I will be honest with you guys: I haven’t been too excited with this year’s En Primeur 2015 as I’ve been so busy lately I had no time to think about the preparation for the Bordeaux most famous wine event. Until Monday I didn’t even care about printing the invitations for all of the 2015 tastings!
Today is Saturday, a day after all the tastings have been finished, and finally I have some time to sit down and review my En Primeur 2015 notes ;)
In general the 2015 vintage is very ‘uneven’ – wines are better and worse, some are fruity and elegant while others very oaky and overpowering with tannins. I’ve tried a few hundred wines and I admit I feel tired ;)
But, as always, it has been a great experience and an extraordinary journey through all the Bordeaux appellations and wines representing the 2015 vintage.
I got a few wines that were reduced or oxidized and I imagine I would have different opinion if the samples were better. However, such as a wheel of fortune, you are lucky (or not) with the wines you try so… anything may happen during the tasting ;)
Some of the wines I’ve tasted more than once in different chateaux during different events and I’ve realized that in one place I loved the particular wine while in the other I disliked it. It all really depends on the samples!
The events are listed as I’ve visited them each day, while the wines I’ve tasted during each event are listed in alphabetical order.
En Primeur 2015 – day 1, Monday 20160404
I’ve opened the big Bordeaux tasting week with a few different tastings in Saint Emilion, the area I live in. The weather was weird, rainy and sunny, windy and calm; typical April weather in Aquitaine ;) As it was the first En Primeur 2015 tasting day of the week, there were not many people present in the chateaux. Great moment to enjoy the wine!
(1) Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux tasting took place in Chateau Larose in Saint Emilion.
Grand Cercle has presented wines from Bordeaux region – from smaller and not very well known producers and appellations to Grand Cru Classe.
There were two different ways of tasting – tables with all the wines to taste on your own or tables where wine producers were pouring the wine and you could talk to them, ask questions and find out more about the vintage and wines.
I’ve tasted several dozens of wines and chose a few I really loved:
- Chateau Bourgneuf Pomerol 2015 Famille Vayron (red)– fresh and fruity, well-balanced and finesse;
- Chateau La Garde Pessac-Leognan 2015 Vignobles Dourthe (white)– very fresh and light with fruity aromas and elegant palate;
- Chateau Hostens-Picant Sainte-Foy Bordeaux AOC 2015 Yves et Nadine Hostens-Picant (white) – lovely bouquet full of fruits with rich, oaky and harmonious palate;
- Chateau de Pressac Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 Jean-Francois Quenin (red) – ripe fruits, complex, silky and sensuous;
- Chateau Thieuley Bordeaux 2015 Marie et Sylvie Courselle (white) – fresh, rich and well-structured;
(2) Rolland Collection, Les Cles de Chateaux Degustation Primeurs Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2016 edition 6
The event took place in beautiful Chateau la Dominique in Saint Emilion and the wines were not only French 2015 primeurs but also there were many wines from other countries from different vintages; Michel Rolland and his team are the wine consultants to all of the producers of all of the wines that were presented during the event.
There were many wines to try with each table presenting different appellation. Michel Rolland was available to talk and everybody could take a picture with him (everybody did, apart from me as I am not a ‘selfie-with-a-celebrity’ type of person :p)
I have tasted more than thirty wines there. My top ones were:
- Bodega Diamandes 2009 Diamandes de Uco Argentina Rolland Collection (red) – black very ripe fruits, oaky notes, rich body, solid structure, harmonious and long finish;
- Chateau Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol 2015 Rolland Collection (red) – full and intense with ripe fruits and distinct oak notes;
- Chateau Clos de Sarpe Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – for me the best wine from all of the presented during this event – very rich, full, beautifully balanced with round structure; ripe and sweet-alike black fruits, smooth and rounded tannins, generous oaky finish;
- Chateau Faugeres Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – very rich, complex and long, well-balanced with ripe fruits and ripe tannins;
- Saint Supery Rutherford Napa Valley 2013 (red) – complex, fruity with intense aroma and well-balanced, rich palate;
(3) Hubert-de-Bouard 2015 Bordeaux En Primeur tastings
The event took place in Chateau Angelus in Saint Emilion. Such as during the previous years, the ambience was very intimate with not many people present while I arrived. What a great opportunity to celebrate this beautiful chateau! Apart from En Primeurs 2015 wines, there were also few wines from other countries available for tasting.
