Author Photo - Written by The Vinorium

Decanter - Pauillac

Decanter - Pauillac

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 the Pauillac 2016 wines..</p>

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Château Lafite Rothschild

the classicism of the very best vintages, and the pulse of electricity that runs through it is clear from the first moment you taste it. You are absolutely in Pauillac here, the epitome of what the left bank can deliver in terms of elegance and density: menthol edged tobacco, charcoal and cassis with both a subtlety and an intensity at once. It totally expands through the palate and pulls itself out, stretching out in front of you. It’s a serious wine, but seamless. Concentrated, pure and fresh, everything is in its place. The blend this year is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. Harvest took place between 23rd September and 12th October. 98-100 points.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

99 Points


Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Beautiful mix of power and restraint that you can almost reach out and touch. The extraction is so silky that the effect is a wine that seems endless, suspended above your palate, caressing it and teasing you to find the tannins that are very much hidden. There are some rich coffee seams that fill out on the mid-palate with cassis and ripe blackberry notes, whipped together with violets and peonies. The juicy, mouthwatering quality just keeps on coming. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc from yields around 40hl/ha and with an IPT of 82, 10% higher than in 2010 but you simply can’t tell. This is clearly going to age and age. One of the wines of the vintage, and I am ready to be seduced.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

98 Points


Château Latour

The 2016 blend is 92.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7.1% Merlot, with an IPT of 83. It represents 36% of the overall production. At this stage, you are almost as aware of how much is being held back as how much is being revealed. The power in reserve is thrilling, even more so because although there is a lightness and florality running through the palate, it sacrifices none of the Latour signature. This is more 2005 then 2010 in expression, a beautiful wine with an amazing style that has the length and texture of the great vintages, freshened up by exceptional salinity on the finish. Fine, fine tannins, crushed tobacco and mint leaves, a momentum that is unmissable and more ‘Latour’ than the 2015 was at this stage. Hélène Génin is the winemaker and Vincent Masson (son of Pierre Masson) is the estate’s biodynamic consultant. This vintage is 50% biodynamic for the grand vin (entirely organic), but from 2017 that is being extended to 100%. My guess is that we should expect to wait eight or so years before they put this on the market.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

98 Points


Château Mouton Rothschild

For the 2016 vintage, Philippe Dhalluin and his team have wrought a big, rich Mouton full of seductive grilled coffee bean, slate, graphite, tight cassis and bilberry. This has depth and impact and closely approaches the 2010. Astonishing! Clearly powerful but with the beauty and flourish of Mouton. It is a long lasting wine, just stretching out endlessly in front of you. The tannins are ever present and precise with a sweetness to them and a satin edge. This is 100% new oak, but has that 2016 trick of seeming perfectly integrated already. A wine to age then sink into on some happy future date. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot (the last two were co-vinified, unusually). (Image is the 2014 bottle; the design for the 2016 label will be revealed later).

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

98 Points


Château Pontet-Canet

This is richly layered with seductively ripe fruit. The quality and texture of the brambled blackberries, cassis and bilberries is striking. There is a sense of lightness and juiciness but also depth and flesh - you can feel the joy of that contrast at every step as the wine stretches out in front of you, hard to resist. 2016 is another vintage where they are up at 95%+ of grand vin, this year aged in 55% new casks, 10% in one year old casks and 35% in amphorae. Feel the effects of biodynamics make Pontet Canet stand out for its energy and lush tannins, even with the concentration of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

97 Points


Château Clerc Milon

An estate that has been making great leaps forward over recent years, and once again we have a gorgeous Clerc on our hands. This is extremely succulent, with aromatic complexity and a freshness that just bursts out of the glass. Things start off closed for the first minute or so, then the juice comes rushing through. The mid-palate is smooth and polished but also bursting with energy. This is quite clearly one of their best ever wines, ripped through with sweet cherry and wild blackberry fruit, tightened up by slate and cedar. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere (some of the oldest plantings of this grape in Bordeaux).

