile and honeysuckle notes on the floral side, flavors of lemon curd, white peach and star fruit at the core, and a long finish that ripples with salted butter, brioche and acacia details. Beautiful.

 

St Emilion

Angelus (AG 94-96 AWL 97-99 JR 17.5 JS 99-100 WA 95-97 )
€280.00

AG 94-96… One of the most powerful, vertical wines of the vintage. A rush of sweet floral and spice notes appear first, before waves of intense, inky/purplish fruit take hold of all the senses. The tannins need time to soften, probably quite a bit of time, but there is no denying the wine's sheer beauty. I came back to the 2015 several hours later and found a wine that had blossomed beautifully with air. The 2015 will be magnificent once the tannins soften. Readers will have to be patient, as that is likely to take a decade-plus to happen.

AWL 97-99… Opaque black purple. Earth, tobacco, cedar, spice box and black fruit nose. Velvety, super pure, clean and exotic character. Outstanding wine!

JR 17.5… Extremely dark purplish crimson. Light nose but masses of sweet concentration on the palate. Nothing exaggerated. Just rather drying tannins on the end at the moment. Like Carillon d'Angélus, it has a slight bitterness on the finish but has clearly been made with no shortage of ambition. For the long term.

JS 99-100… This shows the purity of Angelus. I have never tasted a wine from here with such incredible clarity. Full body, full fruit and full beauty. Super silky tannins. A joy to taste. Makes you want to drink it. 62% merlot and 38% cabernet franc.

WA 95-97… It offers a complex array of aromas such as black cherry, camphor, oyster shells and Japanese nori, beautifully defined and very focused. The palate is medium-bodied but powerful with layer of svelte tannins and a keen thread of acidity; layers of black fruit laced with spices, baking powder, mint and white pepper. It feels long in the mouth, insistently clinging for a minute after the wine has departed. Oh là là. This is a sexy, but compelling Angelus, fit for "007" and wine-lovers everywhere.

Ausone (AG 97-100 JR 18.5 JS 100-100 WA 95-97)
€598.00

 

AG 97-100…. The embodiment of class. A seamless, mind-blowing wine, the Ausone boasts extraordinary purity and finesse. The flavors are deep and unctuous throughout, and yet the wine is remarkably vivid. A host of sweet floral notes and exotic spices are fused into the eternal finish. In 2015, Ausone is as good as it gets. Readers who can find the 2015 should not hesitate, as it is truly magnificent. All I can tell readers is that it took the most extraordinary discipline to spit this wine during my tasting. It is every bit that profound.

JR 18.5… Dark crimson with some purple. Real class and concentration on the nose - all vineyard, surely. Brisk yet very opulent. Lots of drive and no oak in evidence. Very fine. Very long.

JS 100-100… A mindbinder of a wine with pure fruit and so much fine tannins and mineral character. It’s hyper tight and super polished. The palate starts off slowly and ends with a bang. Amazing endless finish. What an energy.

WA 95-97…. a very intense bouquet of small dark cherries, cassis, violets and incense, a hint of blood orange originating from the Merlot tucked underneath. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin, seamlessly integrated oak. It is an intense Saint Emilion with a superb arching structure on the finish, while maintaining sufficient freshness from start to finish. It grips the mouth a little more than some of its peers, implying that it will need longer in bottle, but it will be worth the wait. Patience advised for this great Ausone courtesy of Alain and Pauline Vauthier.

Beausejour Duffau (AG 95-98 JR 17 JS 98-99 WA 91-93 WS 92-95)
€81.00

 

AG 95-98… Massive concentration and fabulous persistence, all supported by a vertical spine of tannin that is impossible to miss. Hints of graphite, smoke and licorice struggle to emerge from a huge wall of fruit and tannin. This is another wine that will require considerable patience.

JR 17… Very dark crimson. Brooding and vibrant on the nose. Sweet and fully ripe - almost Pomerol-like in its intensity. Big and bold. Even a bit brutal.

JS 98-99… I don’t know what to say here other than it’s better than any BDL I drank since 1989 including the 1990. There’s a transparency and beauty like a rainbow. Full body, extremely long and bright. Super fine tannins. Pure fruit.

WA 91-93… Very intense, quite opulent bouquet with fig-tinged red cherry fruit, hints of kirsch and glycerin. The palate likewise shows more refinement and class, the tannins fine and the acidity well judged. It has a fresh finish, though it just needs to muster a touch more tension and sense of energy right on the finish. Let's see what happens during its élevage, because it has the materials to turn into a very fine Saint Emilion.

WS 92-95… Offers lovely richness, with a very caressing feel to the layers of warm plum compote and boysenberry confiture. Underneath all the fruit is a very fine-edged chalky thread, yet the feeling overall is velvety and lush. A beauty.

Belair Monange (AG 95-98 AWL 95-97 JR 17.5+ JS 98-99 WA 95-97 )
coming soon

AG 95-98…. A striking bouquet endowed with the essence of graphite, smoke, licorice and tobacco is pure allure. Vertical on the palate, with soaring tannins and tons of structure, the 2015 possesses remarkable intensity to match its explosive, energetic personality. Even with all of its size, the 2015 remains incredibly nuanced and finessed throughout. Today, it is one of the most exciting wines of the year.

AWL 95-97…. Dark puple / ruby. Herbs, crème de cassis and forest fruit aromas. Spicy notes with complex and concentrated palate. Delicious. Minerally and sweet finish.

JR 17.5… Extremely dark. Very heady, very dramatic. So unlike the Bélair and Magdelaine of old! Small berries (tastes as though) and very concentrated. Thick and ambitious. Quite a play! Halfway between the J-P Moueix restraint and the more alcoholic style that has been modern St-Émilion.

JS 98-99…. Incredible depth of fruit to this wine with ultra-powerful tannins that remain agile and soft. So much intensity. It’s layered with ripe fruit and caressing mouth feel. Neoclassical in style. Mostly merlot with a touch of cabernet franc.

WA 95-97… It has a reticent bouquet at first, but it soon opens up with layers of blackberry, raspberry coulis, orange sorbet and floral aromas. This is beautifully defined and intellectual, a Saint Emilion with aromatic secrets that will only be revealed with bottle age. The palate is medium-bodied with quite sturdy tannin. There is a firm backbone to this Belair-Monange, a serious Saint Emilion, complex and intellectual with precise red and black fruit, a touch of spice and a dash of white pepper on the finish. Dare I say, it represents the first Belair-Monange that ranks among JP Moueix's finest wines since the family acquired the property in 2011.

Bellevue Mondotte (AG 93-96 AWL 94-95 JR 17 JS 98-99 WA 91-93 WS 91-94)
€120.00

 

AG 93-96… As always, the most massive and virile of the Perse wines. A vertical spine of tannin gives the Bellevue Mondotte its distinctive personality, even if the richness of the vintage has softened some of the contours just a bit. A host of dark, balsamic-inflected notes hit the palate first. Black cherry, plum, crème de cassis, smoke and grilled herbs are pushed forward. Intense veins of chalk salinity extend the mid-palate into the long, beautifully articulated finish. Bellevue Mondotte tends to get lost in the Perse lineup, perhaps because this is the family's smallest site, but it is superb.

AWL 94-95…. Black colour. Oaky nose. Very tannic.

JR 17…. Blackish crimson. Sweet black fruits on the nose. Very round. The fruit masks the tannin completely. Limestone stoniness on the end.

JS 98-99… This has a focus and intensity that I haven’t seen before. I goes wide in the palate and then compresses with great precision and beauty. Full and excellent. So great. Best I ever had from here.

WA 91-93… It has a very powerful and intense bouquet with sweet ripe blueberry, boysenberry jam and honey-like aromas that almost knock you sideways. The palate is medium-bodied with sweet ripe tannin, not as tannic or as aggressive as I have occasionally discerned this wine, a little gentler and caressing towards the velvety smooth finish that just needs a little more personality to come through. It is always a brute out of barrel, but tends to mellow with bottle age, so don't even think about approaching this young.

WS 91-94… A lush, modern style, with plum sauce and raspberry påte de fruit flavors backed by a broad swath of melted red licorice and sweet spice notes. Features the caressing feel of the vintage as well.

