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Neal Martin - Pomerol

Neal Martin - Pomerol

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Château L’Eglise Clinet

The 2016 L’Eglise-Clinet is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc picked between 21 September and 4 October for the former and on 6 October for the latter. It was cropped at 43 hectoliters per hectare and matured in 80% new oak, with around 14.2% alcohol. Lucid in color, it has a quintessential L’Eglise-Clinet bouquet with blackberry, raspberry coulis, liquid minerals and hints of iris and incense. The palate is very precise and crisp, some of the finest tannins that you will encounter in Pomerol, tensile right from the beginning, taut and linear with immense precision towards the extended mineral-soaked finish. This is nothing less than a brilliant wine from Denis Durantou, undoubtedly one of the stars of the vintage.

Drink Date 2024 - 2050

97 - 99 Points


Château Clinet

The 2016 Clinet is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon that was picked from 22 September for the young vines, the older vines picked 1 and 2 October, finishing with the Cabernet Sauvignon the following day. It was cropped at 49 hectoliters per hectare and matured in 70% new oak and the remainder in second-fill barrels. It has 14.15% alcohol and a record-breaking 94 IPT. It has a very linear bouquet, quite strict and intense with a light iodine and marine scent merging with the black fruit. This is a more “aristocratic” nose for Clinet, sophisticated and one of the most nuanced I have encountered. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin that forms the foundation of a more masculine Clinet, complex and focused with a subtle spiciness coming through on the finish, which fans out with confidence and leaves a disarming, saline tang in the mouth. Yes, this is a magnificent Clinet, cool and mineral-soaked, both cerebral and lip-smackingly delicious.

Drink Date 2024 - 2055

96 - 98 Points


Château La Conseillante

The 2016 La Conseillante is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc picked from 22 September to 13 October and 12-17 October at 39.5 hectoliters per hectare. Winemaker Marielle Cazaux told me that there is 13.8% alcohol, nearly one degree less than in 2015, with a pH of 3.65 and it is matured in 70% new oak. This has a succinct bouquet that is stylistically not that far removed from its neighbor Vieux Château Certan: detailed and understated at first with scents of blackberry, wild hedgerow and a touch of pressed flowers. The palate is very well balanced with a fine backbone, but what really marks out this La Conseillante is the salinity that comes through on the second half. It exerts a gentle grip in the mouth, reveals a little spiciness towards the finish whereupon it gently fans out, leaving a touch of black pepper on the saline aftertaste. This is a classic La Conseillante and the best since the majestic 2010. Similar to that vintage, it will require several years in bottle, but it will be well worth the wait.

Drink Date 2023 - 2060

96 - 98 Points


Château Lafleur

The 2016 Lafleur is a blend of 45% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Franc picked 24-30 September and 11 October, matured in one-third new oak and around 14.3% alcohol. It has a very backward bouquet that demanded a lot of coaxing from the glass. Here there are introspective black fruit, a touch of shucked oyster shell and Japanese nori, opening reluctantly with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a saline entry, spicier than the 2015 Lafleur when I tasted it from barrel last year, edgy and minerally with a touch of truffle towards the persistent finish. This is a cerebral and yet vivacious Lafleur at this prenatal stage, a great Pomerol that will require a decade in bottle. Baptiste Guinaudeau appeared quietly confident about this latest vintage and he has every right to be. Do afford it plenty of cellaring, though, as it’s not a 2016 to appease those without patience.

