Arriving at the neighbouring commune of Pauillac, we had the first of our group tastings. This year the Pauillac and St Estephe wines are showcased at Batailley, which is inland from the glorious Chateau of Pichon Baron. Here we tasted – Phelan Segur, Lafon Rochet, Cos Labory, Ormes de Pez, Pichon Baron, Pichon Comtesse, Lynch Bages, Grand Puy Lacoste, Clerc Milon, Armailhac and Batailley amongst others. It was a great opportunity to get a feel for a region by tasting them all together. There are certainly very high achievers in the group whilst others we tasted, did not make it to the list above. We also stopped here for a wonderful buffet lunch with Chateau Batailley 2010 in the glass.
Pontet Canet was our next visit. Alfred Tesseron is certainly producing exceptional wines in recent years. Completely focusing on biodynamics and now organic practices; he is constantly fine tuning his techniques in order to produce the best. In 2016, he has produced the best. As part of our tasting notes we describe it as “finesse and elegance masking a powerhouse of a very, concentrated, structured and well balanced wine”. It has a perfect score!”
Our next visit was across the road to Mouton Rothschild.
"On the birth of my first child , I purchased a Mouton Rothschild wine label to mark the year of the birth. I might have to put an end to this practice as, four children later, I am running out of wall space to hang the labels!" ..... Donal
We boarded the customary mode of transport - golf carts - and were driven through the estate to the tasting room. This is always a great tasting. We evaluate the wines of Armailhac, Clerc Milon, Petit Mouton, Mouton Rothschild and Aile D’Argent – Mouton’s glorious white wine. All of the wines here are excellent.
Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse
Our next stop of the day is Pichon Longueville Comtesse where Ingrid greeted us to show the estates Reserve de Pichon Comtesse and Grand Vin, Pichon Comtesse. We were well impressed with the texture and elegance of this wine, it seems to improve year on year.
Our 2nd group tasting of the day was in Chateau Kirwan when we tasted the wines from the Margaux appellation. Here we saw a few different styles emerging:
- we enjoyed Malescot St Exupery, Rauzan Segla and Giscours (Rich / Full Bodied)
- we enjoyed Kirwan, Brane Cantenac and Du Tertre (Medium Bodied / Elegant)
- we enjoyed Angludet; which is almost Burgundian in its style (Elegance / Finesse)
For us, the wine that wins first prize for “Expression of Terroir” is D’Issan. A short drive away from Kirwan, it is a moated Chateau whose vineyard is completely surrounded by a wall. The 2016 D’Issan is pure elegance and charm. It is intensely flavoured and retains its Margeaux style.
We finish the day at Chateau Margaux, For the first time in a decade, none of the 3 wines tasted here exceed 13% of alcohol. The Pavillon Rouge is sublime and is worthy of a place amongst the finest wines of Margaux. The quality is such with Pavillon Rouge these days that it would sit amongst older vintages of Margaux with ease.
Chateau Margaux is full bodied and savoury, made up of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux has high levels of acidity, more richness than normal, mineral and fruity. To strive and make the best wine possible, only 33% of the white harvest made it into Pavillon Blanc.
Just Another Day at the Office.
The very next day, we started at 7:30 am, again, and headed to Lafite Rothschild for our 9:30 am appointment. The tasting room has changed here in the last year. They have moved us to a beautifully decorated, bright room overlooking a neighbouring vineyard, Cos D’Estounel on the brow of the hill in St Estephe.
Duhart Milon was the first taste of the day, and a very nice way to start. Duhart Milon continues to improve every year, this years in concentrated, velvety textured with lovely tannins. Carruades de Lafite is very fragrant and well structured. The star of the show – Lafite Rothschild is immense with a layered palate and great concentration. Plenty of power, finesse and style. Our highest scoring 1st growth after receiving a perfect score.