Canon (AG 96-98 JR 17.5+ JS 100-100 WA 98-100 WS 94-97)
coming soon

AG 96-98… One of the undisputed stars of the vintage. An utterly mesmerizing wine, Canon has it all; alluring aromatics; towering structure, fabulous depth, and exceptional balance. The aromas and flavors are remarkably nuanced for such a big wine. Waves of graphite, exotic spices, smoke, herb, licorice, violets and crème de cassis appear at every angle as this utterly profound Saint-Émilion shows off its pedigree. So far I have tasted the 2015 four times. It has never been anything less than sensational. Quite simply, Canon is one of the few truly must-have wines of 2015. It is every bit that memorable.

JR 17.5… Strong hint of iodine on the nose. Very luscious and supple at first and then with massive velvety tannins and almost dried-fruit sweetness and concentration. Bravo!

JS 100-100… This is the greatest red ever produced here, even better than the great wines of the 1950s and 1960s. Full body yet tight and reserved. Superbly refined tannins. Yet rich and flamboyant. Fruity yet salty and minerally. Electric finish. Stone and chalk undertones. A wonder of a young wine.

WA 98-100… Lucid in color, it has an intense bouquet that exudes extraordinary purity with scents of raspberry, wild strawberry, limestone and violets. It makes a huge impression. The palate is medium-bodied and multilayered with vivacious red and black fruit infused with minerals. The acidity lends the tension here from start to finish, but what this Canon possesses unlike the dozens of other vintages that I have tasted, is an overarching structure that will see it age in similar fashion to past classics such as the 1929, 1947 and 1964. It lingers very long in the mouth, the oak just surfacing a little on the aftertaste, although that will be subsumed with time. This estate has been in the ascendant in recent vintages under winemaker John Kolasa and now Nicolas Audebert, together with a benevolent growing season, has elevated Canon to a level that few could have predicted.

WS 94-97… This delivers a pretty awesome display of blueberry, plum and raspberry fruit, both in its purity and depth, while the finish is carried by a very refined minerality. Large-scaled for sure, but seriously pure.

Canon La Gaffeliere (AG 95-97 JR 17 JS 96-97 WA 93-95 WS 94-97)
€63.50

 

AG 95-97… Endowed with considerable richness and a sense of vertical structure. The significant presence of Cabernet Franc gives the wine striking aromatic lift, which it very much needs. Mocha, red cherry jam and sweet floral notes give the 2015 its soaring perfume. This exceptionally beautiful Saint-Émilion is going to need time to fully come together, but it is super-impressive, even in the early going.

JR 17… Purplish crimson. Quite heady. Lots of Cabernet leafiness (picked up to 6 October). Racy, sinewy. Far from a blockbuster.

JS 96-97… Very tight yet shows wonderful cream and lemon rind texture. Full and powerful with walnut and spice character. Linear and focused. 55% merlot, 37% cabernet franc and 8% cabernet sauvignon.

WA 93-95… It has another "cool" bouquet, a common thread among Comte Stephan Von Neipperg's 2015s - very restrained at first, nicely focused and gradually revealing undergrowth and even a subtle charcoal scent (probably from the Cabernet Sauvignon). The palate is medium-bodied with black fruit laced with graphite and cedar, the Cabernet brothers really defining the character of this Saint Emilion and edging it towards say, more Figeac in style. This is a fascinating 2015, more cerebral than previous vintages that I have tasted over the years.

WS 94-97… Dark and winey, with currant paste and fig notes backed by slightly briary grip and an ample dose of toast. There’s good energy here and nice vivacity, despite the darker profile today, and this should easily round into form after the élevage.

Chapelle d’Ausone (AG 90-93+ JR 16 JS 95-96 WA 91-93)
€148.00

AG 90-93… Lavender, mint, violet, smoke, licorice and blueberry notes grace the palate. An exquisite, understated wine, the Chapelle is all finesse today. The sweetness and ripeness of the year are evident, yet the 2015 retains striking focus throughout. Fine, silky tannins wrap around the inviting finish. What a gorgeous wine this is.

JR 16… Very round and mellow. No rough edges and a good balance of ripe fruit and freshness. Some drying tannins on the end. Very opulent and seductive. Purple fruit flavours.

JS 95-96… This is really intense and powerful with fantastic energy and character. So much dark berry and walnut character. Full and chewy. Yet polished. Second wine of Ausone.

WA 91-93… The nose is a little broody at first, a touch of mintiness coming through the black cherry and cassis scents. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of dark chocolate on the entry, plenty of cassis fruit, fine tannin with a gentle grip towards the finish that feels a little more structured than recent vintages. This will probably offer 8-10 years' pleasure, possibly more.

Cheval Blanc (AG 95-97 JR 18.5+ JS 96-97 WA 97-99)
€555.00

 

AG 95-97… A wine of total finesse, the 2015 Cheval Blanc speaks to understatement above all else. Sweet floral notes meld into a core of bright red stone fruits and mint. Silky, nuanced and wonderfully persistent on the palate, the 2015 possesses remarkable depth, but in an understated fashion. There is plenty of tannin buried beneath the fruit. The 2015 is not an obvious Cheval Blanc, but rather a sublime wine that will only start to blossom with a decade plus in bottle. It will drink well for decades beyond that.

JR 18.5… Very sweet almost balsam nose. Very distinctive! Really fine with lovely tannins. Lots of ripe fruit and masses of tannin as well as ripeness. The alcohol is only just moderate enough. Very dramatic without being at all exaggerated. Some red pepper powder notes.

JS 96-97…. A Cheval with a depth and finesse that reminds me of the 1998. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and amazing length and beauty. Such finesse and harmony. Super silky and classic for Cheval Blanc.

WA 97-99… A very complex bouquet, subtle and tightly wound, very precise with dark berry fruit, hints of graphite, minerals and a hint of black pepper, perhaps a little spicier than recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with extraordinarily fine tannin. Beautifully balanced, perfectly controlled, this Cheval Blanc gently builds in the mouth, but remains strict and precise. The Cabernet Franc here is very expressive (though apparently the Merlot was showier prior to malolactic). This is an intellectual Cheval Blanc, thoroughly enjoyable, but it will need 10-12 years to really show its pedigree. A profound wine in the making, it will rank with the great wines of the past.

Clos Fourtet (AG 93-96 JR 17 JS 96-97 WA 95-97 WS 94-97)
€76

 

AG 93-96… Unusually rich and sumptuous in this vintage. Exotic aromatics, a huge core of fruit and ample, soft contours give the 2015 much of its striking personality. Although quite racy and unctuous today, the 2015 is going to need a number of years to shed its baby fat before it is even close to showing all it has to offer.

JR 17… A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Lively and fresh on the nose. Great balance and fruit. Dry on the end but very classic.

JS 96-97… This is very velvety and flamboyant with a sexy mouthfeel and rich and delicious fruit. Exotic and more-ish. All there. So much fun to taste.

WA 95-97… It has a voluminous bouquet with sweet cassis and blueberry aromas, rather smudged with violets coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with rounded tannin, ripe and voluptuous, dark chocolate infusing the red and black fruit with a touch of mint on the structured, graceful finish. What a fabulous Saint Emilion from Mathieu Cuvelier and his team - Clos Fourtet with breeding and class. It deserves 5-8 years in bottle.

WS 94-97… Enticing, with raspberry, plum and boysenberry fruit taking hold from the start, followed by lively spice and black tea notes. The finish is threaded with a fine chalky spine. Focused and refined.

Figeac (AG 93-96 AWL 97-98 JR 18 JS 97-98 WA 97-99 WS 94-97)
€120.00

 

AG 93-96… A blast of tannin hits the palate first followed by waves of inky purplish fruit, exotic spices, new leather, lavender and mint. Beams of pulsating acidity and structure give the 2015 much of its super-distinctive personality. The 2015 is powerful and built to age, that much is clear. In 2015, Figeac brings together the generosity of the year with the classic sense of structure that is so unique to Figeac, with a touch greater polish that Michel Rolland has brought since he arrived.

AWL 97-98… Pitch black colour with deep purple hue. Cassis, limestone, black plums, dried herbs and olives on nose. Generous palate with great precision, texture, juciness, density and complexity. There is great substance and ripeness here. Impressive.

JR 18… Lovely combo of opulence and freshness. The Cabernet Sauvignon surely helps. Real drive and Figeac character. Real savour. Sappy.

JS 97-98… This is the most structured Figeac in modern times. I tasted wines from this estate from the 1920s and 1910s but this is something. Full and powerful. Pure and focused. Extracted Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc.