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

96 Points


Château Pichon Longueville Baron

This has some rich liquorice and gingerbread flavours, drawing deeply on the cassis fruits of the 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. This is incredibly dense and yet feels almost light across the palate. It doesn’t have the upfront sexiness of the 2009, this is a more cerebral vintage. Neither does it have the architecture of the 2010, although the technical numbers are quite similar with high tannins and a pH of 3.6. It floats and builds up power slowly, with slightly chalky tannins on the finish. Less of a ‘wall’ than some recent years, an excellent wine. 45% of the estate’s production from 73ha. To be aged in 80% new oak for 18 months.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

96 Points


Château Lynch-Bages

As we have increasingly seen in recent years, Lynch-Bages has shifted up a gear to go fuller, bigger and darker. The IPTs are around 95 here, which is unusual even in the northern Médoc, although they are unquestionably yielding, pliable and expertly worked tannins. The result is a hugely impressive wine with a creamy texture through the mid-palate and lashings of dark fruits, graphite and the essential addition of mint leaf freshness on the finish. From a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, with a yield around 42hl/ha, a touch lower than some because the deep gravel produced small berries, all coming in at 3.66pH and accounting for 65% of the overall production. This is a great Lynch without doubt, one for Pauillac purists who are looking for powerful impact.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

95 Points


Château Pédesclaux

A property that has been benefitting from new investment in the form of additional, better quality plots and a new cellar that allows far greater precision - I know everyone says this, but in this case they moved from large, old wooden vats to an array of shapes and sizes. Once again in this vintage you see the results of investment, and we have an utterly delicious Pédesclaux on our hands. Well structured, it has walls but the juice runs down them like in a perfectly filtered underground cavern. Once again it is the stunningly juicy fruit that impresses on the finish, giving a mouthwatering freshness. The blend is 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc - the first vintage in the history of the estate to have all four varieties now that the new plantings have come through. Lots of small berries mean the yield is around 10% up on 2015, to 55hl/ha, without sacrificing concentration. In fact it has more race and concentration than last year, and with a tannin count of 82IPT and 12.5% press wine the apparent delicacy is impressive. 50% new oak, 3.61pH. Get on board with this wine.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2045

94 Points


Château Duhart-Milon

Streamlined and pared back to the essentials, this is an excellent Duhart that has the classic reserve of this wine but with a pure fruit quality. There is a beautiful balance between fruit and tannins, and a clear elegance, almost surprisingly soft for a wine known to be backwards when young. But the softness is deceptive because there is both concentration and richness, it’s simply the 2016 sleight of hand. From a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot, to be aged in 50% new oak.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

95 Points


Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

This has a spicy, almost toasted edge, perfectly balanced depth and a retraction of the tannins through the mid-palate that springs back again on the finish. This vintage sees the addition of 15 new small 80hl stainless steel vats in the cellar, allowing for more precision during fermentation. There is plenty of hidden power going on in this wine, with a tannin index of 79IPT, similar to the 2010. The silky tannins make this large-structured wine deceptive right now, but it is extremely well handled, particularly in the teasing out of mineral, wet stone touches flicking through the dark berry fruits. I expect it will close down a little more than some this year.

94 Points


Château Mouton Rothschild, Aile d’Argent

Another success for the white wines of the Médoc, this is lovely with true freshness expertly pulled together under tension, contrasting with the roundness through the mid-palate. Clear, fleshy white peach and soft citrus is pulled in on the finish by a lick of wet stone. 53% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Semillon and 1% Muscadelle. 27% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation to ensure a creamy character to the body.

