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
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.
|Calon Segur (AG 90-93 AWL 95-96+ JR 17+ JS 93-94 WA 91-93 WS 89-92)
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
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
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)
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
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)
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
|Montrose (AG 90-93 AWL 97-99 JR 17+ JS 93-94 WA 93-95)
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.
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
|Phelan Segur (AG 89-92 JR 16.5+JS 93-94 WA 91-93 WS 88-91)
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
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
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
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.
|Aile d’Argent (AG 89-91 JR 17+ JS 96-97 WA 90-92 )
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
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
|Duhart Milon (JR16 AG90-92 WA90-92 JS91-92)
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
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
|D'Armailhac (AG 90-93 JR 17.5 JS 92-93 WA 89-91 WS 88-91)
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
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)
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
|Clerc Milon (JR 17.5 JS 94-95 WA 91-93 WS 89-92)
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)
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)
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
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 )
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.
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)
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,
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)
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)
| 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
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)
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
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
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)
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)
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
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
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
|Carruades de Lafite (WA 89-91 JS 92-93 AG 90-93 JR 16.5)
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
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
|Beychevelle (AG 92-94 JR 17 JS 92-93 WA 92-94 WS 90-93)
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)
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
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 )
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)
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
|Gruaud Larose (JR 17 JS 93-94 WS 88-91 WA 90-92 )
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)
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)
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
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
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)
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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
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
|Le Petit Lion de Leoville Las Cases JR 16.5+ AG 90-93
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.
|Alter Ego de Palmer (AG 90-93 AWL 90-92 JR 16.5 JS 94-95 WA 90-92)
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
|Brane Cantenac (AG 92-95 JR 17.5 JS 93-94 WA 93-95 WS 90-93)
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)
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
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 )
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 )
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
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
|Du Tertre WA91-93 WS90-93 JR16.5 JS94-95 AG88-91
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
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)
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)
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 )
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
Pessac Leognan and Graves
|Chapelle de la Mission (AG 87-89 AWL 88-90 JR 16 JS 94-95 WA 91-93 )
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)
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
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)
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
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 )
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 )
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
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)
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
|Haut Brion (AG 95-97 AWL 97-99 JR 18.5 JS 97-98 WA 98-100)
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 )
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.
JR 18… Dense and lively. Turbo-charged
Sauvignon! Some real elegance and lift - honey and the race of Sauvignon.
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)
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
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)
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
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 )
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
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)
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
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.
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)
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
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)
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)
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
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
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
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.
|Angelus (AG 94-96 AWL 97-99 JR 17.5 JS 99-100 WA 95-97 )
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)
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)
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
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 )
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)
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
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
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
|Canon (AG 96-98 JR 17.5+ JS 100-100 WA 98-100 WS 94-97)
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)
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
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
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)
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)
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
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
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)
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
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
|Figeac (AG 93-96 AWL 97-98 JR 18 JS 97-98 WA 97-99 WS 94-97)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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
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)
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
JR 16.5… Sweet and rich on the nose. Then
marked acidity on the palate. Rather different from and fresher than some
JS 96-97… The purity of fruit and focus in
this wine is so impressive. Full body, powerful and persistent. It goes on for
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)
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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
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
|Le Carillon de l'Angelus WA 90-92 JR 16 JS 92-93 AG 90-92
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.
|Certan de May (AG 92-95 AWL 92-94 JR 17.5 JS 97-98 WA 89-91 WS 91-94)
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
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
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)
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
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
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)
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
|L’Eglise Clinet (AG 95-97 AWL 96-98 JR 17+ JS 98-99 WA 96-98 WS 94-97)
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
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
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)
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
|La Fleur-Petrus (AG 94-97 AWL 94-96 JR 17 JS 99-100 WA 94-96 WS 95-98)
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)
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)
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
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
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 )
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
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)
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
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
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)
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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
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. 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
Floral nose. Very sweet start.
Barsac and Sauternes
|Coutet (JS 94-95 WA 94-96 WS 94-97)
JS 94-95… A Coutet with great depth and fruit. So much
dried tropical fruit character, bright acidity and fruit sweetness. Vivid and
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)
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)
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.
|Suduiraut (AWL 95-96 JS 97-98 WA 95-97 WS 93-96)
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)
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)
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.
|Grand Village (WA89-91 JR17- JS92-93 AG88-90)
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.
|Sociando Mallet (WA85-87 JR16.5+ AG87-90)
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
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.
|Monbousquet Blanc WA 87-89
| 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)
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.