WA 97-99…. The Cabernet comes through strongly on the nose - classic Figeac in many ways - black fruit, a touch of cassis, pencil and a touch of rose petal. The palate is drop-dead gorgeous, its foundation a lattice of filigree tannin and perfectly judged acidity. It is very fresh from its vivacious start to its pencil-lead finish imbued with effortless grace. It is almost comical that naysayers decried that Michel Rolland would turn Figeac into some kind of fruit bomb. Head winemaker Frédéric Faye has overseen a tip-top classic Figeac without any of the greenness that occasionally affected older vintages, now boasting a level of precision up there with the very best in the Right Bank. It was difficult to find fault with this quite astonishing Saint Emilion and who knows what could transpire once it is in bottle.

WS 94-97… This has eye-opening power and depth, with a well of currant, fig and blackberry fruit that is supported by fresh tobacco and warm stones notes. Grippy through the finish, with a loam note adding more bass, this still stays focused and integrated.

Larcis Ducasse (AG 94-97 JR 17 JS 98-99 WA 94-96 WS 93-96)
€53.00

 

AG 94-97… One of the stars of the vintage, the 2015 Larcis Ducasse is intensely aromatic, silky and totally sensual from the very first taste. The purity of the fruit here is striking. Even so, it will be many years before the 2015 is ready to show all it's got. Today, it is the wine's total sense of harmony that is absolutely alluring. A rush of raspberry jam, pomegranate and blood orange leaves a lasting impression. The 2015 is a dramatic, richly-textured Larcis Ducasse long on class and pedigree.

JR 17…. Intense but mellow nose. Rich and round on the palate with some zest. A light animal note gives this drama. But it's not forced. Just a slight vegy note on the end.

JS 98-99…. Hard to believe this. It has a minerality and intensity like a great white wine with so much chalky character that it gives an oyster shell flavor. Full and racy. Shaking my head in intrigue. Wonderfully silky tannins.

WA 94-96… It has an intense nose of raspberry preserve, boysenberries and an almost honeyed-like richness that thankfully retains freshness and delineation, when it could have been over-powering. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, a little grainy in texture, very well-balanced and graceful, gently building to a convincing, quite minerally, blackberry and wild strawberry finish. There is superb terroir expression here, an excellent Larcis-Ducasse that should offer 3-4 decades of drinking pleasure.

WS 93-96… Lush, with velvety structure that lets the raspberry, plum and cassis fruit glide beautifully through the spice-tinged finish. Still very primal, but has length and fruit for days.

Monbousquet (AG 87-89 AWL 93-94 JR 16.5 JS 94-95 WA 90-92 WS 93-96)
€37.50

 

AG 87-89… dark and heavily extracted, with plenty of dark fruit and torrefaction notes. There is plenty of depth in the glass, but little freshness, while the overall expression is noticeably one-dimensional, especially next to the other wines in Gerard Perse's range.

AWL 93-94… Black purple. Grilled meat, black berries and mineral aromas. Plenty of jammy fruit. Very tannic.

JR 16.5… Exceptionally dark crimson. Deep-flavoured and mellow. Like fermented liqueur chocolates. Very tight on the end. A bit tough and charred on the end. Not my style - full marks for effort if not for achievement.

JS 94-95… Tight and structured with blackberry and blueberry character. Hints of almonds and spice. Full and savory. Velvety tannins.

WA 90-92… It has a ripe and sexy bouquet with black cherries, black olive and blueberry. The oak is nicely integrated here. The palate is full-bodied with saturated tannin, supple in the mouth, easy-going in some ways with a smooth rounded finish of licorice-tinged black fruit mixed with cassis and a hint of cedar, more evident on a second sample I tasted outside the château. What it needs is just more finesse and delineation but it should turn out nicely once in bottle.

WS 93-96… Dark and winey, with a large-scale core of cassis, plum and currant fruit, inlaid with dense yet polished structure. A gorgeous apple wood backdrop through the finish gives this a bit of muscle to match the fruit.

La Mondotte (AG 95-97 JR 16.5 JS 99-100 WA 94-96 WS 95-98)
€199.00

 

AG 95-97… A huge, unctuous wine, the 2015 is simply stunning. All the elements meld together in an effortless, concentrated wine endowed with magnificent intensity and power. Totally seamless in the glass, the 2015 possesses magnificent richness and the pedigree to age well for many years.

JR 16.5… Blackish crimson. Exotic, opulent nose. Not the massive wine of yesteryear. Quite controlled and just about enough refreshment. Chewy tannins on the end. Not so much my style as its stablemates Clos de l'Oratoire and Canon La Gaffelière, but some will prefer it. Unlikely to be such good value though. Awkward tannins on the end.

JS 99-100… A phenomenal La Mondotte. The purity and intensity is so amazing. Full body, super fine and creamy tannins. The clarity is great. You can see that they have pulled back on the new wood and went for transparency. Wow.

WA 94-96… It has a dense, opulent and very concentrated bouquet that is driven by the super-intense Merlot, though as I mention in my accompanying introduction, the alcohol is contained and not at all apparent. The palate is very well balanced with rounded, supple tannin. There is a lot of weight in the mouth here, very focused and intense with blackberry and raspberry fruit, fine mineralité and tension, leading to an almost pixelated finish.

WS 95-98… Gorgeous, with dark blackberry and boysenberry fruit rippling along from start to finish, carried by mouthwatering anise notes. The long finish unfurls slowly, dripping with fruit while maintaining poise. Stunning.

Pavie (AG 95-98 AWL 96-98 JR 17.5 JS 100-100 WA 96-98 WS 95-98)
€280.00

 

AG 95-98… One of the wines of the vintage, the 2015 Pavie is dense, powerful and seamless. A huge, spherical wine, even for the year, the 2015 exudes depth. Even with all of its intensity, the 2015 retains striking freshness and nuance, with plenty of bright red stone fruit and floral notes taking center stage. The super-extracted, oak-driven style that was such a Pavie signature a decade ago seems to be giving way to a more refined approach that showcases fruit, richness and purity.

AWL 96-98…. Black purple colour. Nose of black fruit, spices and grilled meat and new oak. Muscular and full-bodied. There is that aggressive Pavie style but there is also super-ripe fruit.

JR 17.5… Rich and silky. Blackish crimson. Massive build. Very sweet - but there is some freshness too. Very round tannins. More fluid and less astringent than many vintages.

JS 100-100… For me, this redefines Pavie. The depth and intensity and more important, the clarity, is really something. Full and ultra-fine tannins. It shows such great tannins and finesse. It is the essences of Pavie.

WA 96-98… It has a really quite glorious bouquet that is sensual and very well defined and pure. In my opinion, just dialing down the new oak even by 15% is allowing more personality and more terroir-expression to filter through. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe, lace-like tannins and a fine bead of acidity. It feels caressing and sensual in the mouth with superb mineralité and purity on the vivacious and sustained finish. This is unquestionably the best wine from Gérard Perse in 2015: a great Pavie with a very long life ahead, though I would cellar it for at least a decade to witness it in full flight.

WS 95-98… This delivers some serious fruit firepower, with blueberry, blackberry and plum notes that pump along authoritatively, pulling the creamy tannins along with them. Echoes of tobacco and violet emerge through the finish, along with a buried mineral accent. A contender for wine of the vintage on the Right Bank.

Pavie Decesse (AG 93-96 AWL 94-97 JR 17.5 JS 97-98 WA 93-95 WS 93-96)
€100.00

 

AG 93-96… Aromatically lifted, precise and nuanced, and yet there is plenty of underlying richness. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, blood orange and exotic flowers are front and center. Silky tannins and expressive, floral notes make the Pavie-Decesse the most feminine among Gerard Perse's three top Saint-Émilions, yet there is no shortage of intensity as well. The Pavie Decesse is unquestionably one of the most sexy, sensual wines of the vintage. This is pure class.

AWL 94-97… Very creamy texture. Big muscular fruit.

JR 17.5… Very deep, glowing crimson. Juicy and succulent. Just enough fruit to overwhelm the considerable tannins. Good freshness. No water stress on the limestone plateau apparently. Should soften. Impressive! Bonsai stuff.

JS 97-98…This shows a power and finesse at the same time with silky and refined tannins and a pretty. Such precision and length. Gorgeous, racy.

WA 93-95… The nose is backward at first and needed much encouragement in the glass, eventually revealing black cherries, crème de cassis, blood orange and almost honeyed aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with rounded tannin, a modest level of acidity, fine grained with a spicy finish that lingers with a peppery aftertaste. It is an assertive Pavie-Decesse, particularly at the end where it cannot compete with the 2015 Pavie in terms of clarity, but the components will come together with 4-5 years in bottle.