Drinking Window 2018 - 2032

94 Points


Château Lynch-Bages, Blanc de Lynch-Bages

This offers more proof that the whites in the Médoc have resisted the heat of August. The pH here is 3.01, and certainly the impression in the glass is of beautiful freshness with a creamy mid-palate of white peaches, honeysuckle and gentle citrus sorbet. Fermented at a low temperature in a combination of stainless steel, one year old barrels and 45% new oak with a very light toast, this is very delicate and extremely pretty. A blend of 52% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon and 18% Muscadelle.

Drinking Window 2019 - 2032

94 Points


Château d’Armailhac

Such richness through the palate, with deep crushed blackberry notes alongside soft coffee bean. I get hints of Petit Mouton here. The Mouton stable measure their tannins in weight, not IPT, and this year comes in even higher than 2010, 4.5g compared to 4g. You don’t feel it because the grain of the tannins is so fine, but it is clearly going to age well, without any dryness. Incredible balance, with a pH of 3.55 giving freshness to the alcohol, and making these wines really not very difficult to taste. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, to be aged in 30% new oak.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2040

93 Points


Château Batailley

A tunnel of tannins takes you right through the palate, but it is not fully walled in as with 2010, rather the tannins are pliable and the overall feeling is of well controlled fruit that deepens as you go along. The blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 12% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, and a pH of 3.6. Wonderfully deep fruit flavours of blackberry and crushed cassis reside against black chocolate and well contained tannins. A lovely vintage that has power but is just the right side of big extraction. Good persistency with a coffee-scented finish. This is a buy, for sure.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2045

93 Points


Château Grand-Puy Ducasse

A big vintage of Grand-Puy Ducasse, continuing the ambition shown over recent vintages. The coffee bean aromatics are perfectly judged to give an appealing hint of oak, alongside cedar notes and dark cassis fruits. There is an austerity to the opening beats of the wine, and the tannins make their presence felt right the way through. Overall this is excellent. It is unusual to have such good yields, close to 50hl/ha, with equally good quality. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2040

93 Points


Château Haut-Bages Libéral

This wine shows notes of charcoal, cassis and blackcurrant bud. It is more restrained than some in the appellation, with a well placed structure and a pleasurable future ahead of it. A Villars-Lurton estate in the process of converting to organic and biodynamic farming methods. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot aged in 40% new oak.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2040

91 Points


Château Fonbadet

A great wine, with well judged extraction that is tight without being rustic. It takes you right up to the edge and could perhaps have let in a little more juice on the finish, but I love the complexity on the nose, the cassis and menthol on the finish and the brushing of Petit Verdot spice. This is a recent change to a Michel Rolland consultation, overseen by Julien Viaud for the past two years. 33% new oak following vinification in cement, from a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2038

91 Points


Château Lynch-Bages, Echo de Lynch-Bages

Echo de Lynch-Bages this year accounts for 25% of overall production, and even here we are at a tannin index of 85IPT. But the freshness is undeniable, with a pH of 3.55 giving beautiful violet reflections on the colour. On the palate, there are softer brambly fruits than in the grand vin. 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2038

91 Points


Château Duhart-Milon

This enjoyable wine has some attractive, ripe round fruit until those Pauillac tannins close in on the finish. This is a good Moulin, harvested through to 12th October. The blend is 79% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2040

90 Points


Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

This is a beautifully fresh wine with lovely, juicy black cassis flavours. The day-night temperature changes of up to 20 degrees centigrade made a huge difference to the quality of the tannins, and GPL has some of the steepest slopes and best draining soils in Pauillac to cope with the wet early season (although this also meant some blockage of young vines during the drought). Overall they have produced a plush, easy drinking wine that offers great pleasure. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, with a yield of 50hl/ha.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2040

90 Points


Chateau La Fleur Peyrabon

This is pretty closed down. Feel the weight and the swagger of the tannins, it’s a good wine but more foursquare and old school than many Pauillacs who have worked their tannins a little more silkily this year. But I like the traditional side to it - a Pauillac lovers’ Pauillac, and a value pick at this wine’s usual price point.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2038

90 Points