Bordeaux 2015 Primeur

15. Februar 2016Deutsch

2015, a magical year

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Bordeaux vintage 2015

Tasting notes Left Bank / Médoc / Pessac

- Château Haut Brion (100 WR) - release 385.- € (+60%)
- Château La Mission Haut Brion (100 WR) - release 300.- € (+107%)
- Château Latour (97-99+ WR)
- Château Palmer (97-99 WR) - release 210.- € (+31%)
- Château Mouton Rothschild (96-98 WR) - release 384.- € (+60%)
- Château Lafite Rothschild (96-98 WR) - release 420.- € (+46%)
- Château Margaux (95-97 WR) - release 384.- € (+60%)
- Château Ducru Beaucaillou (94-96+ WR) - release 120.- € (+52%)
- Château Smith Haut Lafitte (94-96+ WR) - release 60.- € (+32%)
- Château Pichon Baron (94-96 WR) - release 96.- € (+45%)
- Château Calon-Ségur (94-96 WR) - release 53.- € (+26%)
- Château Léoville Las Cases (94-96 WR) - release 138.- € (+44%)
- Château Pichon Lalande (94-96 WR) - release 96.- € (+48%)
- Château Léoville Barton (93-95 WR) - release 54.- € (+23%)
- Château Cos d`Estournel (91-93 WR) - release 120.- € (+42%)
- Château Pontet Canet (89-91 WR) - release 75.-/88.- € (+14%)
- Château Montrose (88-90 WR) - release 102.- € (+15%)
- Château Lynch Bages (88-90 WR) - release 84.- € (+40%)

Tasting notes Right Bank / Pomerol / St.-Emilion

- Château Tertre Roteboeuf (100 WR) - release 100.- € | our wine of the vintage !
- Château Vieux Château Certan (98-100 WR) - release 150.- € (+47%)
- Château Lafleur (97-99+ WR) - release 420.- € (+27%)
- Château Cheval Blanc (96-98+ WR) - release 540.- € (+50%)
- Château L`Evangile (96-98+ WR) - release 150.- € (+67%)
- Château Figeac (95-97+ WR) - release 102.- € (+70%)
- Château Canon (95-97 WR) - release 60.- € (+55%)
- Château Troplong Mondot (93-95 WR) - release 82,80€ (+44%)
- Château Ausone (91-94 WR) - release 540.- € (+50%)

Tasting notes white wines

- Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (94-96 WR)
- Château d`Yquem (94-96 WR)

April, 29th, 2016

3-772-6 those are The Wine Advocate`s, better known as Robert Parker, dream measurements when it comes to Bordeaux rating. Since 2014 Neil Martin follows in his footsteps, which is a huge responsibility after 30 years of Robert Parker. He alone made Bordeaux famous and Bordeaux made him famous as well.

Neil Martin spend not just the Primeur week but three weeks in Bordeaux tasting and made 772 tasting notes and rated six wines with 98-100 points and therewith left the magical 100 points still up to the future to be achieved. Quoted are just the rating points, however the comments are much more essential for a full understanding of the wine.

To be clear: we think that Neil Martin is the best wine journalist at this moment. His notes are funny, precise and very informing. His opinion is benchmark, rigorous, as neutral as possible and based on a very precise education.

We were happy to read that we had rated the same wines as extraordinary, many of them are not among the greatest names: e.g. Figeac, Tertre Roteboeuf, Palmer, Calon Ségur, L'Evangile, Canon. And some more did extraordinary well: Mouton, Margaux, Lafleur, Vieux Châteaux Certan. And we share the downgrading of St.Estephe this year. And without a doubt, Haut Brion was out of this world perfection. The 98-100 points are too pessimism, those are definitely 100. Overall an excellent article from the Wine Advocate!

April, 10th, 2016

Once again the Primeur week is over and other than last year and despite the rainy weather forecast, we were spoiled with sun and enjoyed spring in Bordeaux. Press and buyers had a big interest in this vintage and a lot of people arrived, but the landscape is incredibly spacious and people spread over many different event locations. Approximately one-third of the visitors came from Asia and as always, many importers from the US and the UK arrived in large groups. They are accompanied by their Negotiants who organize the visits to the Châteaux. The Negotiants always stick to their wineries (sometimes they visit the same Château several days in a row, presenting it to different clients), and the international guest travel with another Negotiant everyday.

Primeur week comes with a lot of young wine and an incredible ignorant local gastronomy. One would think that its their best time of the year, but the restaurants don't even open – I guess there are enough McDonalds and Michel Star restaurants around for all the visitors.