- Chateau Angelus Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A 2015 (red) – full bodied, powerful and complex with fruits, intense oaky notes and big integrated tannins;
- Chateau Clos de Jacobins Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2015 (red) – intensive ripe and sweet black fruits aroma, harmonious, complex and well-structured with soft tannins and long, rich finish;
- Chateau Jean Faure Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2015 (red) – very ripe black fruits, powerful aroma, well-balanced palate with concentrated fruit notes, a hint of spices and rounded tannins;
(4) Bordeaux Union des Syndicats de Saint Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac
The event took place in Salle des Dominicains in the heart of the town of Saint Emilion. It was my last place to visit with too many wines to taste, as my palate was already quite tired and I was dreaming about taking off my high heels ;)
I loved the place; I admired the floors, the walls and the massive stained glass windows! There were not many people in the Salle and some of the wines seemed to be open a bit too long. I have tasted several dozens of wines. I had no idea some of them existed, while others were the ones I know very well or wines that have been made by people I know.
My TopThree were:
- Chateau Moulin Haut Villars Fronsac 2015 (red) – very well-balanced, fresh and fruity with soft palate;
- Chateau du Moulin Noir Lussac-Saitn Emilion 2015 (red) – solid structure and full body, strong and concentrated aroma, fruit notes with some spices and smooth tannins;
- Chateau de Pressac Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – once again this day I chose Pressac as one of my favourites for its great balance, concentrated fruit aromas, hint of elegance, a very smooth and finesse wine;
We have finished the day over a glass of Bordeaux bubbles in the restaurant in the heart of the town of Saint Emilion and went back home for great homemade dinner.
En Primeur 2015 – day 2 – Tuesday 20160405
We started very early, about 6:30, as it’s quite far to Medoc and we have scheduled a lot for the day; it was the first day of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings. I remember the day as multilingual one as in every single chateau people were speaking to me in different languages… in Lafon-Rochet they thought I am from Russia, in Gruaud Larose they thought I am from Germany, I was English in du Tertre and French in La Lagune (which is quite obvious, as it has been French event, at the same time lady was very surprised I am not French).
(1) Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Saint Estephe and Pauillac tastings took place in Chateau Lafon-Rochet in Saint Estephe.
I’ve been there few times and this year I found it very crowded. As during previous years I met there my dear friend, Alex Rychlewski (the author of the Bordeaux blog), we spend some time on talking and tasting primeurs.
Although I enjoyed the tasting, I found wines from Pauillac and Saint Estephe not perrfectly balanced – a bit overpowered by acidity with not strong density of fruits (comparing to what one may expect from these subregions) which might be not enough to keep the wine in perfect condition for many years.
I chose three best ones for me:
- Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse Cru Classe Pauillac 2015 (red) – full body, intense notes of black ripe fruits with black currant acidity; big tannins, rich and mouthfulling wine with long oaky finish;
- Chateau Phelan-Segur Saint Estephe 2015 (red) – solid structure with full body and lively acidity; lots of fruits, round and balanced tannins and lingering, long finish;
- Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Grand Cru Classe Pauillac 2015 (red) –
(2) Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Saint Julien tasting took place in Chateau Gruaud Larose in Saint Julien.
Firstly, I adored all of the wines – great balance, pleasant texture, lots of oaky flavours along with great density of fruits; secondly, I adored the chateau – I’ve been here for the first time and I loved the short walk in the property; thirdly – I adored the lunch in the chateau, which was definitely the best one during this year’s En Primeur. The best wine being served during the lunch was Chateau Gruaud Larose 2011 – what an extraordinary taste!
As I wrote, all of the wines were amazing and I’d like to write a short note for each of them:
- Chateau Beychevelle Saint Julien 2015 (red) – my favourite one! Great balance, lots of fruits with spicy and oaky notes; very rich, complex and long;
- Chateau Branaire-Ducru Saint Julien 2015 (red) – slightly lighter and more elegant on the palate with great fruit flavours and quite high acidity;
- Chateau Gloria Saint Julien 2015 (red) – beautifully balanced with black fruits, acidity and smooth tannins; full bodied and long with a nice spicy note on the finish;
- Chateau Gruaud Larose Saint Julien 2015 (red) – full-bodied, harmonious and complex; intense black fruits flavours with black currant acidity, silky tannins and nice oaky notes;
- Chateau Lagrange Saint Julien 2015 (red) – very high level of acidity with red and black fruits, delicate oaky flavours and long finish;
- Chateau Langoa Barton Saint Julien 2015 (red) – another example of sharp acidity and strong black and red currant notes; a bit more elegant with solid finish;
- Chateau Leoville Barton Saint Julien 2015 (red) – powerful fruit flavours (mostly red and black currants and black cherries) with crisp acidity, velvety consistency and silky tannins;
- Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien 2015 (red) – another favourite one; intense harmonious aromas, full and rich body, solid structure and big rounded tannins; lots of black fruits with generous oaky finish; can’t wait to taste it again!
