Jancis Robinson - Saint-Julien
Jancis sampled in excess of 600 wines and her detailed vintage assessment (per appellation) can be found on her excellent website, which we highly recommend (and not only for Bordeaux).
Ch Beychevelle 2016
Dark purple. Light peppery nose. Sweet palate entry with a hint of sweet oak, and then a bit austere on the palate. Lively coconut hint. Falls away on the finish. Competent rather than exciting.
Ch Branaire-Ducru 2016
Juicy, savoury nose. Fresh and fine-boned. Could only be bordeaux – tant mieux! Silky texture with some energy.
Ch La Bridane 2016
Dark blackish ruby. Sweet, evolved nose. This seems much less callow than most 2016s. Very winning already but not very obviously St-Julien; less structured. You have to look carefully for the tannins. Big ripe fruit. Maybe just a bit too smooth and low in acid...?
Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou, Croix de Beaucaillou 2016
64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. Not a second wine but from a particular area in the middle of the AOC. 60% new oak. IPT 78.
Bright, deep crimson. Tastes so dramatic that it’s on the edge – almost camembert notes. Lots of spiciness and glamour and then the oak insists a bit. The new oak is a tad obvious at the moment.
Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou 2016
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 100% new oak. Yields were the lowest in the commune: just 37 hl/ha because of poor flowering, esca pruning and selection. Still, 7,500 cases made!
Very dark. Racy and sinewy with lots of richness and energy. Smooth and supple and quite sweet – arguably too sweet? – but with masses of tannins buried down there. Blackberry compote mixed with health juice.
Ch du Glana 2016
Bright crimson. Plump, ripe, purple-fruit nose. Very flattering. Easy peasy. Super-round and bright. Slight sandpaper finish.
Ch Gloria 2016
Sweet and energetic and very glossy. Just a little austere on the end. Bone dry. Quite demanding. Just not quite enough ripe fruit for the not inconsiderable tannins.
Ch Gruaud Larose 2016
Initially there’s a whiff of sweet oak, and then underneath there is the vineyard and real savour. Ripe but not forced. Good stuff with a ‘mineral’ whiff. Not a blockbuster but very well balanced with lovely length.
Ch Lagrange, Les Fiefs de Lagrange 2016
Not that concentrated crimson. Light and dry. Respectable and quite dry. Far from heavy. Quite demandingly dry.
Ch Lagrange 2016
Dark purple. Quite high volatile acidity. Big and broad but lacks a bit of precision and focus. A tad scrawny on the end. Was everything ripe enough? Dilute finish.
Ch Lalande Borie 2016
55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. 30% new oak.
Rich and very lively on the nose. Real freshness and raciness. Beautiful wine! Really vibrant and rich. But with masses of energy. Just very slightly dry on the end. But such a charmer! GV
Ch Langoa Barton 2016
Exceptionally dark purple. Very meaty, concentrated nose with real lift. Lots of graphite and grit. No spare flesh but truly terroir wine. Sinewy. Bone-dry finish. Very much in its own style. But long and precise.
Ch Léoville Barton 2016
Dark blackish purple. Less obviously aromatic than Langoa. Tea-leaf notes. Round texture with gloriously ripe tannins. Really a standout Barton. So unusually supple! Yet with masses of tannins underneath. This will surely be one of the vintage’s longer-living wines. Glorious texture and flavour. Utterly minerally dry, but not drying. Very good freshness – much fresher than many of its peers. Real energy.
Ch Léoville Las Cases, La Petite Marquise 2016
Second vintage. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc. 25% new oak.
Racy and bright fruited with a hint of juice and tobacco notes. (Mind you, I’m tasting in a salon reeking of Jean Hubert Delon’s cigars…!) Inky but fresh and precise. Just a little wanting on the very end.
Ch Léoville Las Cases, Clos du Marquis 2016
73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. 55% new oak.
Exotically rich on the nose! I would never have believed I could encounter such richness at this address. Some real life here. Racy and rich and lots of black fruit. Richness but some structure too. Racy.
Ch Léoville Las Cases, Le Petit Lion 2016
54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc. 30% new oak. 40 hl/ha.
Very dark crimson. Sweet and fresh at the same time. Sinewy and round. Lip smacking. Just a little green note on the end. Real lift to this and not quite mouth-filling – just a little austere hole on the end but pretty good!
Ch Léoville Las Cases 2016
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc picked between 30 September and 19 October, the result aged in 90% new barrels. IPT 82.
Amazing combination of the stoniness and backbone of traditional Las Cases with extraordinary vitality and energy, all overlaid with fully ripe fruit. Such richness! Round tannins but the most youthful wine I have yet encountered. Extremely minerally and thrilling. Jean-Hubert Delon bemoans the fact he will not be alive to see it at its peak, and is convinced it will shut down at some point. It is glorious to taste now.
Ch Léoville Poyferré, Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré 2016
Second wine of Moulin Riche and Léoville Poyferré. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc.
Not much nose – light inkiness. Very sweet start and then it starts to tighten on the finish. Just a little meagre.
Ch Léoville Poyferré 2016
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc.
Deep purple. Very deep. Really rich and winning. Much more mouth-filling than the other wines from this stable. Really fresh but broad and ripe. Great freshness. Long and beautifully balanced.
Ch Moulin Riche 2016
A quite distinct property from Léoville Poyferré. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot.
Quite rich start and then it’s fresh and tight. Just a bit green on the end but winning beforehand with good ‘minerality’.
Ch Les Ormes 2016
Owned by the Pairault family, so a sister brand to Chx Teynac and Corconnac.
Very dark purplish crimson. Seductively floral notes on the nose. Velvety texture almost hides the super-ripe tannins. A particularly precocious and winning St-Julien. Not for the very long term but it does taste of savoury St-Julien. Superb balance. GV
Ch St-Pierre 2016
Dark purple. Sweet peppery notes on the nose. Very glossy and friendly. Sweet start and then quite chewy. Well put together if a tad inky on the end. Not quite enough density on the finish for perfection.
Ch Talbot 2016
Very dark and shiny. Not that intense but very well mannered. Sweet, almost thick, start. Very flattering. If I had to choose one wine to represent the vintage in typical style I might well choose this one – though the hint of heat on the end is a little worrying. Should be rewarding in the end. Great harmony.
Ch Teynac 2016
Blackish purple. Ferns and forest floor on the cool nose. Fine tannins in abundance as well as freshness. Lifted and straight backed. Lots of Cabernet but enough stuffing in the middle. Dry but not drying finish. Long, serious.