WS 93-96… Beautiful, with remarkably lush raspberry, plum and cassis flavors that glide over a substantial yet creamy structure. The finish has beautiful flow. Dressed for the ball, but stays refined thanks to minimal accessorizing.

Pavie Macquin (AG 93-96 JR 16.5+ JS 96-97 WA 91-93 WS 94-97)
€61.50

 

AG 93-96… Another tremendous wine from Nicolas Thienpont and his team. Inky, rich and voluptuous the 2015 is endowed with remarkable depth and plenty of underlying energy to back it all up. The flavors are dark, bold and incisive, as are the tannins. The 2015 is going to require quite a bit of time to come together, but it is impressive, that much is obvious.

JR 16.5… Sweet and rich on the nose. Then marked acidity on the palate. Rather different from and fresher than some earlier vintages.

JS 96-97… The purity of fruit and focus in this wine is so impressive. Full body, powerful and persistent. It goes on for minutes here.

WA 91-93… It has an almost decadent bouquet, perhaps more lascivious than the 2015 Larcis-Ducasse tasted alongside (as part of Nicolas Thienpont's "stable"), with fig-tinged red cherry and blackberry fruit, powerful but perhaps needing to muster a little more finesse? The palate is medium-bodied with a sweet core of citrus-fresh fruit. There is more nuance and precision here at the moment, fleshy and sensual with blood orange and cassis layered over the exuberant finish. It should be a delicious Saint Emilion this year, although I feel that the Larcis-Ducasse will have the sophistication and more longevity.

WS 94-97… A pure style, with a bright cassis aroma and a core of plum and bitter cherry notes, allied to a lightly chalky spine. Long and refined, showing lovely cut and precision.

Troplong Mondot (AWL 96-97 JS 96-97 WA 92-94 WS 93-96)
€92.00

AWL 96-97… Black purple. Ink-like, limestone, earth and mineral in the bouquet with mainly black fruit. Super creamy, silky texture with a great core of sweet fruit. Good extraction. Polished palate.

JS 96-97…. A luscious and rich red with blackberry, chocolate and walnut aromas and flavors. Full body, very harmonious and super bright. All about clarity. A majority of merlot with some cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.

WA 92-94… The nose was initially arresting with a carapace of toasty new oak, but it only takes several swirls of the glass for that to dissipate and leave scents of intense black fruit, crème de cassis, spice box and violets. It is verging on "heady" in style, powered along by that Merlot. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin, layers of ripe, sensual, lavish black fruit interlaced with black pepper and clove. The acidity binds everything together, maintains control through to the finish that fans out nicely. It leans towards the hedonistic style of Saint Emilion, but it is not pushed over the edge as I have found in previous recent vintages. What it needs to develop is just the charm and personality of the finest Saint Emilion wines this vintage.

WS 93-96… This has some exotic ripeness, with açaí berry and loganberry fruit pumping through, carried by substantial brambly tannins and backed by a long, spice- and black tea–infused finish. Shows power and range.

Clos de L'Oratoire (WA91-93 WS91-94 JR16.5 AG 92-94 JS 95-96)
€29.50

WA 91-93… Very pure dark cherry and blackberry fruit here, very "cool" aromatically and with several swirls of the glass it begins to find its voice. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin. There is good density here, very well balanced, very precise with perhaps the best tension on the finish that I have discerned in this particular Saint Emilion. This comes highly recommended.

WS91-94 Juicy and balled up for now, with a licorice note coating the plum and raspberry fruit flavors. Has a singed vanilla edge to the finish, though this shows signs of being absorbed by the bright fruit. Should unfurl nicely after the élevage. Likely a solid buy.

JR 16.5… Very dark crimson. Fresh salty nose. Really pretty sweet on the palate but there is (just) enough freshness. Not a big wine, but should give pleasure. Just very slightly drying on the end.

AG92-94… A real stand out, the2015 Clos de l'Oratoire is powerful yet also wonderfully focused. Beams of acidity and tannin give the 2015 its sense of direction, while expressive floral notes add considerable brightness. The 2015 is intense yet also impeccable in its balance. The purity and breadth of the Merlot is striking. Readers will have to be patient with the 2015, as it is one of the most intense, hulking wines of the year.

JS95-96 A depth and texture that is very unique for this estate with blackberry, stone and mineral undertones. Full and tight. Wonderful length and style. Precise.

Monbousquet Blanc (WA87-89 JS91-92)
coming soon

WA89-89… The 2015 Monbousquet Blanc is 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Muscadelle and 5% Semillon. It has an attractive nose with honeysuckle, citrus fruit and white flower aromas. The palate is nicely balanced with soft, lightly honeyed pear and grapefruit-tinged fruit, but it needs more tension to come through on the finish to really make its mark.

JS91-92.. A gorgeous white with sliced pear and apple with hints of pineapple. Full body, bright and clean.

AG89-91… The 2015 Monbousquet Blanc is an attractive white built on texture and generosity. Ripe apricot, mint, white flowers and chamomile open up nicely. The Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle give the Blanc much of its distinctive creaminess and body, along with exotic floral notes that brighten the finish. This is one of the richer whites readers will come across in 2015.

Quintus (JR 16.5 JS 96-97 WA 89-91 AG90-93)
€106.00

JR 16.5… Dark and rich on the nose. Big and bold. A bit more chunky and structured than the Dragon, the second wine named after the 6m-high dragon on the property. Not as charming as the second wine at this stage.

JS96-97… Crazy aromas of saffron, volcanic salt, hot stone, mushrooms, and wet earth. Then blueberry and blackberry undertones. Full body, super compressed and refined tannins. Powerful. Seamless and endless. 76% merlot and the rest cabernet franc.

WA92-94… It has an intense, lifted bouquet of violet-infused blueberry and blackberry fruit, very floral and vivacious. The palate is very well balanced with ripe, supple tannin that carry the pure black cherry and boysenberry fruit effortlessly. The acidity is very well judged and there is great precision towards the finish that leaves a residue of white pepper on the tongue.

AG90-93… The 2015 Quintus wraps around the palate with serious depth and intensity. Dark cherry, plum, chocolate and spices are some of the signatures. Sumptuous, rich and full-bodied, the 2015 is a decidedly big wine, yet it also possesses terrific overall balance for the vintage.

Le Carillon de l'Angelus WA 90-92 JR 16 JS 92-93 AG 90-92
€68.00

WA 90-92… It has a perfumed, marine-tinged bouquet, the lifted cassis fruit tinged with seaweed. The palate is medium-bodied with silky tannin, very well-judged acidity and very harmonious.

JR 16… 50% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep and purple-tasting somehow. Just a little bit bitter on the end.

JS 92-93… A racy second wine with blackberry, blueberry and chocolate aromas and flavors. Full body, firm tannins and a fresh finish.

AG 90-92… The 2015 Le Carillon d'Angélus is endowed with tremendous fruit intensity and power, especially for a second wine. A generous dose of Cabernet Franc adds aromatic lift throughout, but the Carillon remains voluptuous, intense and ready to provide plenty of near-term pleasure.

 

Pomerol

Certan de May (AG 92-95 AWL 92-94 JR 17.5 JS 97-98 WA 89-91 WS 91-94)
coming soon

AG 92-95… A powerful, imposing wine with notable tannic clout and plenty of energy. White pepper, blood orange and mint give the 2015 an attractive upper register of aromatic nuance, but it is the wine's sinewy, tense personality that is its most distinctive attribute.

AWL 92-94…. Cherry liqueur, cassis, floral fruit nose. That signature chocolate flavour. Good intensity yet with well-balanced structure.

JR 17.5…. Mid crimson. Intense and meaty on the nose. Round and silky on the palate. Not a drama queen but really quite regal in floating above the hoi polloi. Chapeau! Notably persistent.

JS 97-98…. Wow. What a wine with incredible depth of fruit and generosity here. Walnut, chocolate, black olive and dark fruits. Full and rich. It goes on for minutes. Velvety texture. Best in decades. A majority of merlot with some cabernet franc and a touch of cabernet sauvignon.

WA 89-91… It is a little leaner on the nose when I compared it directly to the Latour-à-Pomerol, much more reserved and personally, I was seeking more expression from the Cabernet components in the blend. The palate is medium-bodied with gently gripping tannin, quite "solid" in the mouth with a spicy finish following through, although it feels just a little static at the moment. It needs more animation to come through by the time it is in bottle.

