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Decanter - Saint-Julien

Decanter - Saint-Julien

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 Saint-Julien 2016 wines..

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Château Léoville Las Cases

Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 75% of the main blend, with 14% of 80 year old Merlot and 11% of Cabernet Franc, and aged in 90% new oak. It is hard to think of a vintage when this is not a great wine, but in 2016 it is exceptional, comparable to the majestic 1996. It has all the intensity, richness and depth, but it lets the light in. The yield is fairly high at 40hl/ha, with 3.66pH balancing a tannin index of 82IPT. This is the highest ever at this property and yet the wine is elegant, gorgeous and juicy, with an endless array of black fruits and graphite. The tannins are right there pushing at the front of the mouth, but remain pliable. No need to worry about this ageing long into the future. 98-100 points.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

99 Points



Château Ducru-Beaucaillou

Another exceptional success for St-Julien in 2016, following the longest growing season in the recorded history of the property. Reasonable alcohols, because of the slow maturation, emphasise the juiciness of the fruit. Hugely intense and concentrated black brambly fruits, with layer upon layer of stunning liquorice, dark chocolate, rich black cherry and graphite. This is an utterly beautiful wine and it approaches the essence of what owner Bruno Borie must want for this estate, I am sure. It is easy to imagine uncorking this with excitement in 10 or 15 years. The final blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, with a high tannin index of 80IPT and a 3.71pH, aged in 100% new oak for 18 months.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

97 Points



Château Léoville-Barton

Restrained but textured, a confident delivery of lashings of cassis, bilberry and blackberry fruits. This is an exceptional Léoville-Barton that sacrifices none of its St-Julien signature while delivering a powerful, beautifully sculpted wine. This is a total triumph, my favourite for years at this property.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

96 Points



Château Leoville Poyferré

This is always a big, dramatic wine which does well in big vintages. Right through the palate you feel the beautiful architecture, and the beauty of 2016 means that the final impression is of a sophisticated but supremely balanced wine with a modern construction. Damsons and bilberries abound, with clear tension where the skin of the wine is pulled tightly over the drum. It is less of a ‘classical’ St-Julien than some this year, but it is entirely of itself, and excellent. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, with a full 55% of the overall production making it into the grand vin, which has 3.66pH. Michel Rolland has been consultant for many years, working closely alongside owner Didier Cuvelier.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

96 Points



Château Gruaud Larose

A balanced, measured, incredibly tight delivery of the triumvirate of tannins, fruit and acidity. The architecture hits the level of the 2010, fairly unusual in a year where the tannins have such a deft brush stroke in the main. This is a great Gruaud that is going to run and run. Aged for 18 months in 80% new oak. As of 2017, half of the vineyard (approximately 40ha) is being worked biodynamically.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

95 Points



Château Saint-Pierre

Structured and measured with grippy tannins, this is a subtle yet extremely successful wine. Fully ripe black fruits are joined by gentle spices that slowly curl up through the palate. These guys have been delivering such a fantastic run of vintages and continue to do so here - for me yet another St-Julien that is clearly better than the 2015.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2045

95 Points



Château Lagrange

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot. Château Lagrange is at 50% grand vin in 2016, which is its highest since the Suntory group became owners in 1983. They say that until now the percentage of Fiefs de Lagrange has always been higher, but in 2016 many plots planted in 1985 reached maturity. Together with the exceptional quality of the vintage and the intra-plot selection, this means more top quality wine destined for the grand vin. There is lovely concentration in this wine, with spicy pepper and cinnamon notes coming to the fore before the blackcurrant takes over on the mid-palate. 2016 was the longest harvest ever, according to technical director Matthieu Bordes, right through to 24th October. No doubt this is a fantastic Lagrange, to be savoured.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2045

95 Points



Château Langoa Barton

This is a controlled, confident and elegant demonstration of the appellation in this vintage. Coffee grounds on the nose and through the mid palate with tight, cassis-drenched fruits, cedar and menthol, ticking those St-Julien boxes.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points



Château Branaire-Ducru

Always a supremely elegant, measured take on St-Julien that delivers in spades in 2016. Plush damson fruit comes through with just the right level of extraction. Beautifully rich, ripe fruit is joined by touches of oak at exactly the right moment. An exceptional showing from Branaire that rises above its 2015.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2045

94 Points



Château Talbot

Lovely deep damson colour with violet edging that suggests a healthy pH. Great balance of fruit and acidity, this is one of the fresher wines of the appellation. The fruit is cleanly extracted, fresh and well paced, with a lovely layer of complexity driven by smoke-edged mineral notes. Aged in 50% new oak.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points



Château Beychevelle

An extremely successful Beychevelle this year, a carefully drawn wine where the fruit register is deep and dark, the tannins a little brooding, and a seam of freshness runs right through and picks things up. Excellent persistency, a beautiful wine.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points



Château Gloria

Immediately on the nose you get the rich structure of the fruit, rippling with texture and life. It has just the right amount of drama, offering a tight and well-focussed delivery. This is beautiful, showing great underlying freshness and grip with real tension and minerality.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

94 Points



Château Léoville Las Cases, Clos du Marquis

Once again, proof of the hard to fault success in St-Julien in 2016. I really recommend Clos du Marquis for its St-Julien spirit - elegant, endless and classical, with menthol, cedar and black fruit, and tannins that softly float alongside.

