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Neal Martin - Margaux

Neal Martin - Margaux

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Château Margaux

The 2016 Chateau Margaux is a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, plus 1% of Petit Verdot, representing 28% of the total production. This is the highest proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon apart from 2013, which was due to the poor Merlot. It was cropped around 50 hectoliters per hectare depending on the grape variety, for example it could be up to 65 hectoliters per hectare in some sectors. Lucid in color, it has a detailed and precise bouquet with mineral-rich blackberry, raspberry coulis and limestone scents. It feels very perfumed, though not powerful like many Grand Vins in 2016. The palate is a different creature to the aromatics. Here is the intensity of the vintage with shimmering black fruit laced with spice, a killer line of acidity and an irresistible crescendo on the finish. Then, graphite lingering on the aftertaste, a nod to Pauillac perhaps. The aftertaste is so long you could probably write a letter to your friend enthusing about this wine before the aftertaste fades. Doubtless it is destined to be compared to the magnificent 2015 Château Margaux and to be truthful, there’s a hair’s breadth between them. In a word: crystalline.

Drink Date 2026 - 2070

97 - 99 Points


Château Brane-Cantenac

The 2016 Brane-Cantenac is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Carmenere picked from 22 September until 17 October (the tiny parcel of Carmenere picked three days later). The yields came in at 51 hectoliters per hectare and it is matured in 75% new oak and 25% one-year-old barrels, the final alcohol level 13.3%. It has a beautifully defined, very detailed bouquet with mineral-rich black fruit laced with cedar and graphite notes, living up to its nom de plume as the “Pauillac of Margaux.” The palate is simply the best that I have ever tasted at the estate, without question. This has presence, but also weightlessness, filigree tannin and perfectly pitched acidity, with real intensity and drive. The tension here is outstanding and the persistence is incredibly long. It is not the showiest of all the 2016s by a long stretch, and yet it is everything you could possibly want from a Margaux. Like Beychevelle this year, the 2016 Brane-Cantenac puts recent vintages in the shade, thanks not only to the growing season, but also a new punching down system in their gravity-fed winery that was completed in 2015. The 2016 is a benchmark against which future vintages will be compared.

Drink Date 2026 - 2060

96 - 98 Points


Château Palmer

The 2016 Palmer is a blend of 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot cropped at 29 hectoliters per hectare between 3 and 18 October. Matured in 65% new oak (my sample coming from a used barrel), the bouquet is perhaps not quite as intense as some of its peers and takes time to click into fifth gear. Eventually it offers tightly wound blackberry, briary and mineral scents; it is very focused, but maybe less extrovert and more classic in style compared to recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with a gentle grip on the entry, quite firm in the mouth with slightly tarry black fruit, hints of black truffle developing towards the finish that feels masculine and linear. It has very impressive length, completing what is an intellectual Palmer, one that I suspect will really blossom in bottle.

Drink Date 2024 - 2055

95 - 97 Points


Château Rauzan-Segla

The 2016 Rauzan-Segla (Rausan-Segla) is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot picked between 20 September and 15 October at 45 hectoliters per hectare. The wine is being aged in 60% new oak for 18 months. It has 13.2% alcohol. It has a very powerful and intense bouquet with layers of blackberry, kirsch, cedar and a touch of mint. The palate is medium-bodied with plenty of fruit concentration: layers of ripe blackberry and boysenberry, segueing into what feels like a very spicy and peppery second half that seems to calm down and attain more nuance with aeration in the glass. It is a wonderful follow-up to the 2015 last year, although not quite with the same audacity and bravado. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

Drink Date 2022 - 2050

95 - 97 Points

Château Labegorce

The 2016 Labegorce is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 52% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot picked between 4-21 October and matured in 45% new oak. What I like about the bouquet is that it is quintessential Margaux--it could not come from anywhere else. Crushed violets infuse black cherries, blueberry and iodine. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, very well-judged acidity, an elegant and very charming Margaux with pencil lead and a touch of spice on the long finish. What a brilliant wine from a Margaux estate that has really upped its game.

Drink Date 2026 - 2055

94 - 96 Points

Château Malescot-St-Exupery

The 2016 Malescot-St-Exupery has an opulent, lavish and pure bouquet with billowing black cherry and blueberry fruit, a touch of mint and graphite emerging with time. I love the delineation to this Margaux. The palate is very well balanced, sensual and voluptuous in style, but that does not detract from the fine structure here and the precision towards the finish. Everything seems to be in its right place here; it is one of the best Malescot-St-Exupery that I have tasted and it is wonderful.

Drink Date 2022 - 2050

94 - 96 Points

Château D'Issan

The 2016 D'Issan is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon and 36% Merlot cropped between 29 September and 19 October, and matured in 50% new barrels. The alcohol is 13.3% and with a pH of 3.71. It has a very classic, slightly introverted bouquet with a light marine influence coming through, but remaining very reserved, a little aloof. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin and fine delineation; it is very crisp and focused, a classic Margaux through and through with outstanding salinity and persistence towards the precise finish. This is a beautiful D'Issan for long-term ageing, on par with the 2015.

Drink Date 2026 - 2060

93 - 95 Points

Château Giscours

The 2016 Giscours is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Merlot, the highest percentage of Cabernet in recent years, picked between 26 September and 20 October. It was cropped at 45 hectoliters per hectare with 13.2% alcohol, which is a little less than in 2015. Naturally that dominant proportion of Cabernet drives the aromatics with blackberry, cedar and graphite aromas. The palate is very well structured, more masculine than the 2015 and maybe without quite the same level of precision, but there is great density and length to this Giscours. I found that improved in the glass, gaining more energy from the ether. It is an impressive follow-up to last year's Giscours.

Drink Date 2022 - 2055

93 - 95 Points

Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker

The 2016 Marquis d'Alesme Becker is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc cropped between 4-24 October and matured in 65% new oak. It has a tight and focused bouquet, well defined but less generous than its peers: blackberry, briary, a touch of limestone and cedar aromas gently unfolding in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a grainy texture, very harmonious with superb depth, perhaps demonstrating more roundness and opulence than its peers with a very concentrated finish where I would just like to see more finesse come through.

Drink Date 2023 - 2050

92 - 94 Points


Château Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux

The 2016 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux was picked between 8 and 13 September and represents just one-third of the production due to a strict selection, around 10,000 bottles. Matured in 20% new oak in more demi-muids than before, it has a glorious bouquet with lime flower, passion fruit and a touch of lychee all with wonderful definition. The palate is very well balanced with a smooth, slightly viscous texture. The acidity counterbalances the richness here and it is blessed with gorgeous tropical tones on the tensile finish. This is excellent.

Drink Date 2019 - 2032/p>

92 - 94 Points