WS 91-94… This has its usual silky, perfumed profile, with bergamot, cherry paste and rooibos tea notes, all backed by gentle sandalwood and fruitcake hints through the finish. Rounded and polished in feel, but long too, offering some fine-grained tannins.

Clinet (AG 94-96+ JR 17 JS 99-100 WA 95-97 WS 94-97)
€83.00

 

AG 94-96… An exotic, totally arresting beauty. Powerful, unctuous and inky to the core, the 2015 exudes richness. There is nothing subtle at all in this full-throttle, towering Pomerol. And yet all the elements are very nicely balanced. Blackberry jam, crème de cassis, licorice, graphite, dark spices, licorice and bittersweet chocolate are fused into rich, port-like finish. The 2015 is a bit extreme, but it is also compelling.

JR 17… Purplish. Almost overripe nose. Very velvety texture. More savoury than sweet on the palate. Hugely ambitious. Rather drying tannins on the end. Not my style but a very good example of the super-concentrated style.

JS 99-100… OMG. This is really dense and rich with velvety tannins and so much fruit and length. Super concentration and structure. Greatest Clinet ever. No jam. Just class.

WA 95-97…. Broody at first, it eventually develops a perfumed bouquet as it opens, with black fruit, melted tar and a brush of black truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. There is plenty of nascent energy in this Clinet, spicier than other vintages that I have tasted over the years, linear at first and then fanning out towards the finish with a dash of white pepper on the aftertaste. It is a very harmonious Clinet, one that I suspect will favor those with the nous to age this Pomerol for 5-7 years, even though it might tempt you earlier. This is a great Pomerol from Ronan Laborde and his team.

WS 94-97… The fleshy plum, blackberry and boysenberry fruit flavors sail along, gilded with a hint of anise and backed by velvety tannins. Shows serious length already and latent depth. A hedonistic wine in the making.

La Conseillante (AG 95-97 AWL 96-98 JR 17.5 JS 96-97 WA 95-97 WS 93-96)
€132.00

 

AG 95-97… A total knockout, the 2015 La Conseillante possesses stunning depth, nuance and complexity. Soaring aromatics meld into a core of dark-fleshed stone fruits, with hints of mocha, crème de cassis, menthol, violets and dark spices that develop in the glass. The 2015 is not an obvious wine, but it is exceptionally beautiful.

AWL 96-98… Deep garnet ruby. Spices, floral fruit, chocolate and dried herbs in the bouquet. Velvety texture with dense, ripe, fresh fruit. Lots of extract that it provides such excellent mouthfeel. Very long finish.

JR 17.5… Direct, savoury nose. New winemaker wants to keep the aromas of Conseillante but they want to add a little more grip. Sweet and fresh with some tea leaf aromas. The oak tannins are just perceptible but it should all calm down. Definitely quite grippy now!

JS 96-97… This is the most powerful La Conseillante I have tasted with lots of muscle and intensity. Full and savory. Chewy. Agile and formed. Beautiful ripe fruit in the center palate. This is a little pushed to the limit like the great Conseillants of the 1960s and 1970s.

WA 95-97… Here, I find a little more red fruit than black fruit, extremely elegant and articulating the terroir with great clarity. At first, wild strawberry and cranberry, then crushed stone, a touch of black truffle and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with fine tannin on the entry. This is one of the most approachable La Conseillante wines that I have tasted in barrel, the acidity very well judged, "classic" in style, good backbone here with a structured finish. It does not quite possess the bravura of the 2010 La Conseillante and I would agree with winemaker Marielle Cazaux that it bears more semblances to the 2005 La Conseillante at this stage, and even bore common traits with its neighbour, Vieux Château Certan. This is an intellectual and to put it prosaically, "delicious" La Conseillante.

WS 93-96… Lush notes of dark fig, boysenberry and blackberry pâte de fruit glide over ample but velvety tannins, with suave black tea and ganache accents. This is long and should be gorgeous when finished.

L’Eglise Clinet (AG 95-97 AWL 96-98 JR 17+ JS 98-99 WA 96-98 WS 94-97)
€198.00

 

AG 95-97… A wine that has it all, the 2015 is vertical, dense and also remarkably translucent, all at the same time. The purity, freshness and energy of the 2015 is remarkable and yet the wine has immense depth. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2015 carries considerable tannic heft.

AWL 96-98… Black opaque purple. Exotic, spicy black fruit, graphite and crushed stones on the nose. Intensly ripe fruit which is seductive and pure. Full bodied. Super long. 20% less production than average.

JR 17+… Quite soft. Perfumed - floral and possibly violet. Easy and friendly. Quite gentle tannins. Very sweet and round. 14.6% alcohol is not evident. An unexpectedly mild, well-mannered wine. Undramatic. Looks almost modest at this point.

JS 98-99…. Lively and energized. Full body, intense and dense tannins. Great wine. Goes on for minutes. Such focus and clarity.

WA 96-98… First from Darnajou barrel. Here, a very composed, effortless bouquet with extremely pure raspberry coulis, strawberry, almost confit-like scents that display ethereal delineation. This is not a powerful or intense bouquet, rather one that is sophisticated and refined, bunches of violet emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit, crisp acidity, mineral-rich and tensile. There is tangible energy and refinement on the finish that lingers long and tenderly in the mouth, a wine constantly having something more to say. The second came from Demptos barrel. This was deeper on the nose, showing a touch more fruit, slightly higher toned. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, structured in the mouth, perhaps the barrel impressing its character more on the wine than the Darnajou. Together, they should combine to create a quite magical 2015 L'Eglise-Clinet.

WS 94-97… Very restrained and graceful now, this has serious cut and persistence to the blood orange, bitter cherry and plum fruit flavors. Shows a minerally edge through the finish, with ample flesh that should expand a bit more with the élevage. Fresh and long.

L’Evangile (AG 94-97 AWL 96-98+ JR 17.5 JS 99-100 WA 96-98)
€165.00

AG 94-97… One of the highlights of the year, the 2015 L'Évangile is deep, powerful and intense, with remarkable concentration and plenty of power. Dark fruit, exotic spice and new leather are all pushed forward. A dramatic, towering wine, the 2015 is endowed with real density, big, but creamy tannins and exceptional balance, especially for a wine of its size.

AWL 96-98… Clack purple. Graphite, lead, black fruit and sweet spice aromas. Velvety, round and super ripe. So seductive and silky yet backed by a large frame. Great sweet tannins.

JR 17.5… Extremely dark crimson. Floral, opulent nose. Something quite masculine and leathery - animal? - on the nose. Lots of intensity and sweetness. Almost chocolatey! Tannins not quite integrated yet, but they are quite sandpapery. A little bit of heat on the end. A wine that takes you to the limit of sweetness.

JS 99-100…. What a wine here. It is so traditional and powerful with super depth of fruit and chewy tannins. Full body, incredible concentration and length. It’s so muscular and powerful. So minerally and nutty (walnuts). Marvelous.

WA 96-98… A very pure and charming bouquet, the Merlot dominant and slightly shrouding the Cabernet Franc at the moment. It is worth staying with this Pomerol, because it does change after four to five minutes in the glass, revealing touches of truffle and iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, understated on the entry but gaining momentum in the glass, retaining a wonderful sense of symmetry and finishing with precision and class. This could well be the pick of the wines from the Domaines Barons Rothschild stable in 2015 and kudos to winemaker Jean-Pascal Vazart.

La Fleur-Petrus (AG 94-97 AWL 94-96 JR 17 JS 99-100 WA 94-96 WS 95-98)
€148.00

 

AG 94-97… Exudes richness and concentration. Iron, savory herbs, white pepper and mint open up first, followed by intense, pungent tannins that extend the mid-palate into the finish and give the wine its shape. Unctuous and rich, but with good aromatic intensity and plenty of structure, the 2015 is likely to require quite a few years to fully come together.

AWL 94-96… Black fruit, earth, minerals and hint of minty notes. Silky and seductive palate. Good depth. Very serious. Spicy and grippy finish.

JR 17… Notably dark crimson. Very complex and layered (from all those parcels!). Lifted and sweet but not heavy and rich. Even a little light and polished. Fun, but not there yet.

JS 99-100… The power and depth of fruit here is extraordinary with incredible phenolic texture and caressing mouthf eel. Full and enticing. It’s a wine that shows power with finesse. Such contrast and greatness. 92% merlot, 7.5% cabernet franc and 0.5% petit verdot.