Drinking Window 2024 - 2038

92 Points



Château Ducru-Beaucaillou

Produced from Gunz gravels on south-facing slopes, with their high iron-oxide content. The blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, with a 3.65ph and aged in 60% new oak barrels. The grapes were picked from 27th September to 5th October, taking advantage of the first rains of September but not those of October. Here they have the benefits of the fresh air from the Garonne river that Ducru looks out over, so long, slow ripening of the grapes is evident in a cooling, fresh finish that adds lift and juice to the black cherry fruits. Lovely spice evident through the palate also.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2040

92 Points



Château Léoville Las Cases, Le Petit Lion de Marquis de Las Cases

This is more of a Léoville Las Cases expression, while Clos de Marquis is more of a St-Julien expression. The blend is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc, aged in 30% new oak. Even here the Merlot is 50-60 years old, together with young vines up to 20 years old, with a yield of 40hl/ha and representing 35% of the production. This has a stunning cassis mid-palate with a menthol freshness on the finish. It really does deliver a lot of the poise and power of the grand vin, but should be able to begin drinking in five to eight years. 3.69pH.

Drinking Window 2024 - 2038

91 Points

Château du Glana

Owned by brothers Ludovic and Julien Meffre, this wine is a deep purple colour with extremely aromatic juice, delivering the triumvirate of what you want in a primeur wine - fruit, freshness and genuine astringency on the tannins. The black cherry and cassis fruit is inevitably held back a little at this stage, but there is potential for bedding down during ageing, making this a very promising wine. Good St-Julien classicism on display here. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Merlot with 12 months in 40% new oak. Christophe Olliver of the Dubourdieu group is consulting oenologist here. A wine to watch, these vines once formed part of the Saint Pierre estate.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2040

91 Points



Château Moulin de La Rose

Ruby red in colour with deep, surprisingly open aromas of summer cherries shot through with smoky notes. The oak impact smooths the palate, delivering good intensity for early to medium term drinking. Lifts nicely on the finish, an enjoyable wine.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2038

90 Points



Château Lalande-Borie

55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 33% new oak. 3.67pH. This wine is packed with generous fruits and some lovely, deep tannins that are both flexible and fresh. The vines for this wine are 13ha on the western side of the appellation near La Mouline river, made up of sandy soils with extremely fine gravels. Again, this shows that you can find quality and value at every level in St-Julien in 2016.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2038

90 Points



Château Les Ormes

A grilled, slightly fleshy feel with silky tannins. A very elegant style and very enticing. Just 1ha of vines from the owner of Château Teynac - both estates are in St-Julien but he decides to keep them separate to reflect their different terroirs.

Drinking Window 2025 - 2038

89 Points



Château Talbot

An attractive, smoky nose with some brambly dark fruits. A good St-Julien with plenty of juicy fruit signature, followed by a mouthwatering finish, this is a good second wine.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2050

89 Points



Château Léoville Las Cases, La Petite Marquise

The new second wine of Clos de Marquis. The blend here comes in at 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38.5% Merlot and 0.5% Cabernet Franc. There is an attractive touch of white pepper spice on the attack with juicy, tight and controlled fruit. This is a good showing from the young vines of Clos du Marquis, and should be around the same price level as Château Potensac in the same stable of Delon wines. My advice would be to not forget about the brilliant pleasure available in their Médoc wines this year.

Drinking Window 2022 - 2034

89 Points



Château Lalande

Tight, sappy, bright fruit, a touch over extracted but with attractive cinnamon spice coming through. It has good persistency and the juiciness comes through at the close of play.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2035

88 Points



Château La Bridane

Bruno Saintout owns this small St-Julien estate, with a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot -an unusual blend in an appellation with over 90% Cabernet Sauvignon planted. This is a little tight, with dominant vanilla on the nose which quickly softens to offer some classic old-school St-Julien with sappy red fruits with curls of liquorice root held by slightly austere tannins. A great lunchtime claret for medium term drinking.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2038

87 Points



Château Teynac

Bright, well extracted and extremely vibrant fruit with great impact on the primary attack. It doesn’t quite hold its grip through the mid-palate, but does deliver fruit and oak intensity. Good potential for the medium term.

Drinking Window 2023 - 2035

87 Points