Drink Date 2026 - 2060

96 - 98 Points


Château Le Pin

The 2016 Le Pin was made from ten different lots from the usual six, because the drought affected the different parcels and vines needed separating (indicated by paint mark on the pole). It was cropped from 4 October, the first time that picking has begun that month, at 28-30 hectoliters per hectare and there is 14.5% alcohol. It has a fresh and generous bouquet with red cherries, cranberry and pomegranate scents, the oak beautifully integrated, touches of black truffle and even a hint of smoke tucked in just underneath. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin, tightly wound and taut, with a stunning sense of focus. I cannot remember a Le Pin with such tension and detail at this early juncture, perhaps even quite understated towards the saline finish, but very very precise. This is a sophisticated Le Pin from Jacques Thienpont, one that I am certain will age with style. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

Drink Date 2022 - 2050

96 - 98 Points


Château Petrus

The 2016 Petrus was picked from 28 September until 11 October and matured in 55% new oak. It has 14.9% alcohol, which is the same as in 2010; however, the pH is much lower at 3.35. For the first 15-20 minutes, the wine was tight-lipped and did not want to come out and play (Olivier passed the time by showing me some interesting videos on his mobile phone). Then it unfolds to reveal very pure blackcurrant and bilberry fruit with a violet and underlying sea spray scent that becomes more and more noticeable. The definition here is very impressive. The palate is medium-bodied with quite juicy and dense tannin, a little edginess on the entry with that marine influence continuing from start to finish. This is a cerebral Petrus, not unlike the 2010 at this stage, the alcohol disguised towards the finish, but lending this volume and an uncommon flamboyance for the vintage that marks it out from nearly every other Pomerol. The key though, is that it retains that freshness and detail. Whether it will match up to the sensational 2015 Petrus, we will have to wait and see. What is for sure is that this is a deeply impressive Pomerol that might just have a few tricks up its sleeve.

Drink Date 2023 - 2060

96 - 98 Points


Château Trotanoy

The 2016 Trotanoy is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc this year. It easily possesses the finest bouquet within the J-P Moueix portfolio. It blossoms in the glass with exuberant black and red fruit infused with minerals, black truffle and a hint of blood orange, yet there is always something enigmatic about Trotanoy at this primordial stage, something on which you cannot put your finger. The palate is medium-bodied with firm structure, slightly chalky tannins surrounded by wondrous, vibrant black fruit that shimmers in the glass. It is a brilliant Trotanoy that is bound up with energy and tension. Superb from start to finish, this is likely to surpass the 2015 and is one of the stars of Pomerol this vintage.

Drink Date 2028 - 2055

96 - 98 Points


Château Vieux Chateau Certan

The 2016 Vieux Chateau Certan is a blend of 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon that was picked at 40.50 hectoliters per hectare, in three stages of picking: 3-7, 10-11 and 17-18 October. It has a high IPT of 82 and a pH of 3.77. It has a very refined bouquet with blackberry, briary and morello cherries that are tightly wound at first, but open gradually with aeration. The Merlot is fully in control aromatically; this is not a VCC governed by the Cabernet Franc this year, consistent with the 2016 vintage. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin. There is plenty of dark berry fruit laced with hints of earl grey and bay leaf, a complex and cerebral Pomerol with a long, precise and (to put it banally) delicious finish. This is another outstanding wine from Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont.

Drink Date 2022 - 2060

95 - 97 Points


Château Gazin

The 2016 Gazin is a blend of 87% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc this year, picked from 22 September with respect to the Merlot and from around 7 or 8 October for the Cabernet Franc. Now this has quite a powerful bouquet for Gazin, more heightened fruit compared to recent vintages with blackberry, briary and pressed flower aromas that are well defined (although my sample demanded two or three minutes to really find its voice). The palate is medium-bodied with a gently grip on the entry. I adore the tannic structure to this Gazin, equidistant between masculine and feminine, a backbone that will ensure this will age over many years. There is abundant, lightly spiced black fruit with a touch of cracked black pepper and clove towards the finish. The 50% new oak will add a little muscle onto the finish, thereupon you will have a really marvelous Gazin that will give three years of drinking pleasure, possibly more.