By now almost all Châteaux are renovated or built entirely new. The tasting rooms at Margaux and Lafite were newly opened and both include an excellent tasting atmosphere. It seems that Château Beychevelle is expanding with a lot of glass and money at the moment. We still don't understand why no tasting room is equipped with chairs, taking notes while standing becomes quite exhausting after a couple of visits. The amount of people who are visiting the Châteaux varies from 50 to 500 a day, an alternative are the UGCB tastings which are always held on a different Châteaux in every appellation. Or one can just go to Bordeaux city – at least there's a chance to find food in a nearby Novotel.

Primeur tasting at Château Palmer

Left Bank (Médoc)

For a more detailed description of the weather conditions in the Médoc and the northern appellations please head to our article about the Primeur 2015. The Châteaux were all very unequally effected by the rain during the harvest and that makes an exact differentiation of the wines crucial. While the weather favored the region of Saint-Estèphe in 2014, the opposite was true for this year. Especially the wines from Montrose, Lynch Bages and Pontet Canet were little convincing this year. All three wines showed a spicy, unripe note of acidity and little fruit. Calon Ségur performed very positively although it's located even further in the north. While the renovations of the Châteaux were proceeding, they obviously still found some time to make an excellent wine. With fruit, character and a nice structure we were very positively surprised and even the finish is long and delicate. This will be a great wine in some years and that's quite important since the new owners want to continue the high period of Calon Ségur. Director Vincent Millet claims this vintage as major for the Château.

The wines of Cos d`Estournel 2015.

Further south Cos d'Estounel show a fine vintage of 2015. The finish comes with flavors of pepper, but in a good way. The fruit hides behind a coat of characteristic, but not unripe tannins. Whether the wine will find its place with time is uncertain – a beautiful wine without a doubt, but we would have expected more from Cos d'Estournel. For this Château we would recommend to stay with the 2014 and the same is true for Pontet Canet, which is located further south in the region of Pauillac. It seems as if the biodynamic agriculture has its limits with weather conditions like these. Alfred Tesseron claims the 2015 vintage as the best of his career – that's a mystery to us.

But the further wineries in Pauillac were more promising: Mouton made an aromatic wine with a fine, classic scent, a wonderful color and a great structure. The new facilities for the blends are remarkably more precise in the vinification. The finish is long and with a touch of pepper, mint and herbs. The notes of tobacco are unmistakable a sign for perfectly ripe tannins. A classic and impressive wine, but we are missing the potential for addiction. Enter another world at their neighbor Lafite Rothschild. They are also a prototype of the famous Château but completely different than everything else in the Médoc: a filmy, elegant, soft and smooth wine, which seems to be dancing on the palate. Magnificent length and power combined with great softness and without a single edge. Compared to their neighbor Cos d'Estournel the quality of this Premier Cru terroir becomes ever more obvious. Whether you prefer Mouton or Lafite is a matter of taste. It is quite rare to see that both opponent characteristics show in perfection – accuracy on highest level.

Once again outstanding wines from Château Latour. Unfortunately not available en primeur.

The third Premier Cru in Pauillac, Château Latour, presented a rare and impressive variety of wines. Togehter with the three wines Pauillac, Les Forts de Latour and the Grand Vin they always show old vintages that are now ready to be sold. Please find more details in our description to Latour. We can just say this: the 2015 was fabulous even against its big opponent, the vintage of 2000. A picture-perfect Latour with power, great fruit and incredible finesse until a perfect finish without any weakness. This wine is definitely among the best three wines in the Médoc in 2015. Keeping up with this quality is not easy and that made it hard for Pichon Lalande, Pichon Baron and Las Cases. The beautiful Ducru Beaucaillou is closer to this outstanding quality. The second rated Château from Saint-Julien is experiencing an upswing and was able to archieve 100 Parker points in 2009. This wine also comines power, fruit and elegance with a wonderful balance and a long finish – for sure one of the greates vintages of Ducru.

The new vatroom of Château Margaux designed by architect Sir Norman Foster is operative since 2015.

Last but not least is the appelation of Margaux. On Château Margaux the Primeur week was clouded by the death of their Director Paul Pontailler, who was buried just two days before. This wine was still under his control and it is very fine, complex and incredibly long. We are just missing the special touch that makes this wine unforgettable. And even Château Margaux has a neighbor and big opponent: Château Palmer. Palmer has proved for years that they are able to magicaly make a beautiful wine despite all other factors. This masterpiece worked again in 2015: it was the only wine in Médoc we experienced that left us with amazement. What a sexy Bordeaux wine on highest level – chapeau! The team from Château Palmer knows exactely what they have accomplised, they are all smiles. A fabulous vintage that will be among many other prestigious vintages.