- Chateau Saint-Pierre Saint Julien 2015 (red) – delicate fruity and oaky aromas with black and red currant flavours, balanced tannins and black pepper on the finish;
- Chateau Talbot Saint Julien 2015 (red) – very long wine with delicate bouquet, strong black currant aftertaste, great structure and silky tannins;
(3) Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Margaux tasting took place in Chateau du Tertre in Margaux.
I found the wines in general being inconsistent- some are very acidic and light while others very oaky and overpowering although they have much better balance than those from Pauillac and Saint Estephe.
- Chateau Labegorce Margaux 2015 (red) – full bodied, very well-balanced, rich and elegant; intense fruit flavours, strong oak notes, nice lively acidity and big rounded tannins; very long and beautiful wine;
- Chateau Marquis du Terme Margaux Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – rich, complex, harmonious and concentrated with intense black fruit aromas, powerful oak notes and spices on a long, black cherry finish;
(4) Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Sauternes and Barsac Millesime 2015 tasting took place, as previously, in Chateau La Lagune in Haut-Medoc.
I’ve been a bit disappointed with botrytis wines from 2015 as I love them, I drink a lot of them and I didn’t find them interesting this time. Although the weather was great in 2015, I think it might be a bit too hot for those wines.
I’ve been following the vintage reports during the whole year, I’ve interview a few people from the sub region and the opinions from a few months ago differ a lot from what I’ve read in the UGCB brochure:
“The wines are dense but taut, particularly classy, marked by clean and pure botrytis which brings very good aromatic definition and sweetness of great elegance supported by a delicate liveliness”.
In my opinion 2015 wines were inharmonious, very luscious and lack of typical botrytis notes; they could have more acidity, as the aftertaste was too viscous and a bit cloying. Maybe I had a very bad luck and all of my samples were bad… ?
I don’t have favourites from 2015 vintage, but I’d like to list three producers whose wines I found quite classy and balanced:
- Chateau Filhot Grand Cru Classe Sauternes 2015 (white) – flowers, acacia honey, iodine, great balance between sweetness and acidity;
- Chateau Guiraud Premier Cru Classe Sauternes 2015 (white) – well-balanced, elegant and rich with white peach, lime and quince notes;
- Chateau La Tour Blanche Premier Cru Classe 2015 (white) – intense notes of flowers, honey, acacia with a delicate hint of lime; a bit unbalanced (needs more acidity) although still very concentrated and great wine;
I’ve come back home about 7pm, luckily avoiding the big traffic jam in Bordeaux ;) it’s been very satisfying day with many great wines.
En Primeur 2015 – day 3 – Wednesday 20160406
As yesterday I’ve been ‘on the other side of the world’, today I’ve decided to stay ‘nearby home’ and visit Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings in my area. As those were only two UGCB tastings, I also scheduled the Cotes de Castillon and biodynamic tastings to provide diversity for my palate.
It is obvious that wines from Right Bank are made mostly from Merlot, although I’ve been surprised when I found out from the producers, that for 2015 vintage ‘the majority of Merlot’ means 80-90% of this grape variety in the blend. That’s a lot comparing to the previous years.
I don’t mind the ‘merlot-ish vintage’ nor ‘not classical Saint Emilion vintage’ as long as I enjoy the wine ;)
(1) I’ve started quite late, about 11 am, and went straight to Chateau Beauregard in Pomerol for Union Des Grands Crus Pomerol tasting.
The chateau was beautiful, although many people were a bit confused how to get in as it wasn’t obvious. It was nice and sunny, and my palate was ready for another dose of wines to taste.