Drink Date 2023 - 2055

94 - 96 Points


Château L'Evangile

The 2016 L'Evangile is a blend of 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc; the latter suffered more stress than the Merlot this year, especially the younger three and ten-year-old plantings. It was picked from 26 September until 10 October, which is earlier than many other Right Bank properties. It has a clean and precise bouquet with mineral-infused black fruit, more "distant" than the 2015 last year. With time, that small proportion of Cabernet Franc becomes more evident. The palate is medium-bodied with firm and grainy tannin. This is very structured as this Pomerol is wont to be, a gentle grip in the mouth, touches of tar and tobacco towards the finish that needs a little more flesh. I feel that this will develop during its élevage. This is excellent, although I do miss the contribution of the Cabernet Franc.

Drink Date 2022 - 2045

94 - 96 Points


Château Clos du Clocher

The 2016 Clos du Clocher is a blend of 79% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc, picked 10-17 October at 44 hectoliters per hectare and matured in 65% new oak. This includes some vinification intégrale. It has a very clean and precise bouquet with pure blackberry, raspberry and cold stone aromas, the oak beautifully integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, with an edginess from start to finish, and saline vein that becomes more evident towards the finish. I love the focus, the intent of this Clos du Clocher, never compromising one iota of finesse from start to finish. Being located smack bang on the plateau has really yielded dividends for this Pomerol and it should age with style over 20, maybe 30 years.

Drink Date 2022 - 2050

93 - 95 Points


Château Clos l'Eglise

The 2016 Clos l'Eglise is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, and was the first to be picked by the Garçin-Léveque family (before Barde-Haut, d'Arce and Poesia). It has a high pH of 3.65 and it was matured in 100% new French oak. It has a very intense bouquet with macerated small black cherries, raspberry coulis, oyster shells and crushed violets, well defined and quite penetrating in style. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, layers of black fruit laced with black pepper and a touch of black pepper. There is a little chewiness to the texture towards the harmonious finish, which is one of the most primal that I have encountered in recent years. The barrel maturation will lend a little more sheen to this Pomerol--a long-term prospect that will deserve several years in bottle.

Drink Date 2022 - 2045

93 - 95 Points


Château Enclos Tourmaline

The 2016 Enclos Tourmaline is pure Merlot cropped at 50 hectoliters per hectare and matured in new oak. It has a beautiful bouquet with black cherries, crushed violets and just a hint of licorice that is very well defined and gains intensity with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with fine delineation, good weight in the mouth with a fine line of acidity. One bottle felt a little pinched, but a second was much more refined and demonstrated superb detail and focus on the finish, with a gorgeous saline/black pepper aftertaste. My score reflects that second showing.

Drink Date 2023 - 2045

93 - 95 Points


Château Feytit Clinet

The 2016 Feytit Clinet, a blend of 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc, has such purity on the nose that you would almost consider this to be a Grand Cru Burgundy! It unfolds in the glass, black cherries mixed with raspberry coulis, just a little new oak to be integrated as it will during its barrel maturation. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe blackberry and bilberry notes, here certainly in Pomerol territory with sage and black truffle emerging towards the persistent finish. Jéremy Chasseuil has crafted a wonderful follow-up to the impressive 2015 Feytit-Clinet and I cannot wait to taste this from bottle.

Drink Date 2020 - 2045

93 - 95 Points


Château Les Cruzelles

The 2016 Les Cruzelles, Denis Durantou's second estate in Lalande-de-Pomerol, is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc picked 22-29 September and on 6 October, respectively. The yield is 40 hectoliters per hectare, and it is matured in 50% new oak. It has a very fragrant bouquet with perfumed red cherry and crushed strawberry fruit infused with minerals, like the La Chenade, very harmonious and detailed. The palate is medium-bodied with crunchy red berry fruit, crisp acidity, a little spicier than the La Chenade and perhaps with a touch more persistence on the finish. Cellar space should be made for this sensual and engaging wine, and if prices follow their trend as in previous years, it could be one of the Right Bank's outstanding values.

Drink Date 2020 - 2035

91 - 93 Points