WA 94-96… It has a clean and precise bouquet with ebullient red cherry, blackcurrant and cold stone aromas that are very succinct. There is nothing showy here, but it is very refined and graceful. The palate is very well balanced with succulent ripe tannin, clean and precise, lightly spiced red fruit with outstanding focus and tension on the finish. This La Fleur Petrus has an effortless cool about it. I am sure it will be wondrous once in bottle.

WS 95-98… Gorgeously integrated already, with loads of blackberry and boysenberry fruit infused with black tea and dark wood spice accents, carried by charcoal and warm earth notes. The elements sail through a large-scale finish that has remarkable cut for a wine of this size.

Le Gay (AG 93-96 JR 17+ JS 95-96 WA 94-96 WS 93-96)
€80.00

 

AG 93-96… A wine of power, density and exceptional finesse, the 2015 Le Gay has it all. Even with all of its obvious richness, the 2015 is slow to reveal itself. Hints of violets, lavender, cloves and new leather wrap around a core of inky, dark-fleshed stone fruits in a resonant, impeccably crafted Pomerol loaded with personality and pure class.

JR 17+… Polished crimson. Some freshness on the nose though clearly very ripe and sweet too. Creamy and spicy. Just the right side of overripe. A little bit severe and yeast-extracty on the end. But there is lots humming away here on the palate. I may be underscoring this wine.

JS 95-96… A tight and racy red with walnut skin, pecan nuts, chili and spice. Blackberry. Full body, round texture. Chewy. Very promising. Like the great Le Gays from the 1980s.

WA 94-96… A fragrant bouquet with delineated red cherries, crushed strawberry and hints of vanilla from the 100% new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, ripe and rounded in the mouth, very well balanced and very smooth. This just glides across the mouth and once that new oak has been absorbed, this will be a gorgeous Le Gay to behold. Do not overlook this Cru because it has been on a roll in recent years.

WS 93-96… Goes for a showy style and pulls it off, with a cashmere feel to the layers of warm fig, blackberry coulis and plum reduction. Ganache and warm espresso notes line the hedonistic finish.

Gazin (AG 89-92 JR 17 WA 94-96 WS 91-94)
€50.50

 

AG 89-92… Dark, fleshy and wonderfully expressive. Mocha, bittersweet chocolate and a host of ripe dark fruit, along with the wine's contours, give the 2015 much of its sumptuous personality. This is a decidedly plush, extracted style, but all the elements are nicely balanced throughout.

JR 17… Bright crimson. Appetising and savoury on the nose. Much drier than most Pomerols. Racy and mineral.

WA 94-96… a perfumed bouquet with layers of black cherry, raspberry coulis and truffle scents, more welcoming and sensual than the wines a decade ago from barrel when they intermittently felt under-ripe. There is none of that here for sure. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit on the entry. There is excellent structure here, a masculine Gazin with plenty of grip, counterbalanced by abundant tertiary, tobacco-tinged black fruit. There is real salinity towards the finish, completing a superb wine by Nicolas de Bailliencourt and his team. Do not overlook this Pomerol. It is one of the subtler expressions of the 2015 vintage and one that I am sure will develop beautifully in cask.

WS 91-94… Ripe, rounded and inviting in feel, with a red licorice frame around a core of plum sauce and cherry preserves. A touch of alder peeks out on the finish, as this has yet to digest the oak, but the pieces are in place for a rock-solid Pomerol.

Latour a Pomerol WA93-95 WS93-96 JR17 JS96-97 AG93-96
€79.00
WA 93-95... The 2015 Latour a Pomerol is a blend of 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. It has an intense bouquet: black cherries, kirsch, truffle and a subtle sea spray scent that emerges only with aeration in the glass. The palate is very smooth on the entry. This is a refined and composed, almost graceful Latour-à-Pomerol, silky smooth in texture with layers of spicy black fruit fanning out on the finish.
 
 
WS 93-96... A serious wine, featuring dark fig and currant fruit that has melded beautifully with the ample charcoal and loam notes. Dense but defined, with very lush tannins cascading through the finish.

JR 17... Mid crimson. Very aromatic and lifted. Very juicy and satisfying even.
 
 
JS 96-97... This is clearly the best Latour à Pomerol for over 30 years. Full and fabulously silky, it shows so much depth of fruit and length. It goes on for minutes. Mostly merlot with a touch of cabernet franc.
 
 
AG 93-96... The 2015 Latour à Pomerol exudes power and intensity. Beams of tannin give the wine its vertical feel and overall sense of structure. Scents of graphite, smoke, leather and red cherry jam meld into a core of intense fruit as this richly constituted Pomerol shows off its pedigree. All the elements fall into place in this super-expressive Pomerol.
Lafleur (AG 93-96 AWL 98-100 JR 18.5 JS 100-100 WA 97-99 )
coming soon

AG 93-96….The 2015 Lafleur is compelling in its beauty and translucent energy. One of the most restrained wines of the vintage, the 2015 isn't in a mood to show all of its cards just yet. And still, there is something totally fascinating and alluring here. In a vintage in which so many wines are obvious and overt, Lafleur is the exact opposite.

AWL  98-100… Dark ruby, almost opaque. Minerals, black forest fruit, sweet tobacco and earth aromas. Amazingly attractive palate with great ripeness and density. The structure is solid yet there is charm. Rich and ripe tannins. A possible legend in the making.

JR 18.5… Much darker crimson than Pensées with more blue in the mix. Very rich and spicy on the nose. Masses of sweetness upfront but also great refinement and freshness. Sinewy and really very glorious. Gorgeous elixir. Lots of layers and different nuances.

JS 100-100… It’s hard to describe perfection. It’s not just power and depth. It’s something mystiscal and ehteral. The wine just floats on your palate with incredible density yet precise. Taste it and you want it forever. So creamy and textured. Glorious.

WA 97-99… It unfurls beautifully delivering small red cherries, cranberry and Japanese nori aromas that gain intensity with every swirl. The palate is medium-bodied with full and rounded tannin, very complex with layers of cranberry and raspberry fruit, veins of white pepper and bay leaf, structured on the finish but not as foreboding as the leviathan 2010 Lafleur. It will still require ten years in bottle to reach its plateau, but it will be one of the standout wines of the vintage. 

Hosanna WA95-97 WS93-96 JR17 JS98-99 AG93-96
€105.00
WA 95-97... This is a very different Hosanna - much more reserved and introverted, yet still complex with a melange of black fruit, undergrowth, truffle and brine aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, plenty of truffle-tinged fruit, a lovely spicy edge and a persuasive peacock's tail finish that lingers long in the mouth while maintaining wonderful freshness.
 
 
WS 93-96... Dense, with a muscular feel, though the core of cassis and blackberry paste is very pure. This is inlaid with some hefty roasted apple wood and melted licorice notes, giving way to warm Christmas pudding on the finish, all while maintaining a serious tannic spine.
 
 
JR 17... Mid ruby. Broad and floral on the nose. Good attack though a little moderate in impact. Not a blockbuster! But very gentle and mild. Appetising.
 
 
JS 98-99... This has the creamy magic texture of all superb 2015 Pomerol. Full and ultra-velvety with a creamy, minerally and citrus rind mouthfeel.
 
 
AG 93-96... The 2015 Hosanna is endowed with remarkable depth and intensity. Violet, plum, lavender, tobacco and exotic spice notes make a strong first impression. Deep, layered and pliant on the palate, the Hosanna reveals layer after layer of flavor. The tannins are very much present, but they are nearly buried by the sheer luxuriousness of the fruit. Hosanna is 82% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc from clay/gravel soils.
Petit Village (AG 93-96 AWL 93-94 JR 17 JS 95-96 WA 90-92 WS 91-94)
€53.00

 

AG 93-96… An explosive Pomerol, the 2015 possesses remarkable intensity, texture and overall depth. Dark cherry jam, smoke, licorice, crushed rocks and espresso are some of the many notes that grace this exceptional Pomerol. I can't remember tasting a Petit-Village this good.

AWL 93-94… Minerals, dark fruit earth and spices on the lovely palate. Nice elegance. Coffee note in the finish.

JR 17…. Sweet fruit-cake nose after dark crimson. Lively with sinews. But not that much charm. Quite dry. But much richer and more complete than previous vintages.

JS 95-96… Shows wonderful balance and finesse with salt, mineral and dark fruit. Hints of walnut too. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a bright finish. Wow. Best ever.

