Friday, April 29, 2016

Bordeaux 2015 En Primeur - Left Bank Wrap

At Smith Haut Lafitte with
Ludovic Fradin, Director,
and Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker
I quickly learned the amount of driving it takes to get around Bordeaux, and especially the Left Bank.  My black Peugeot sedan, so sleek and shiny from the rental lot, was thoroughly mud streaked by the end of 1.5 weeks! (Yes, I was fortuitously upgraded; Peugeot is a fine car.) Despite rushing around and apologizing for being late, every château visit was absolutely and deliciously worth it! 2015 is showing well for many wines, each in their own unique way.

I'm excited to share with you a selection of wines that are excellently made and that particularly stand out to me, to wrap up my Left Bank tour. (For more Left Bank wines, please see previous reports Day 1More Left Bank, and First Growths.)

Standout Wines

Palmer (Margaux): Deeply concentrated with strikingly delicate fragrance of raspberry, black cherries, black currant, and vanilla. It is still very tight and closed, with a little tomato leaf green quality that will integrate as the wine matures. In a hot vintage where many of the wines are already showing very expansive fruit, Palmer stands out in that it is more a 'crouching tiger, hidden dragon'. While it is dense with bold tannins, its structure and freshness is unmistakable. Its fruit and full bloom will come with time, and it will be worth the wait.

Branaire-Ducru 2015
Branaire-Ducru (St-Julien): Incredibly fresh and smooth with fine tannins, and an elegant bouquet of plums, cherries, blackberries, cassis, and vanilla. The château's signature style of poise and smoothness is clearly evident. It is drinking beautifully now, and it will evolve and last.

Grand Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac): A bumper crop of cherries and plums is waiting to emerge to full shine in the coming years ... all the potential is there! Already fragrant with red fruit and baking spices, there is a striking mineral frisson that makes this a very memorable wine.

Montrose (St-Estèphe): Bright raspberry, cherries, vanilla, cedar and plenty of acidity to keep this wine fresh. The beautiful initial to mid-palate swells with fruit, and continues to open with cherries and a bit of white pepper on the finish. What a delight to feel all these waves of fruit layers!

Pape Clément (Pessac-Léognan): This wine showed even more beautifully on subsequent tasting. Wood spices give a tantalizing kick to fragrant red and black fruits. Taut acidity balances the ripe tannins; these will mellow to round out the wine and lend it freshness for years to come. The 2015 has the Pape Clément signature elegant frame and complexity in the nose and palate. Most memorably, after the tannins crest in the mid-palate, the perfume of red and black berries lingers on.
Beautiful room at Château Pape Clément. 

Smith Haut Lafitte (Pessac-Léognan): High toned dense black fruits (brambles, cherries), vanilla. Very fresh, fine integrated tannins resolve smoothly in an incredibly satisfying way. Still a bit chewy yet extremely elegant, this is an aromatic, lifted wine that has much to present in the coming years. Its full beauty of fruit and body will continue to reveal itself.

Les Carmes Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan): This is showing even better on repeated tasting: Ripe and sunny with bright red cherries, plums, a bit of toast on the end. Very fine tannins. This is a stately wine: not a fruit bomb, not a plush wine, but very focused, linear, and incredibly fragrant.

Haut Bailly (Pessac-Léognan): Dark bramble, cassis, mineral and spices. Very structured and smooth with fine tannins. It has the Haut Bailly signature silkiness and the bright fruit of the vintage, without any hint of jam. The château has achieved an incredible balance with their 2015 vintage.

Excellent Wines

Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2015
Beychevelle (St-Julien): Beautifully balanced, a dark and elegant wine. Dense yet sweetly lifted with cassis, blackcurrants, and vanilla. It has strong and integrated tannins, with a delightfully smooth quality that lends this wine great poise.

Pichon Baron (Pauillac): Very subtle and demure, yet redolent of raspberries, cherries, blackberry, and cassis. There is a lovely light, toasty quality to the finish. Fine tannins and a smooth texture make for a very refined wine.

Magrez Fombrauge (St-Emilion): This is Right Bank, but it was part of the Château Pape Clément tasting and in the venerable Bernard Magrez portfolio. This is a bold wine, dense and muscular with concentrated ripe dark red fruits. It may be big, but it's not brooding; rather, it has a very warm feeling to it. It will last decades and pair deliciously with red meats and duck!

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan): This is the second label of famous first growth Haut-Brion, originally known as Bahans de Haut-Brion (the name changed in 2007). It's still made from grapes from the same sites as Haut-Brion, and by the same great team. To call it "Haut-Brion Light" doesn't do La Clarence justice: It has its own character. 2015 is rounded and subtle on the nose and bright with red berries on the palate, underscored by earth and mineral. The robust tannins will integrate nicely with time. Very elegant.  

Haut-Brion Lineup, with Le Clarence 2015
Quintus (St. Emilion): Want to enjoy a delicious wine from the makers of Haut-Brion at a great price point? Quintus (and its second label, Dragon de Quintus) is a wonderful opportunity. Very bright and sunny, bursting with stewed cherries and plums, with vibrant vanilla. Full, structured, and fresh, this is drinking perfectly now. 

Le Pape (Pessac-Léognan): From the Haut Bailly team comes a generous, big bodied, ripe and approachable wine to enjoy now! Ripe red cherries and plums with toast and coffee on the finish. The tannins are bold but well integrated, a very giving wine to enjoy with duck, pot roast, or a nice portobello mushroom dish.

That's a wrap for the Left Bank 2015 red wines! Thank you for allowing me to share with you the wines I am excited about. When they are ready for the world, we will look forward to enjoying them together.

No comments:

Post a Comment