2016 Bordeaux – nice, but not too nice…

I once read a good line about young love, and the act of love, that stuck: in the ideal romance, each act is better than the one before, yet not so great that there is no room for improvement. Room must be left for the amelioration of physical love to continue. This came back to me the other day, and obviously got me thinking about Bordeaux.

After three tricky vintages on the spin in 2011, 2012 and 2013, Bordeaux has had a hat-trick of rather good ones in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The general view qualifies their merit as follows: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2013.

The tail end of that order is correct. 2013s really are pretty awful. 2011s aren’t much fun. 2012s are okay with some winners. I’m not convinced, though, with the greatness of 2016 or 2015 though stress – and this is relevant for more than one reason – that I didn’t visit Bordeaux to taste the 2015s or 2016s from barrel.

BBR kindly let me in to their tasting of the 2016 vintage earlier this month. Herewith a few thoughts:

Neal Martin is right about Beychevelle. It’s ()*&ing good.

If you can still buy some Carmes-Haut-Brion then do so. To be fair I was always slightly wary of the “new” Carmes. The man in charge, Guillaume Pouthier, is very endearing and a bit of a nutter (generally a good thing in a wine man), but I feared that he was “over-making” the wine. On reflection I was, I think, wrong. Yes, he plays around a bit (the 2016 has some whole bunch fermentation) but the result is something rather special, and Carmes is a rather special place.

Calon-Ségur. In 2016 this is a lush wine. Delicious. St Estèphe isn’t supposed to be lush, but the Calon “poise” is all there and this is rather good juice.

The Bartons. As ever, it is unnecessary to taste them. Brilliant wines as always, and you can write the note without even sniffing either of them.

Best wine in the room was Lascases, which is as it should be. Truly grand vin. The two Pichons gave it a run for its money.

Other wines worthy of a mention are Cantenac-Brown (yes, really), Clinet, Clos Fourtet, Conseillante, Haut-Bailly and Figeac, which might just be brilliant but I’m not totally sure.

But, and there’s always a but: back to that act of love thing. The general consensus of opinion is that 2015 is better than 2014, and that 2016 is better than 2015. That may well be the case. There is, nonetheless, plenty of room for a humdinger.