This morning there have been a flurry of releases. The most notable are Clos du Marquis and La Lagune, which have both been awarded the exceptional score of 93-95 points. Clos du Marquis was one of the first second labels produced in Bordeaux, that of the mighty Leoville Las Cases which in 2016 was awarded 98-100 points. Since 2007 the Estate decided to separate Clos du Marquis making it an Estate in its own right. The vineyards used for Clos du Marquis are sited behind those of Las Cases and stand alone, rather than being the young vines of Las Cases. This explains why Clos Du Marquis displays its own distinctive profile, deriving from its own terroir.
In 2016 they have made the finest ever Clos du Marquis, which has been awarded 93-95 points from Neal Martin. It is a towering wine which Martin attests ‘The palate is beautiful, perhaps one of the most powerful that I came across in Saint Julien, certainly no shy retiring flower, yet it effortlessly manages to retain the precision and tension one expects from this cru.’ We tasted it alongside Las Cases and the now second wine Le Petit Lion and it was Clos du Marquis that stood out for its torque. St Julien was one of the villages of the vintage, the leading parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon truly shining: Clos du Marquis led the charge for power, which substantiates its First Growth-esque score of 93-95 points from Neal Martin and 94-95 from James Suckling. It is priced today at £470 per case of 12 or £235 per case of six. It is hard to draw comparison with older vintages on account of it treading new ground in terms of excellence. In fact this is a coming of age for the Clos vineyard, which is considered some of the great terroir of the village, surrounded by the most prestigious classified growths of both St. Julien and Pauillac, which it borders. Due to its locality further west it is surrounded by Leoville Poyferre, Leoville Barton and Pichon Lalande. In 2016 it speaks of its Pauillac style muscle and structure, while harnessing balance, grace and elegance. This presents a real gem, from one of the finest winemaking teams in the world.
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Clos du Marquis 2016, 12×75 – £470 EP
93-95 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Clos du Marquis was picked from 30 September to 19 October and consists of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, matured in 55% new oak. Yields came in at 40 hectoliters per hectare and the alcohol at 13.55%. The bouquet is very intense at the moment with small black cherries, incense, iris and a touch of shucked oyster shells. The palate is beautiful, perhaps one of the most powerful that I came across in Saint Julien, certainly no shy retiring flower, yet it effortlessly manages to retain the precision and tension one expects from this cru. There is a firm back bone here, but the tannins are so precise that you barely notice, while the aftertaste has superb salinity. This is a majestic Clos du Marquis, but it will require several years in the cellar.
94-95 Points, James Suckling
The clarity and beauty of this young red are brilliant with blackberry, blueberry and mineral undertones. Full and racy. Long and wonderfully polished. Racy. Better than the 2015.
Chateau La Lagune is a third growth wine located in the Haut Medoc, in the commune of Ludon, one of the first grand cru you encounter before entering the village of Margaux. The stunning Estate dates back to 1715, the vineyards planted in 1724. In 1961 it was purchased by the Ayala Champagne company, which was sold in turn to the Frey family, who sold Ayala and bought Jaboulet and are also substantial shareholders in Billecart-Salmon. As such they have three of the jewels of wine. Chateau Lagune has long been viewed as exceptional and recent investments have cemented its quality.
Once again, in 2016 La Lagune has produced something special, as they did in 2009 and 2010. Today’s price of £420 per case of 12, or £210 per case of six represents a 22% discount to the 95 point scoring 2009 which trades today at £540 and a 15% discount to the 94 point scoring 2010. This is a stunning La Lagune which is reminiscent of the 2005 which has a score today of 94 points to which it trades at a 32% discount, yet with more tension and elegance, a more traditional rewarding claret. This is a very compelling effort and attractive price, for what is surely one of, if not the potentially finest ever La Lagune. £35 per bottle is a really attractive price of a third growth wine with a potential 95 points.
La Lagune 2016, 12×75 – £420 EP
93-95 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
At least for this writer, the 2016 La Lagune is a return to form after their 2015 did not light my fire last en primeur. Lucid purple/black in color, it has a very intense bouquet with blackberries and sloes, whilst maintaining delineation and focus, almost pastille-like in style. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm tannin, perhaps just a little brittle on the entry, though it is commensurate with others 2016s that I tasted in barrel. I appreciate the focus and the “correctness” of this La Lagune, notwithstanding the freshness and tension that defines the persistent finish. This is a long-term wine, so do not be afraid to give this four or five years in the cellar. This is an excellent La Lagune, one of the best in recent years.
Also released this morning is the perennial favourite Chateau Talbot, the household Fourth Growth. In 2016 it has produced a fine vintage which has been awarded 90-92 points from Neal Martin and 93-94 from James Suckling. It has been released this morning for £492 per case of 12, or £246 per case of six. Talbot displays excellent vintage premium, for example the 89 points scoring 2005 trades above £600 a case of 12, so it pays to secure it on release. We think 90-92 points is a little on the low side and the 2016 has real potential to show its promise over the next 10 years.
It is located near the Gironde estuary in the North-East of Saint Julien bordering the southern aspect of Pauillac. Its vineyards are some of the largest in the Medoc and occupy the highest point in Saint Julien. The vineyard is planted with 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc with the wines aged in 50-60% new oak for 16 months and it has an average production of 25,000 cases.
Talbot 2016, 12×75 – £492 EP
90-92 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Talbot has a conservative bouquet with slightly leafy black fruit, a subtle earthiness that percolates through with time. At first, the aromatics seem standoffish, but you gradually warm to its charms. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp and tensile tannin. There is an edginess to this Talbot, and it does not quite possess the harmony and charm of other Saint Julien 2016s. But, there is personality here—a bit curmudgeonly and yet you keep going back to take another sip. One to watch.
93-94 Points, James Suckling
A full-bodied red that stays in check with a firm and lightly chewy tannin backbone. Full body and an intense finish. Shows excellent potential.
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