2016 Bordeaux: A Great Vintage and the Game is on!

July 3, 2017


I often refer to the weather in Bordeaux as turbulent and extreme which is why every vintage indeed has its very own character and style.  I don’t know anyone in Bordeaux or myself who lives there or watches the weather every day that could have told you 2016 was going to be a great vintage.


 My vintage report is this…Flowering took place in late May and early June and I was there the first week, it went very well about 85% successful. I started a tour with my customers on June 10th and it rained off and on the whole week, heavy at night and a few times during the day. After that week it continued to rain cats and dogs the entire month, making it one of the wettest months of June in history! My friends in Bordeaux were worried sick about rapid disease and even vines drowning if it kept raining. When the calendar switched to July so did the weather and drastically.  July and August were searing hot and by the end of August growers were again panicked that the vines would completely shut down from dehydration! They received a break when the temperatures dropped in September and when it rained hard on 9-13, this was a badly needed refresher for the vines and parched soils. It rained again on the 30th. October days were bright and sunny while the nights were dry and cool. The vines were looking good and without any rain in the forecast estates could wait for perfect ripeness.

 After tasting over 800 of the 2016’s in April the wines speak for themselves and yes they are truly great from every commune of Bordeaux. This vintage offers great wine at every price level, this makes me extremely happy!


 As of this writing the First growths and many other famous estates have not released their prices for 2016. The pricing of this vintage is a very tricky proposition because 2015 is also a very good to great vintage and an increase of even 10 to 20% will make the wines very expensive and many wines may not sell. Recent history proves this as 2010 is a great and powerful vintage but coming after 2009 that was also great but much more lush and enticing in style, many estates raised their prices in 2010, many customers were insulted and the results sales wise were not good. Believe me; many of the top negociants in Bordeaux are sitting on large amount of great unsold 2010.


There are in fact many great wines that are released and the smart ones that held their price and released early are selling well. Wine like Cos ‘d Estournel…my exact note… is a wine dominated by exotic black fruit all perfectly focused and balanced.  Great texture, style and taste. A huge winner, I like it better than Mouton and Lafite. A great Cos! 3 Stars. Cos has escalated in price by 30%. Ch Montrose has also sold well and increased in price. Ch. Lynch Bages came out last week, has sold very well and the price has moved up.


For the First Growths and other famous Right Bank estates that have built in demand from every corner of the world for their wines, the game of finding the correct price is a bit more complicated. On April 27th of this year just as we arrived home a hard frost hit Bordeaux causing some damage in every region and more in the Right Bank. With 2017 being compromised to some extent the result is that the estates are cutting 2016 allocations by as much as 50% to the negociants; which means those negociants will eventually offer us 50% of what we were offered in 2015 and that price will be a blended price from two small tranches.


Customers ask me everyday what I think the prices will be for the Firsts Growths, and the greats of the right bank and should they buy them? I tell them if I knew the answer to that I would not have to work for a living! But if you have been a buyer and collector of Bordeaux greatest wines, you would be absolutely crazy not to buy this great vintage; especially knowing 2017 has been effected by frost.

The bottom line is that 2016 is a fantastic vintage with great wines in every price range and style. For people that want to cellar this vintage for a long time, you buy the First Growths and wines like Haut Bailly, Cos d’Estournel, Montrose, Calon Segur, Angelus, Pavie, Palmer, Leoville Las Cases, the Pichon’s,  Leoville Barton and Lynch Bages, will all age gracefully. For delicious, lush as well as famous wines that will give pleasure before 20 years of age, you will love Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clement, Malescot St-Exupery, Branaire Ducru, Leoville Poyferre, Langoa Barton, Duhart Milon, Malartic-Lagravier and Alter Ego de Palmer.


 Great wines that offer tremendous value include, Ch. Cantemerle, Clos Du Marquis, Pagodes de Cos, Dame de Montrose, Ormes de Pez, Labegorce, Meyney, Poujeaux, Latour Martillac , Croix de Beaucaillou and Ch. Maucaillou. From the Right Bank great value can be found at Le Prieure, Fleur Cardinale, d’Aiguilhe, Le Fleur de Bouard, Bon Pasteur and Larcis Ducasse.


Bottom line is that the duty of every wine is to taste good and 2016 is a great tasting vintage from top to bottom.


Cheers to you!

Ralph Sands

PrimeCellar Consultant

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