Every year, the iDealwine team goes to Bordeaux for En Primeur Week. And we can tell you straight away that 2016 has all the signs of a top vintage! Here’s a general overview.
2016, temperamental weather turning out ideal in the end
Overall, the weather has been kind to the 2016 vintage even though the year started rather badly. As Stéphane Derenoncourt reported on the Figaro Vin website « 2016 is like a miracle -the sad film with a happy ending. The beginning of the year was impossible and extremely rainy. It was disastrous for managing the vines and disease pressure was high. There was some respite in early June, so flowering was good, very compact. Then, from the end of June we had fine weather through to harvest time. The grapes could ripen at leisure, maintaining good levels of acidity due to the sharp contrast between the warm days and cool nights. After a long dry period came a little rain. This restarted growth cycles affected by water stress. It was a magical year for winegrowers. The harvesting window was wide enough for growers to have a choice between picking grapes early, for fresh wines, or later, for ripe wines. » […] If we add up temperatures over the winegrowing period, this has been the coldest year in the last twenty. We have an exceptionally ripe but also exceptionally fresh vintage. » 1 So, in the end, the weather conditions turned out to be perfect, giving producers full potential to make high quality wines – and most of them appear to have succeeded in this.
An excellent, fruity, delicate, fresh and drinkable vintage
Our first impression of the 2016, at this primeur stage, is that it is very pleasant to taste and already has an impressive drinkable quality. In fact, across almost all the appellations, we were pleasantly surprised by the crispness of the fruit, the delicate, supple and silky textures and the remarkable freshness. In some years it definitely hasn’t been the case at this stage, but we thoroughly enjoyed these wines, suggesting they could appreciate quite quickly. We found nice levels of maturity, pleasant acidic qualities, influencing the balance of the wines considerably (pH unusually low in Bordeaux), and alcohol (but not too much). We tasted highly aromatic wines, with the right amounts of denseness, richness, plenty of depth and to top it all off, beautifully soft tannins without the slightest hint of bitterness. Often, the cherry on the cake was a wonderfully long finish. The wines we tried during the week brought together everything we love about Bordeaux wines without any of the excesses – even though the élevage stage is far from over. The balance seemed especially excellent. So while this vintage will be very pleasant to drink young, thanks to good levels of alcohol and low pH it should also make a superb wine for laying down.
This vintage also seems more consistent across different appellations than not only the 2015, but also the 2009 and 2010. As Oenoconseil wine expert Antoine Medeville notes: « 2016 joins the top vintages, better than 2009 and 2010 in terms of balance, with a nice level of acidity making for harmonious wines with volume and freshness », » it is good everywhere, very good, if not exceptional », he concluded .2
2016 has already won over the press and experts worldwide
A quick look at the many articles in the trade press should convince you. All the tasters are in agreement about the outstanding quality of this vintage, and the consistency of this quality throughout Bordeaux – Right Bank, Left Bank and even in the peripheral appellations. At iDealwine, our team found that overall, Left Bank wines were slightly more successful than Right Bank wines where to us, the quality did not seem quite as consistent.
This vintage has achieved a very high standard. Many consider it to be higher than the 2015 which is already judged as excellent. Michel Rolland has said « I think that intrinsically, 2016 is slightly better than 2015″ 3. Jean-Francis Pécresse (Les Echos), has even gone so far as to call his report on 2016 « A Glimpse of Perfection« , claiming from the outset that « it’s unbelievable but true. After a tremendous 2015 vintage, Bordeaux has achieved even better in 2016. This is a classic vintage that could be destined for the same greatness as the 1982 » 4. The famous wine taster Jean-Marc Quarin has been just as ecstatic: « There is something genius, unusual and inexplicable about this vintage. The red wines are dense, very fragrant, rich, and full, with a soft touch on the palate, velvety and a great depth of flavours. Everything is so flavourful, such bright fruit, such a refined tannin grain, with such a strong note of pleasure that 2016 will make wines from 2010, which I love, seem rustic!« 5.
While some critics have drawn a comparison with other top Bordeaux vintages, others place it firmly in a class of its own. Stéphane Toutoundji, oenologist and co-director of Oenoteam has said « 2009 is a riper vintage with lower acidity levels. In Bordeaux, people like to compare vintages but this year can’t be compared with anything else. It is another outstanding vintage and some say they have never seen anything like it.« 6 Michel Rolland makes the exact same claim « I’ve been an oenologist for 44 vintages, and never before have I seen a year like this one! […] We are pleased and delighted to present it to you as this is the first time we have had the opportunity to present a vintage of this quality! » 7.
The scores are beginning to come in. Jean-Marc Quarin has already released his, confirming the exceptionally high quality of the vintage with more than 100 scores of 17/20 or more.
Next week, we will tell you about our Primeur Week favourites from the Left and Right Banks.
No need to translate the below :
1 In Gabrielle Vizzavona, « Primeurs de Bordeaux 2016 : l’analyse de Stéphane Derenoncourt », avis-vin.lefigaro.fr, 28/03/17
2 Source : AFP
3 Gabrielle Vizzavona, Primeurs de Bordeaux 2016 : L’analyse de Michel Rolland, avis-vin.lefigaro.fr, 30/03/2017
4 Jean-Francis Pécresse, « La chronique vin de Jean-Francis Pécresse : un aperçu de la perfection », lesechos.fr, 07/04/2017
5 In Jean-Marc Quarin, « Bordeaux Primeurs 2016 : premiers résultats », quarin.com, 12/03/2017
6 In Jean-Pierre Stahl, « Stéphane Toutoundji sur le millésime 2016 : « c’est un millésime exceptionnel, les grands qui étaient grands en 2015 sont encore plus grands en 2016 » », france3-regions.blog.francetvinfo.fr/cote-chateaux, 11/04/2017
7 Jean-Pierre Stahl, « Michel Rolland sur le millésime 2016 : « jamais nous n’avons vu un millésime comme celui-là ! » », france3-regions.blog.francetvinfo.fr/cote-chateaux, 31/03/2017
See the interview of Angélique de Lencquesaing from iDeawline on on BFM TV about En Primeurs :