In the Médoc the vintage of 2015 was very heterogenous. In a classic Merlot year the Cabernet Sauvignon is always having a hard time. But on a few spots where the Cabernet was able to ripen and was harvested in time, the quality was outstanding. Knowing which wines are the good ones is the trick behind it. There is just one advantage when the options on the auctions are little – one can save some money by not buying the left bank and saving it for the right.

Graves and Right Bank (Pomerol, St. Emilion)

The right bank was much less heterogeneous. Rarely had they seen a vintage with an outstanding quality of both grapes, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc showed very nicely. Some winemakers even say this is a once in a lifetime situation. An excellent vintage with wines that are similar to the ones in 2010. It is very likely that several wines will have 100 points. Best chances are with Haut Brion / La Mission Haut Brion, which are located on the border between Pomerol and St. Emilion.

Smith-Haut-Lafitte celebrating 650 years since founding of the winery and 25 years ownership of the Cathiard family with a special designed label in black.

Lets start this list with three wines from Pessac Léognan (Graves), a region that we will count to the right bank since they were not hit by the devastating rain. Apart from the mesmerizing and powerful Smith Haute Lafite we were in awe of the aromatic wines of Haut Brion / La Mission Haut Brion. Both wines are simply perfect, fine, complex and without a single edge. When concentration, power and silk comes together, this is the result. The biggest problem at the moment: do we prefer the weightless Haut Brion or the more power-driven La Mission with more structure? We will take a case of both.

The tastings on the right bank were pure joy, the producers have never been happier. We were welcomed with the sentence ‘we have ordered this weather for the next 10 years' at Château Figeac. This being the best vintage they have ever made was something we heard more often, and it was the same at Figeac. Even the quality of the second wines was surprising, the fact that Cheval Blanc didn't even launch one this year says it all. The quality of wines was extraordinary, and we experienced no failure among all the wines we tasted.

Ausone presented the most extraordinary wine this year. The typical high ratio of Cabernet Franc led to very intense, ripe and black fruit flavors. This is what you would expect of a wine that grew during a hot summer. The wine is struggling to keep the balance after such a strong beginning. The finish is filled with smooth tannins that cannot compete with the powerful fruit. Truly a fruit monster in the style of an Amarone – but a Bordeaux? Their second wine Chapelle d`Ausone was much lighter and therefore more charming to us.

Another runaway, but in a good way was Château Figeac. Figeac grapes grow on gravel and is a bit different compared to its neighbors due to the high amount of Cabernet Sauvignon at the border of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. They are now working with Michel Rolland and presented a phenomenal wine: the grand vin Figeax and a great second wine, Petit-Figeac. Figeac is the proof that even the Cabernet Sauvignon was amazing in 2015 - as long as it wasn`t hit by the severe rain. The wine has a high level of fruit intensity and is complex with several layers of aromas and soft tannins which are playing on the palate. The finish is long, impressive and in perfect balance. One of the biggest Figeac vintages, without a doubt. Just as stunning was Château L`Evangile,which is not far away from Figeac, but already in the area of Pomerol. A wine with a fascinating balance without a lack of structure or fruit. The winemaker is all smiles but doesn`t want to agree that their sister Château Lafite did not reach the same high level this year. But we are allowed to say it and we will.

As always among the top wines: Château Cheval Blanc. However, they didn`t make it on the podium this year.

On the other side of the street and back in Saint-Emilion is Cheval Blanc. The crowd is a little smaller than last year and despite all finesse the wine cannot keep up with last years quality. But this just shows on which high level these wines are, then even the 2015 is a fine wine with power and a mesmerizing complexity. This wine is just done perfectly. There are not a lot of other teams that can really compete with Pierre Lurton and his team in terms of quality and perfection.