Pomerol wines from 2015 vintage were very good, nicely balanced and fruity with rounded tannins in most cases. My TopThree were:
- Chateau Beauregard Pomerol 2015 (red) – the best of all; very-well balanced, rich, complex and layered with full body, powerful fruit flavours and intense oaky notes on the long, generous finish;
- Chateau Petit-Village Pomerol 2015 (red) – high acidity well-balanced with fruits, round and elegant structure, long finish with red and black currant notes and delicate spices;
- Chateau La Point Pomerol 2015 (red) – very delicate aromas, great fruity palate with bitter spices, silky tannins, round structure and persistent, long, fruity finish;
(2) Next stop: Union Des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Saint Emilion.
The tasting took place in Chateau la Couspaude in Saint Emilion. There were definitely too many people in there and I found the tasting being less pleasant than in any other places, but the property was beautiful.
Wines, in general, presents not very classic vintage with Languedoc-Roussilon-like ripe fruit flavours. I fell in love with a few of them:
- Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – fruity aromas of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries; very ripe black fruits on the palate, lively acidity, rich body and long finish;
- Chateau Berliquet Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2015 (red) – another Roussillon-like bouquet with very ripe black fruits with a sweet blueberry note, integrated and well-balanced acidity, round and velvety tannins, generous and long finish;
- Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – fresh and fruity aromas, smooth and silky with perfectly integrated tannins, long finish and concentrated fruit flavours; beautifully harmonious!
- Chateau Grand Mayne Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – stole my heart with its Maury-wine-like aromas; as you know I love Maury wines, so I found this wine very interesting; round structure, silky tannins, powerful fruit flavours and spices on a long finish;
- Chateau Soutard Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – another Maury-like aromas; very ripe fruits balanced with high acidity, soft tannins and elegant body;
- Chateau Troplong Mondot Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe 2015 (red) – concentrated, rich and complex, silky and balanced tannins, rich body and nice spicy note on the long finish;
(3) Cotes de Castillon En Primeurs 2015 tasting took place in Chateau Ambe Tour Pourret in Saint Emilion.
I found it extraordinary that there were almost no promotion of Cotes de Castillon wines – nowhere!
I live nearby and I know many of the wines very well and I cannot believe they don’t even try to get out of the shadow of Saint Emilion wines. I am not saying they are better, but many of these wines offer excellent value for money and taste amazing!
It’s sad to see so many producers don’t even bother to build the image of Cotes de Castillon wines being great quality wines that could compete with cheaper Saint Emilion ones.
I’ve tasted about 20-30 wines from 2015 vintage and some older vintages, and, not surprisingly, I have several favourite ones:
- Chateau de Belcier Cotes de Castillon 2015 (red) – ripe and well balanced, concentrated and rich with intense oak notes;
- Chateau de Loussac Cuvee Sacha Cotes de Castillon 2015 (red) – very well-balanced with lots of ripe fruit flavours, rich body and distinct note of spices on long finish;
- Le Pin de Belcier Castillon 2015 (red) – beautifully smells of new oak! Full of ripe fruits, round tannins, rich and complex with oaky notes on the generous finish;
- Chateau La Rose Poncet Cotes de Castillon 2015 (red) – very ripe, rich, concentrated fruit flavours; rounded and integrated tannins, full body and medium finish with a hint of spices;
- Cuvee Sacha 2012 Chateau de Laussac (red) – magnificent! Great balance between ripe fruits, smooth tannins, zesty acidity and oaky notes; intense blueberry and delicate spices on the finish;
- Chateau Hyot 2014 (red) – plums, blueberries and blackberries, delicate oaky notes; beautifully balanced with medium-full body, smooth tannins and long finish;
(4) Biodyvin – The Syndicat des Vignerons en Coulture Bio-Dynamique tasting took place in Chateau Fonroque in Saint Emilion.
I am not the greatest fan of bio wines as very often I enjoy neither the aroma nor the taste. But my tasting partners wanted to go to the bio tasting so I followed them. I wasn’t expecting that many people; it was quite difficult to get to any of the producers and some of the wines and it surprised me a lot!
I found three wines which I totally fell in love with!
