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2016 Bordeaux En Primeur

The 2016 Bordeaux En Primeur has now closed, however we still have stocks of a number of wines, please telephone Member Services on 01438 741177 for availability.

2016 Bordeaux En Primeur

2016 Bordeaux
En Primeur

Bordeaux has produced an abundance of superb wines in 2016

The reds exhibit real energy and vitality, with pure bouquets, plush silky tannins, plenty of mid-palate fruit and impressive length of flavour. Slightly lower-than-average alcohol levels, allied to the perfumed fruit and ripe tannins that typify the vintage, will ensure wines with exceptional balance and ageing potential.

Comparisons of 2016 with previous vintages are hard to draw, and none of the owners and winemakers that we talked to during our visits were willing (or able) to suggest a similar vintage in terms of wine style. Nicolas Audebert, who makes the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, uses the description ‘un kilo de plumes’, or a pound of feathers for those preferring imperial measures, meaning that the wines have volume as opposed to weight. This comes closest to capturing the essence of the 2016s.

Unlike last year, the successes of the 2016 vintage come from all corners of Bordeaux. Cabernets from the Médoc ripened beautifully from Margaux to Saint-Estèphe, as they did in Pessac-Léognan and the Graves, while both Pomerol and Saint-Emilion enjoyed a healthy, ripe merlot crop.

Along with much of the UK wine trade we attended the annual primeur tastings in Bordeaux during the first week in April, tasting hundreds of 2016 barrel samples and making our initial ‘long-list’. However, unlike most of the trade we returned a fortnight later to retaste the wines in order to narrow down our selection. Young wines in barrel develop so quickly at this stage of their lives that we believe it is vital to taste the wines as many times as possible in order to get the truest reflection of their character, quality and potential.

We have included a larger selection of ‘second wines’ than in previous offers as they were particularly successful in 2016. This is partly due to the fact that with cabernet sauvignon ripening so perfectly, many châteaux increased the proportion of that grape in their grand vin. The knock-on effect was that high-quality merlot grapes, normally destined for the first wine, ended up in the properties’ second wines, to their undoubted benefit.

Château Batailley

One point of caution to note is that vineyards in some parts of Bordeaux this spring have been devastated by late frost (around 26th and 27th April), and consequently there will be little or no wine available from some châteaux in the 2017 vintage. The overused adage ‘buy now while stocks last’ may actually be relevant this year!

The vintage is good to very good for dry whites, with the best wines displaying fresh, aromatic fruit character. Sauternes and Barsac enjoyed another very fine vintage, and almost as importantly, yields were more generous than for many years, which is great news for the financially embattled sweet-wine producers.

The weather

Weather conditions were far from straightforward in 2016 with extremes in the form of both wet and dry spells. Winter and spring were mild and very damp. Some places received more rain in the first two months of the year than in the whole of 2015. But miraculously there was a short window in early June, crucial for successful flowering, when the whole of Bordeaux enjoyed a spell of dry weather. The ensuing summer was hot and extremely dry, with virtually no rain falling between the last week of June and mid-September. This meant that the vines had to dig deep for sustenance. These conditions favoured old vines on good soils, and as a consequence the best wines reflect their true origins (or terroirs).

Thankfully nature intervened on 13th September when a welcome rain shower relieved and reinvigorated the vineyards, ensuring that the grapes continued ripening. Harvest took place in perfect conditions with châteaux able to select the optimum time to pick. Berries, particularly for the cabernets, were small and thick skinned, ensuring that wines will be deeply coloured with plenty of ripe tannins.

Tim Sykes
Society Buyer

This En Primeur offer has now closed.

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