WA 90-92… It has a straightforward black cherry and iodine-scented bouquet that needs to muster a little more complexity given the terroir. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, perhaps more filigree than previous vintages. Given the precocity on the Right Bank, I would have liked more depth on the finish, though it is well balanced with ample freshness on the finish. It is a Pomerol estate that just needs to find its "groove."

WS 91-94… Offers a juicy feel, with lots of singed anise and fruitcake notes out in front of the dark plum and blackberry fruit. Delivers ample spice through the finish. Flirts with the exotic side, but there’s focus and cut here.

Petrus (AG 95-97 JR 18.5 JS 100-100 WA 98-100)
coming soon

 

AG 95-97… The 2015 Pétrus is dark, brooding and also fiercely tannic, which sets it apart from most Pomerols of the year stylistically. Vertical in feel, the 2015 possesses terrific energy and cut to balance the dark, super-ripe fruit. Winemaker Oliver Berrouet adds that the berries were considerable smaller (about 30%) than normal, which resulted in high skin-to-juice ratios consequently musts with high levels of tannin.

JR 18.5… Not the deepest crimson of the lot. Exotic, super-charming nose. And lovely freshness on the palate. Almost Cabernet Franc-like (very ripe Cabernet Franc)! Hint of decongestant medicine! Something sweet and peppery. Not too big, but super-opulent. Great charm and intensity on the palate. Quite difficult to see the tannins; they emerge only at the end. You shouldn't need to wait too long for this. Wonderful persistence. The most beautiful ink you will ever encounter. Lots of energy.

JS 100-100… A wine that makes me dream and touches my soul. Such amazing purity and density yet the tannins and acidity are in perfect balance. The freshness and quality tannins is second to none. It’s a redefinition of some of the great Petrus such as 1971 and 1961 that didn’t have the precision or clarity of today.

WA 98-100… It has an extremely precise, controlled bouquet with crystalline red and black fruit. This is not a powerful or intense bouquet, but beguilingly pretty. It is crystalline and I detected more mineralité than in recent vintages, perhaps because there is less puppy fat. The palate is beautifully balanced, completely harmonious, underpinned by filigree tannin that assert a sense of focus and linearity until two-thirds of the way along, whereupon it fans out while maintaining breathtaking clarity. Touches of cracked black pepper and spice lend this Petrus personality and intrigue. Having tasted most legendary Petrus since the 1940s, and tasted here from barrel since 2002, I can only apologize for being so predictable by claiming that this may well nestle among the likes of the Petrus 1950, 1964, 1989 and 1998.

Trotanoy (AG 95-97 AWL 96-98 JR 17.5+ JS 100-100 WA 94-96 WS 96-99)
coming soon

AG 95-97… The 2015 Trotanoy is one of the most exciting wines of the vintage. Inky, powerful and ample, the 2015 is all about raw energy. A host of dark cherry, plum, smoke, gravel and mineral nuances take shape in the glass. Don't expect the 2015 to be ready anytime soon. The tannins are going to need time to settle down. Still, the wine's pure power is remarkable.

AWL 96-98… Dark puple / ruby. Sweet herbs, cassis, minerals and vanilla cream aromas. Complex, structured and layered. Brilliant wine.

JR 17.5… Notably dark crimson. Very savoury, with marked acidity and freshness. Yet it is more concentrated than any other J-P Moueix wine. A slow burner but should be exciting eventually.

JS 100-100… The depth of fruit and length to this is spectacular with blackberry, wet earth, dark bitter chocolate and blueberry character. It’s full and powerful and absolutely seamless. Perhaps the greatest wine ever made here. 93% merlot and 7% cabernet franc.

WA 94-96… It has a fragrant bouquet, unusually understated and introverted for Trotanoy, with tightly wound, gravel-scented black fruit, touches of dried orange peel and truffle in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, tensile tannin. Again, this feels compact, dense, a coiled spring perhaps, but there is plenty of energy here. Perhaps in the long-term, the Hosanna and the La Fleur Petrus might be the picks from JP Moueix in this great Pomerol vintage, but Trotanoy always springs a surprise once in bottle. Trotanoy - an enigma eternal, but we would not want it any other way.

WS 96-99… Packed from the get-go, with tightly coiled dark fig, blackberry and black currant paste notes, while singed alder and juniper accents form the frame. Roasted tobacco and dark earth elements takes over on the brick house finish. A very strong showing.

Vieux Chateau Certan (AG 97-100 AWL 99-100 JR 18.5 JS 98-99 WA 98-100)
€175.00

 

AG 97-100… One of the most exotic, flamboyant wines of the year, the 2015 Vieux Château Certan is rich, unctuous and seamless, with stunning depth and exceptional textural richness. In 2015, VCC is unusually deep and powerful. A host of rose petal, lavender, mint, spice and plum notes meld together, but it is the wine's overall intensity and spherical structure that stand out most. The 2015 is freakishly rich and likely to require at least 15 years to lose some of its baby fat.

AWL 99-100… Alexandre Thienpont’s 30thvintage at this property. Deep ruby colour. Minerals, blue and black berries, very Cabernet Franc type of earthy. A huge wine. A modern day 1947! Great Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the same year. This has everything of lusciousness, power, seduction, complexity to charm.

JR 18.5… Very intense nose with strong mineral notes - lots of Cabernet Franc influence. Massive impact with really luscious ripe fruit but massive tannins too. Very satiny initially but underneath there is massive tannin. Lovely fragrant top note. Beautifully married. Very sophisticated and with many layers. All vineyard not winemaking. Very savoury - very unlike Merlot stereotype.

JS 98-99… A powerful and rich wine with super concentration and length. Deep and very rich. Glorious blackberry and black chocolate. Full and super velvety. A creamy texture of stone, chalk and lemon rind from the tannins and acidity. Wow. Loving it. The caressing character is so memorable. 80% merlot and 20% cabernet franc.

WA 98-100… What you need to know is that it is a beguiling Pomerol that will set hearts aflutter. It is bridled with a heavenly bouquet with intense red and black fruit, black truffle and a touch of smoke, opening wonderfully in the glass; the Cabernet Franc is very expressive and imparting a licorice note after ten minutes. The palate is medium-bodied with intensity, with a killer line of acidity that imparts freshness from the very start. There is life-affirming tension interwoven throughout this extremely complex wine from Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont. There are layers, more like a mille-feuille of blackberry, boysenberry, mineral, truffle and a touch of spice towards the finish, just a touch of warmth from the alcohol that merely complements an extraordinary and profound Pomerol.

Saint Pierre WA 88-90 AG87-89
€35.00
WA 88-90... The 2015 Château Saint-Pierre has an attractive bouquet with small red cherries mixed with rose petal and truffle, conveying Pomerol typicité better than recent vintages that I have tasted. The palate is medium-bodied with svelte tannin, good body and acidity with plenty of black fruit laced with tobacco on the finish. It is not the most complex Pomerol of the vintage, but it certainly indicates an improving estate heading in the right direction with the assistance of Stephane Derenoncourt.
 
AG 87-89... The 2015 Les II Château Saint-Pierre is plump, juicy and forward, all qualities that will make it a joy to drink over the next handful of years. Sweet red cherry, plum and expressive floral notes grace the soft, inviting finish. Frédéric Massie and Romain Bocchio are the consulting winemakers.
La Cabanne (WA92-94 JR17 JS94-95)
€25.00

WA92-94… The nose is offers brambly black fruit mixed with wild hedgerow and cold stone, certainly more sophisticated than recent vintages, with impressive purity. The palate is built upon fine grain tannin, well-judged acidity, and is nicely proportioned with the fruit, given lift by the new oak on the finish.

JR17… Very dark, then rich and furry and sweet. Very sweet and charming. Intense and jewelly. Very seductive!

JS94-95…A rich and round red with lots of dried fruits, spice and dark chocolate aromas and flavors. Full body, flavorful and rich. Classic styled red.

La Violette JS98-99 WS92-95 WA92-94 JR16 AG93-96
€199.00

JS98-99… This is a massive Pomerol with incredible concentration and power yet it holds together beautifully with chocolate, walnut and dark fruit character. Remains vibrant and lively.

WS92-95… A hedonist style, with a caressing feel to the boysenberry and raspberry fruit flavors that meld into fruit cake and melted licorice notes on the velvety finish. This wine has flair.

WA92-94… It has a red cherry, kirsch, bergamot and dried orange peel scented bouquet that is defined with a touch of puppy fat; it handles the new oak in stride. The palate is medium-bodied with saturated tannin, well-judged acidity, silky smooth in texture, but perhaps not quite delivering that killer blow on the finish.

