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Decanter - Margaux

Decanter - Margaux

Jane Anson is Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent and has lived in the region since 2003, here are her en primeur tasting notes and scores for Margaux 2016 wines..

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Château Palmer

The grand vin represents 65% of production in 2016, the highest ever. It has many similarities in style with the 2001 and 1986, being a classically styled wine full of soft slate, fern, liquorice and cassis, but from the modern era where you can achieve so much more precision. This is a wine that makes you smile from the first sip, and keeps on getting better, caressing you gently across the palate. There is never any let up through the mid-palate, and the biodynamics that have been practised here for the past few years are clearly paying off. Elegant, utterly silky and precise, the structure is just effortless with reasonably fresh alcohols that are the result of late ripening. A perfect example of the appellation, it has the florality, density and slow tannic pace that means it takes you right along with it as the flavours build. The blend is 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Intellectual without being overbearing, and built to age. This is impressive stuff.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

98 Points


Château Margaux

It’s unusual to have this intensity, freshness and integration of tannins at such a young age, but that is the beauty of 2016 in the best cases. This has an elegant structure with a touch of austerity through the mid-palate, alongside cool crushed tobacco, black fruits, juicy minerality and some salinity on the finish, all held in by silky tannins. There is not the big body and intensity of the majestic 2015 Margaux, which was easily one of the wines of the vintage, but the aromatics are more expressive in 2016 and there is a subtle complexity that builds over the palate. The blend here is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon (one of the highest ever), 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, with yields fairly high at 52hl/ha for the grand vin. It represents 28% of the overall production, compared to 35% last year. The grand vin has this wonderful essence of Margaux feel, and will reward patience - no doubt it will take on some extra weight over time and deepen into a stunning wine, among the great classics of this property. A fresh 3.6pH alongside a tannin count of 73IPT. Philippe Bascaules returned from Napa just before the primeurs; his first full vintage will be the 2017.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

97 Points


Château Margaux, Pavillon Blanc

They started harvesting the whites here on 8th September, three or four days earlier than last year and earlier than planned after checking the acidity levels - an excellent decision as this is easily one of the best white wines of Bordeaux this year. It has grip, tension and a wealth of aromatics that is surprising as it is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and it was the Semillons that resisted the heat a little better down in Pessac. With steely citrus, slate, mineral and a sappy finish, it hugs throughout the palate. All the white grapes had come in by 13th September, and the pH is a vibrant 3.2. Valerie Lavigne, long-time associate of Denis Dubourdieu, works with the team on the white wine. Yield of 23hl/ha.

Drinking Window 2020 - 2035

96 Points


Château d’Issan

Beautiful violet and lilac-tinted edging to the colour, a promising sign of a vibrant, balanced wine, and it absolutely delivers on the palate. This is so fresh and uplifting, it has fruit intensity balanced with a perfumed elegance. Over 80% of the vines at Issan are at least 20 years old, and many much older, so they coped very well with the dry summer. This is a lovely classic Margaux, sculpted with a core of fine tannins that promise excellent ageing. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon and 36% Merlot. Blending was finished in late January with consultant Eric Boissenot.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

95 Points


Château Prieuré-Lichine

This beautiful Margaux might not exceed the 2015 but it is undeniably doing a good job of keeping up. It combines elegance and richness, with extremely well extracted deep fruits and plenty of layers of finesse in the form of charcoal, slate, grilled almonds and cloves. An excellent Prieuré with good ageing potential.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

95 Points


Château Rauzan-Ségla

This is a Rauzan-Ségla with a powerful, streamlined throb. The two Rauzan neighbours (Ségla and Gassies) give very different takes on the vintage and each has its own charm. This is sleek, poised and well controlled, demonstrating deep extraction with clear cassis notes. Nicolas Audbert takes more risks with the wine than his predecessor John Kolasa did, and the opulence, finesse and forward motion is clear. Big-framed for the vintage, this resembles the 2015, even the 2010, and is a wine for long ageing.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

95 Points


Château Brane-Cantenac

Gorgeous campsite woodsmoke effect on the nose and the effect, as is so often the case with Brane, is that their use of oak ageing is extremely cleverly thought out. This is a luscious wine with rich, deeply layered fruits and gentle spices, all set against well brushed, caressing tannins. This is a great vintage for this property, so effortless. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere (now old enough at 10 years, and successful enough due to the late harvest, to finally make it into the grand vin). Excellent.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points


Château Durfort-Vivens

Now biodynamically certified by Demeter as of the 2016 vintage, this has a full 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. This was a great year for Cabernet, certainly as you move further up the Médoc, and it is flexing its muscles here. I just love this, it has a true sense of forward motion but it is also intense, complex and layered. Extremely clear liquorice and tight black spice, with waves of soft floral, almost violet, notes. Sometimes a forgotten estate in Margaux, as far as any 1855 property can be forgotten, but we are going to see the plaudits increase over the next few years, and this is sounding the starting gun.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points


