This morning the powerhouse Cheval Blanc has released at £6,400 per case of 12, or £3,200 per case of six. This marks a 2% euro increase on last year, it could barely support more, last year’s release was perceived as rather expensive – however, a chateau guide price translates as a 23% sterling increase. There will be deals to be done here if one but asks. However, in 2016 Cheval Blanc have made an exceptional vintage, one of the ages scoring 97-99 from Neal Martin and 98-99 from James Suckling. No doubt it is one of the finest vintages of Cheval Blanc, however, the price seems overcooked when one turns an eye to the 100-point scoring 2005 which trades at less.
Cheval Blanc is one of the two original Grands Crus Classes A of St. Emilion and one of the greatest wines of the Right Bank. In 1998 it was purchased by the Chairman of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy and owner of Chateau d’Yquem, Bernard Arnault and a Belgian businessman, Albert Frère. Pierre Lurton was appointed as Estate manager and under his considerable talent the Estate has continued to flourish.
The Estate is situated near Pétrus and even encroaches into the Pomerol commune. The vineyard has three distinct soil types: gravel, clay and sand, giving Cheval Blanc’s terroir the distinction of having the best characteristics of Pomerol, Graves and its native Saint-Emilion. Cheval Blanc is blended using a preponderance of Cabernet Franc over Merlot and this leads to a distinct freshness with high concentrations of fruit and a rich, enveloping bouquet.
Cheval Blanc 2016, 12×75 – £6,400 EP or 6×75 – £3,200 EP
96-98 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 59% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and (the return of) 3% Cabernet Sauvignon from the gravel soils since in this vintage the vines showed absolutely no stress. It delivers 14.25% alcohol with an IPT of 75 and a pH 3.67, which Pierre Lurton told me is a little lower than normal. As usual, it is matured in 100% new oak. It has a very pure, correct and quite penetrating bouquet with black cherries, blackcurrant, graphite and a touch of wild mint. It is bashful at first but opens with confidence with aeration (incidentally, I allowed my sample 40 minutes to open). The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin and a killer line of acidity that imparts so much freshness from the starting gun. That soupçon on Cabernet Sauvignon does make a difference, lending a subtle vein of graphite that runs throughout the wine. It remains linear, with laser-like focus towards the extraordinarily persistent finish, pencil lead on the “HB” aftertaste. This is a classic and intellectual Cheval Blanc, not as charming perhaps as the 2015 Cheval Blanc, but it will unquestionably age gracefully over decades not years.
98-99 Points, James Suckling
This is very powerful Cheval with searing tannins and bright fruit, acidity and mineral undertones. Full and muscular yet beautifully formed and polished. It’s all about the form to this. Better than 2015.
Chateau Giscours has released this morning for £540 per case of 12, or £270 per case of six. Following the staggering 2015, in 2016 they have continued the run of form with another truly exceptional vintage. It has been awarded 93-95 points from Neal Martin and 96-97 from James Suckling who asks, ‘Better than the 2015?’ – One would hope so, it is more expensive. This is a truly great Giscours which will surely be awarded 95 points from bottle, which for £45 is contextually superb. Moreover, the 92 point scoring 2005 trades at £720! One may posit the 40% sterling increase is a little aggressive, but then who knows the mind of a chateau owner.
Located in the Margaux appellation, in the communes of Labarde and Arsac, it is here that the terroir works in favour for Giscours presenting all the required qualities to produce excellent wine. One of the key features of this Estate is the three magnificent gravel hilltops, deposited by the Garonne at the beginning the Quaternary. The property consists of 90 hectares of vines, spread out over several plots. Of the Grand Vin, Chateau Giscours, there is annual production of 25,000 cases.
Giscours 2016, 12×75 – £540 EP or 6×75 – £270 EP
93-95 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Giscours is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Merlot, the highest percentage of Cabernet in recent years, picked between 26 September and 20 October. It was cropped at 45 hectoliters per hectare with 13.2% alcohol, which is a little less than in 2015. Naturally that dominant proportion of Cabernet drives the aromatics with blackberry, cedar and graphite aromas. The palate is very well structured, more masculine than the 2015 and maybe without quite the same level of precision, but there is great density and length to this Giscours. I found that improved in the glass, gaining more energy from the ether. It is an impressive follow-up to last year’s Giscours.
96-97 Points, James Suckling
This is extremely long and linear with a powerful and refined texture of superfine tannins. Full-bodied, yet so tight and polished. The finish is very, very impressive. Snaps at the end. Better than the 2015?
This morning Malartic Lagraviere has released for £490 per case of 12, or £245 per case of six. This represents a 21% euro increase, translating as a 40% sterling increase. In 2016 Malartic Lagraviere has made another staggeringly good wine which along with the 2015 and 2005 will be its finest ever: the latter trades at £540. Neal Martin has awarded it 94-96 points and James Suckling 96-97, giving it a Wine Advocate Price Over Points Score (POP) of 33, which by comparison to other leading Bordeaux offers a great deal for £41 per bottle. This like the Giscours is a seriously good wine at the price point.
Château Malartic Lagraviere is a Cru Classé de Graves, rising in notoriety and acclaim. It was owned by the champagne house, Laurient Perrier until 1997, when it was bought by Michele and Alfred Alexandre Bonnie. Their son and daughter-in-law have now taken control and are producing wines of the highest order, especially in great vintages, like 2016. In 2016 the blend is of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine embodies the elegance, structure, minerality and vibrancy of the leading wines of Pessac, as well as some of the highly sought after and celebrated nuances of cigar box and smoke.
Malartic Lagraviere 2016, 12×75 – £490 EP and 6×75 – £245 EP
94-96 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Malartic-Lagraviere is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot picked between 13-20 October at 46 hectoliters per hectare. It is matured in 80% new oak and the remainder one year old. It has a very composed and pure bouquet with blackberry, mint and just a touch of blueberry, the new oak neatly integrated and menthol developing with time. The palate is very well balanced with crisp acidity, fine structure and a keen line of acidity; this is a pixelated Pessac-Léognan that exudes style and panache. There is an effortless nature to this wine and it feels so persistent in the mouth that you cannot wait to take another sip. This is (another) impressive release from the bonny Bonnie family and do not be surprised if it eventually surpasses the outstanding 2015.
95-96 Points, James Suckling
This is so linear and refined with compacted fruit and superb tannin texture. The length and beauty to this grab you immediately and make you pay attention. Wait and see.
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