- Domaine Alphonse Mellot Edmond Sancerre 2014 (white) – what a magnificent bouquet! Lots of white stone fruits and a delicate note of capsicum (green pepper); very rich, complex and concentrated wine, although elegant, with long persistent finish;
- Domaine Alphonse Mellot Generation Dix-Neuf Pinot Noir Sancerre 2014 (red) – very fresh and fruity Pinot Noir, quite light in the mouth but very long and elegant;
- Chateau Fonroque Bordeaux 2015 (red) – very well-balanced with pure fruit flavours, lively acidity, delicate spice notes and a hint of bubblegum;
I survived another day of tastings and I had to admit I felt tired. Starting in the morning, getting through so many tastings and finishing with the dinner at night… good news was it had been already the middle of the week ;) Bad news was – I’ll have to wait a whole year for another ‘too many wines’ experience. Conclusion: let’s enjoy the moment :D
En Primeur 2015 – day 4 – Thursday 20160407
The last of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings: wines from Pessac Leognan and Graves. The event took place in Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere in Pessac-Leognan, a beautiful property that I’ve visited before; after those years I still find it difficult to walk on their driveway in high heels ;)
I adored the wines! I found whites being rich, concentrated and still very fresh, and reds – very aromatic, well-balanced and complex. I loved almost all of them, but I chose TopTen best of the best:
- Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion Grand Vin de Graves Pessac Leognan 2015 (rouge) – superb! Intense and rich bouquet, full and complex palate with lots of fruits, oaky notes and bitter spices on a long finish;
- Chateau de Chantegrive Graves 2015 (blanc) – very rich and complex with nice acidity, lots of fruits and a note of spices;
- Chateau de Fieuzal Pessac-Leognan 2015 (red) – very elegant, quite light and long with black and red fruit flavours, soft tannins and long spicy finish;
- Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan 2015 (red) – rich and powerful with big, rounded tannins, lots of oaky flavours and ripe black fruits;
- Chateau Latour-Martillac Grand Cru Classe de Graves Pessac – Leognan 2015 (white) – high acidity well-balanced with fruit notes, mostly lime, quince and white peach; very fresh wine with long finish;
- Chateau La Louviere Grand Vin de Bordeaux Pessac-Leognan 2015 (red) – very fresh and fruity with full body, big but silky tannins, black fruits and liquorice on the finish;
- Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Grand Cru Classe de Graves Pessac – Leognan 2015 (white) – lighter than previous vintages, very fresh and creamy, harmonious with lime and white peach on the lingering, generous finish;
- Chateau Pape Clement Grand Cru Classe Graves Pessac – Leognan 2015 (white) – very mineral and fresh, full, rich and long with intense note of white peach;
- Chateau Picque Caillou Grand Vin de Graves Pessac leognan 2015 (red) – well-balanced, rich and concentrated with big, rounded tannins and nice black fruit note on the finish;
- Chateau Rahoul Graves 2015 (rouge) – full and rich with intense ripe fruit flavours, bitter spices, liquorice and a hint of chocolate;
The wines were really great; however, I was surprised that there was no lunch in the chateau. We found a nice small restaurant nearby and had a lovely lunch accompanied by a bottle of Chateau La Garde Pessac – Leognan 2010.
En Primeur 2015 – day 5 – Friday 20160408
Last day of tastings, however today I had the final tasting in my house with friends. We wanted to extend a bit the En Primeurs week and decided to spend some money to buy older vintages of wines from the area. What a nice finish of the En Primeurs 2015 week!
- Moulin St Georges Saint Emilion 2013 (33€) – well-balanced wine with deep fruit flavours and a note of spices;
- Chateau Fongaban Cotes de Castillon 2011 (6€) – balanced, fruity with some nice oaky notes, not very complex but amazing value for the price;
- La Croix Beaucaillou 2ème Cru Classé Saint-Julien 2011 (red, 38€) – rich, harmonious and complex with rounded, integrated tannins, and great balance between fruit and oaky notes;
- Chateau Beauregard Pomerol 2011 (red, 36€) – harmonious, elegant and beautifully balanced; nice long finish with some spices and oaky notes;
- Chateau Seguin Pessac Leognan 2011 (red, 22€) – nice, complex and round with medium, fruity finish;
- Chateau Gazin Blanc Roquencourt (white, 21€) – fresh, but rich and creamy; white stone fruits with a hint of lime, nice acidity and long finish;
En Primeurs 2016
In about a year a ‘new vintage tasting’ will take place in Bordeaux. I am not sure whether I will be in France or travelling somewhere in the South Hemisphere. At the moment I focus on the Vintage 2016; I observe the vineyards and participate in a day to day life of the 2016 Vintage which has started to coming back to life during the events of En Primeur 2015 ;)