Château Cantenac-Brown

This is an elegant and beautifully balanced wine with plush damson aromatics and a punch of fruit that is totally captivating. The soft but extensive tannins of 2016 are fully on display, lush and well-worked. There is some charcoal and liquorice sitting underneath, with the wet stone minerality that always elevates a wine up to the next level. Very good.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points


Château Giscours

Giscours has been hitting it out of the park for a number of vintages now, and we are squarely back in this territory for the 2016. Firm tannins, among the biggest in the appellation, but not overdone because of a vibrant, flexible quality to these essential elements of structure. The sheer volume of bilberry and cassis fruits on the full, dark palate show that clearly the anthocyanin and IPT counts are right up there. This is complex, layered and well held together.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points


Château Kirwan

This is an effortlessly elegant and classy Margaux. Real structure where the tannins hold without being intrusive, close to the 2015 in quality. They have new cellars here, so lots to look forward to over the next decade as they really begin to benefit from the extra precision. Extremely classic Margaux, a great signature of the appellation.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

93 Points


Château Palmer, Alter Ego de Palmer

Palmer lost 20% of its crop in the spring, and the Merlot was affected more than the Cabernet so there is only around half as much Alter Ego as normal. The yield here is 29hl/ha, so a lot less than most of Margaux, mainly due to vineyard rebalancing after moving to biodynamics and the spring crop loss. The harvest start date of 3rd October was the latest on record, following on from a very long, slow ripening leading to lots of tannins (71 IPT) which although soft and integrated are at a higher level than 2015, while the 3.65pH remains the same. Late harvests encourage elongated tannins, and Thomas says he has never seen such sophistication in the construction of the wines here, so different from the 2015. As with Palmer, Alter Ego has a highly aromatic nose, majoring here on damson and blackberry. Tasted on an overcast Friday morning and yet it sings, with the most beautifully soft expression of black fruits. It’s a different style to others, the 13% ABV being extremely low for this amount of Merlot. Beautiful.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2040

93 Points


Château Marquis d’Alesme

There has been a lot of investment in this property from the all-female team, from owner Nathalie Perrodo to winemaker Marjolaine Maurice-de Coninck. Don’t think this means a feminine take on the vintage though; we have the full gamut of chewy tannins running through well structured, ripe cassis fruit. It holds back on the finish, with a sense of confidence and careful extraction. Maybe not as floral as some, but for me it’s another step up in quality from this fast-rising estate.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

93 Points


Château Dauzac

Tucked into the southern tip of the Margaux appellation in the commune of Labarde, home to Dauzac, Siran and Giscours, there are some increasingly interesting things happening here. This, for me, is one of the few Margaux that is clearly better than its 2015 counterpart. Planted to 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, they have introduced a second wine for the first time in 2016 and unveiled new cellars, both helping to focus on upping selection for the main wine. You get a full and frank attack of powerful black fruits, tannins with an astringency and life that is extremely promising, and acidity that absolutely accompanies and plays off the other components. There is a slatey minerality and salinity on the finish. A wine to watch under the direction of Laurent Fortin.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2045

93 Points


Château Lascombes

Some beautiful aromatics going on here, this has the sexy, ripe focus that is a signature of this property under consultant Michel Rolland and director Dominique Befve. It doesn’t disappoint, and as ever for me it conveys a sense of joy and vibrancy in the fruit. The blend in 2016 is 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, from a yield of 45hl/ha. There is deep black pepper and cinammon spicing, and while the tannins are a little tight it has clear oak structure. A lovely wine that is a strong successor to the excellent 2015.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2045

93 Points


Château Siran

A highly attractive vintage for Siran, with a darkly spiced frame coming from a high 9% of Petit Verdot (a grape that did particularly well in 2016), blended with 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, with a pH of 3.61. The estate has a new winemaker this year in Marjolaine DeFrance. There are clear touches of the florality of Margaux and this is an excellent wine, less succulent than 2015 perhaps, but with intensity, staying power and beautifully poised fruit. This is an estate that just keeps getting better and is a name to follow.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2045

93 Points


Château Labégorce

Deep, rich extraction, black cherry in colour with very well controlled aromatics of damson and creamy cappuccino. This is a gorgeous wine and there are going to be many many fans of the contemporary but utterly controlled and well judged flavours on display here. Luscious and big, but everything has a reason for being where it is, nothing superfluous. One of the best ever from this property.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2045

93 Points


Château Malescot-St-Exupery

Some coffee bean smudges across the nose give this a sexy, appealing edge right off the bat, followed up by chewy tannins that manage to hold the by rich, deep, beautifully extracted fruit without smothering it. This is one of the fuller expressions of the vintage, no question. Read more at http://www.decanter.com/wine-reviews/france/bordeaux/chateau-malescot-st-exupery-margaux-3eme-cru-classe-2016-11006#TGQcmzHZ2qzv6qzi.99

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

93 Points