JR16… Sister property to Ch Le Gay. Now has its own chai. Parcel by parcel and some cold soak.
Floral nose. Very sweet start.

AG93-96… The 2015 is one of the most finessed Pomerols of the vintage. Light on its feet but certainly not lacking in intensity the 2015 possesses gorgeous aromatic lift to match its silky, refined personality.

 

 

Barsac and Sauternes

Coutet (JS 94-95 WA 94-96 WS 94-97)
coming soon

JS 94-95… A Coutet with great depth and fruit. So much dried tropical fruit character, bright acidity and fruit sweetness. Vivid and clean.

WA 94-96… It has a fragrant bouquet with acacia honey, citrus scents and a touch of melted butter, all very well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive purity, those limestone soils imparting the acidity that defined this Barsac, and lending great precision and tension on the live-wire finish. This is a wonderful Coutet that feels energetic - a compressed spring coil that will drink earlier than the likes of Climens or de Fargues, but has the DNA to age gracefully over 25-30 years.

WS 94-97… Vibrant, with a singed almond frame sprinting along, this offers nectarine, white peach and star fruit notes. Mirabelle plum and pineapple details echo through the finish. Very long, boasting terrific range.

Guiraud (JS 96-97 WA 94-96 WS 93-96)
€33.00

JS 96-97… This is really something. I have never tasted a Guiraud like this. This is full-bodied yet so fresh and incredibly crisp and lively. Spicy and energetic. Fantastic acidity!

WA 94-96… A sumptuous bouquet with scents of wild honey, apricot and a faint smear of marmalade. The palate is fresh and tensile on the entry, brimming with energy with impressive energy towards the blood orange and quince-tinged finish. This is a stylish, suave Guiraud that should age beautifully in bottle.

WS 93-96… Very expressive, with nectarine, mirabelle plum, green plum and white peach notes melding well, backed by a pronounced honeysuckle edge. Shows excellent range, with power in reserve.

Rieussec (AG 94-97 JS 97-98 WA 95-97)
€46.50

AG 94-97… The 2015 Rieussec is wonderfully polished, nuanced and, dare I say it - restrained - in this vintage. An exotic mélange of apricot pit, peach, white flowers, mint and pineapple make a strong first impression, but it is the wine's overall feel that is most impressive. The 2015 is an especially finessed Rieussec.

WA 95-97… It has a fragrant bouquet, of honey, white almond and peach, that is disarmingly seductive. The palate is refined and poised: a lovely thread of acidity here, with a keen mineral-laden finish that leaves the mouth tingling with pleasure. This is a top-tier Rieussec that hits all the right buttons.

JS 97-98… The is a phenomenal wine with dried pineapple and pear aromas and flavors. Full, very sweet. Incredible depth and power. Super complex.

 

Suduiraut (AWL 95-96 JS 97-98 WA 95-97 WS 93-96)
€50.00

AWL 95-96… Very fresh and not heavy at all. Notes of freshly cut pineapple, green melon, peaches and apricot.

JS 97-98… A phenomenal white with dried fruits such as apricots and mangos. Masses of bortrytis spice. Full body yet agile and bright with incredible lightness and delicacy. So much cherry blossom too. Small white flowers. Medium sweet. Ginger. Great finish.

WA 95-97… It has a sense of completeness on the nose already: immense clarity with wild honey and quince aromas that gain intensity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with very pure botrytised fruit, very focused and one of the most intense Sauternes you will find this year. It feels long and sophisticated in the mouth yet never overpowers, never really has to put its foot right down on the accelerator. This is a wonderful Suduiraut, not quite up to the level of the ethereal 2009...although not too far off.

WS 93-96… A ripe, rounded style, with loads of apricot, mango and glazed peach flavors, followed by a warm tarte Tatin finish. Still a touch youthfully raw, but shows serious depth.

La Tour Blanche (JS 93-94 WA 92-94 WS 91-94)
coming soon

JS 93-94… Shows energy and intensity with dried apple, pineapple character. Medium to full body, very sweet and a spicy, botrytis aftertaste. Excellent.

WA 92-94… The bouquet is quite intense, although I feel that it does not quite have the complexity of its peers. The palate is much better: smooth and unctuous on the entry, layers of honeyed fruit tinged with peach and almond, delivering a very composed and powerful finish that lingers long in the mouth. Give this 3-4 years in bottle until the aromatics find their voice.

WS 91-94… Shows good intensity, with a bitter orange note adding some cut to the core of peach, mango, quince and papaya flavors. The long finish lets everything drape pleasantly.

Climens (WA96-98 JR18)
€55.00

WA 96-98... Aromas that spring from samples included acacia honey, orange blossom, grapefruit and a little frangipane, all beautifully defined and gaining intensity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a viscous opening, a dash of spice on the entry, lively in the mouth with ginger and a dash of pepper tincturing the honeyed fruit, long and sustained as it fans out with vigor.

JR 18… Of the 22 very promising ingredients, many are big and muscular, while some are particularly spicy. As usual, Bérénice Lurton did not show the final blend, which is likely to be about 14.3% alcohol.

 

Bordeaux Superieur

Grand Village (WA89-91 JR17- JS92-93 AG88-90)
€12.00

WA89-91… It has a fragrant cranberry and raspberry coulis scented bouquet that has ample fruit concentration. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent tannin, crisp acidity, harmonious in the mouth with a touch of graphite on the finish.

JR17+… Brooding crimson. Beautiful fragrance. Beautiful structure. Very exuberant and yet fresh too. Clean and bright. Complete. Long. Juicy.

JS92-93… A firm and silky red with lovely ripe tannins. Full and flavorful. Seamless tannins.

AG88-90… The 2015 Grand Village is a soft, open-knit wine to drink young, while the fruit retains its juiciness and attractive floral freshness. Raspberry, sweet red cherry and sweet floral notes grace this attractive, mid-weight red. The 2015 is a very pretty, precise wine with almost Pinot-like inflections.

 

Haut Medoc

Sociando Mallet (WA85-87 JR16.5+ AG87-90)
€24.50

WA85-87… It has a rather introspective bouquet, broody and earthy, although with aeration it reveals pleasant blackberry and wild strawberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with chewy tannin, a little rustic and brutish at the moment with an abrasive finish that will hopefully soften by the time it is in bottle.

JR16.5+… Glowing crimson. Ripe and exuberant on the nose. Round and fresh - very like a St-Estèphe in build with its sucky-stony character on the end. Fully ripe and very refreshing. Very vigorous.

JS92-95… A balanced and harmonious barrel sample with subtle yet firm tannin structure and a long and delicious finish.

AG 87-90… Bright red stone fruit, earthiness and sweet floral notes are all nicely delineated throughout. The 2015 is not a huge wine, but it makes its case with lovely aromatics, subtlety and grace. This is an especially strong wine from the northern Médoc in 2015.

 

Bordeaux

Monbousquet Blanc WA 87-89
€42.00
WA 87-89...The 2015 Monbousquet Blanc is 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Muscadelle and 5% Semillon. It has an attractive nose with honeysuckle, citrus fruit and white flower aromas. The palate is nicely balanced with soft, lightly honeyed pear and grapefruit-tinged fruit, but it needs more tension to come through on the finish to really make its mark.
Aile d'Argent (WA 90-92 JS 96-97 JR 17+ AG 89-91)
€60.00

WA 90-92… It has an attractive bouquet of lime cordial, pink grapefruit and apricot that gently unfolds in the glass. The palate is very well balanced with a keen thread of acidity that runs through waxy-textured fresh pear, grapefruit and lime notes. There is just a touch of malolactic fermentation here (actually around 7% of the total according to winemaker Philippe Dhalluin) that just lends cohesion and smoothness to the finish.

JS 96-97… This has crazy energy with dried pineapple, pear and sliced apple. Full body, exotic and lively long. So exciting. 55% sauvignon 43% semillon and muscadelle.

JR 17+… Relatively complex nose. As though this is a wine with a future. I really like the dry finish and nutty layers. Bone dry but lots of interest. Racy but not ready.

AG 89-91… The 2015 Aile d'Argent, Mouton Rothschild's dry white, is 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 43% Sémillon, 2% Muscadelle, is laced with attractive scents of white flowers, lemon and grapefruit. The fruit was brought in between September 2 and 9 which helps keep the flavors fresh, while a dollop of Muscadelle and a small amount of malolactic fermentation gives the Aile d’Argent its characteristic sweetness.