Not far away from Cheval Blanc and back in Pomerol you will find the famous Château Lafleur. For the first time they invited more visitors, but what does that mean? Not even Pétrus is more exclusive, just Le Pin is able to compete, but they skipped the Primeur week this year. At Lafleur they are also speaking of one of the best vintages ever made. Describing Lafleur is not easy since we are now talking about another world of winemaking. This wine is so delicate, fruity, light and powerful at the same time, words would not due it justice. It has the lightness of a Burgundy wine and the power of a Bordeaux. Who thinks of this wine as too expensive, try the wonderful Pensées de Lafleur, an independent wine from another plot of their winery. Our Pomerol retrospective would be incomplete without Vieux-Château-Certan. Alexandre Thienpont greets his guest at a simple wooden table in the wine cellar with a big smile. The best vitage ever? Could be. The wine we taste comes from half a bottle without label, but the understatement is over as soon as this wine meets with your tasting nerves. A masterpiece with elegance and without a single edge from the first nose to the finish minutes after - obviously the result of a perfectionist. While the vintage of 2014 was beautiful as well, this wine has the last kick of flavor that makes it absolutely irresistible. You cannot spit this wine – just impossible. Devotion and desperation – how will we be able to buy this wine and how much will it cost? The VCC is on par with Haut Brion / La Mission Haut Brion and is only excelled by one other wine in Saint-Emilion. And this is truly an emotional decision.

A Bordeaux with the style of a Burgundy: Château Lafleur

The way to our wine of the vintage 2015 leeds us back to Saint-Emilion. Coming from Pomerol we are passing a chalk plateau and a small town on the right side, then driving up to the highest part of the gravel hill above the Pavie Chateaus, the so called Cà´te Pavie. Troplong-Mondot is located on this highest point, one of the most underrated Châteaus in Saint-Emilion. The 2015 vintage of Troplong-Mondot is once again a dark purple, powerful and bold wine. Not like marmalade, due to its powerful structure the balance is perfect. A dreamy Bordeaux and a perfect match to a steak, a masculine wine for sure. Behinde the watertower of Troplong-Mondot we kept driving along the Cà´te Pavie in the direction of Tertre Roteboeuf, the winery of winemaker and magician François Mitjavile.

We are greeted by his daughter Nina, who has been leading the Château with him for ten years. It is their tradition, that during the tastings the wine comes directly from the barrel, so we are standing in the wine cellar. With a dropping glass in her hands she asks us which barrel we would like to taste. Transparency couldn`t be greater, there is nothing hidden or pre-selected in this Châteaux. Even during she pours the wine into the glass the room is filled with a wonderful aroma. A purple-colored wine, red and black berries, wild berries, raspberry and a touch of strawberry are everywhere. Once tasted this wines explodes with a sensational variety of aromas and an incredible freshness and balance that seems to take minutes. Is this made from this vintage? From this world? We met a lady next to us who is a Master of Wine and she says quietly: “this is not something you can taste everyday”. This wine that spreads such huge emotions in us will remain our wine of the vintage.

Our wine of the vintage 2015: Château Tertre Roteboeuf

March, 29th, 2016

One week before the actual Primeur week began the first opinions on the vintage appeared. It was a shock that Paul Pontallier, the director of Château Margaux, had passed away. He was with the Château for over 30 years (20 years as the Director) and was significantly responsible for the turnaround in the 1980ies. With him the Château became benchmark in winemaking in Bordeaux. The highlights of his career were certainly the outstanding vintage of 2010, maybe the best wine he ever made, and the renovation of the cellars at Margaux with the world-famous architect Sir Norman Forster in 2014. It was an unforgettable career of an impressive person, who wrote history in Bordeaux.

Another news topic was the launch of the old vintages at Château Latour. They will present the Grand Vin of 2000 and the Les Forts de Latour 2009 in order to sell the stock from their cellars. The ex-negotiant price of the Latour 2000 was around 770 Euro net, around three times as high as the release price a couple of years ago and higher than the current price on auctions. Both wines were rated incredibly high and everyone will arrive with great expectations - definitely a highlight of the Primeur week. Another interesting information was the fact that Cheval Blanc will not present their second wine Petit Cheval. The quality of the harvest was so good that only 9% of the grapes would have been used for it – and that was not enough for a release.

It becomes obvious that the biggest topic will the exact date of the harvest and whether the Châteaux were effected by the rain or not. Especially the rain in the norther Médoc on October 3rd and 4th made it difficult for many wineries to collect their perfect grapes. Bad luck for Pauillac and St. Estèphe.

February 2016

In the first week of April the Primeur week will be held in Bordeaux in order for the press and buyers to taste the vintage of 2015. People mingle that it was quite a good vintage, and we will collect all information here. One Château has already declared that it will not participate on the Primeur week: Château Le Pin! According to their press release the fermentation is not yet finished and it is impossible for them to present their wine – it would be too far away from the actual blend. Respect – but so sad.

Event locations this year:

- Château Malartic-Lagravière : Graves & Pessac-Légnan
- Château La Couspaude : Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
- Château Beauregard : Pomerol
- Château Citran : Médoc, Haut Médoc, Moulis & Listrac
- Château Du Tertre : Margaux
- Château Gruaud Larose : Saint-Julien