While the majority of Bordeaux releases have left us cold so far, at Atlas we have opted to buy the First Growth that have released to date. They have been released at a price which is a fraction higher than we hoped but to be honest, at a price that is a good deal lower than we expected. There has been a 9% increase in Euro cost which, coupled with the added impact of the exchange rate, leads trade prices to be in the same ballpark as the current prices for 2015 counterparts. Which Châteaux excelled in which of these vintages is a topic of some debate and frankly that discussion point will not fade until the wines have seen at least a decade in bottle. Simon's offer, below.
I should stress a comment made in our 2016 Bordeaux Vintage Report: I have never been so impressed by a vintage across the length and breadth of the region based on barrel tastings. There is still, however, a judgement call to be made with regards to the value offered by individual wines – irrespective of quality. This year many releases have failed to impress on this basis. I was seriously stunned by both Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, though the latter has had a heftier increase in price and does not often reward early purchase so we opted not to purchase in 2016 at this time.
Château Haut-Brion has released 25% less stock compared to last year, or so I am told by negociants. Clearly the Château is happy to sit on stock to release at a higher price down the line. This rationale is being shared by so many of the leading Châteaux in Bordeaux today. It is irritating as it means that in some instances it is near impossible to acquire the volumes you might desire – even when a Château does release at a price that works. Château Mouton-Rothschild, on the other hand, took the decision to release the same percentage of stock as they did last year… it is interesting to note how different strategies apply.
Leaving any frustrations aside, I was impressed by the precision and balance of the 2016s. Haut-Brion has proven consistency across recent vintages and continues its rich vein of form. The 2016 is perhaps not the extrovert style of the 2015, but comes across as a truly refined, classic… perhaps more concerned with deceptive weight than breadth and density. As to Mouton, so much has already been written about the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon in the Northern Medoc and the 2016 shows a rare poise between the typical opulent nature of Mouton and a tautness of structure. It is the purity and freshness that enliven this vintage and add intrigue to its potential. Both of these will without doubt prove fascinating to re-taste in time… I agree with Neal Martin on this point in particular. It is interesting to consider how many pairs of great vintages exist in Bordeaux, such as 1989/1990 and 2009/2010....2015/2016 is another addition to this list.
2016 Chateau Haut-Brion
(96-99) points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
£2450 per 6 bottle case in bond
The 2016 Haut Brion is a blend of 56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 19 September and 13 October. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that this represents a touch more Merlot than last year's vintage. It clearly has a more powerful and intense bouquet compared to the La Mission Haut-Brion, although maybe not the same killer level of detail and delineation. The palate is beautifully balanced with arching tannins that insistently grip the mouth. There are layers of black fruit, minerals, sea salt and a touch of crushed violets. Unlike the 2015 Haut-Brion, this is more linear, stricter and you could argue more nimble on its toes. Yet maybe it does not quite have the same depth and labyrinthine complexity that made the 2015 such an astonishing wine. Nevertheless, this 2016 is not far behind and it will be fascinating to compare in the future. Drink 2026-2070.
2016 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
(98-100) points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
£2450 per 6 bottle case in bond
The 2016 Mouton-Rothschild is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the latter two co-fermented, picked from 26 September and finished on 14 October. As usual, it is being matured in 100% new oak. It has a very intense bouquet with blackberry, raspberry, cold limestone and crushed violet aromas that if anything, appear to gain vigor with aeration in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, juicy tannin. There is a lot of fruit packed into this Mouton-Rothschild and therefore one can feel the weight in the mouth, yet the acidity keeps everything on tip-toes. The finish has superb precision and opulence, completing a Mouton-Rothschild that will rivet you to the spot. Tasted on two occasions, the second confirming that this is simply a magnificent wine. Whichever artist eventually designs the label is going to be drinking well. Drink 2026-2065.
Please let me know if of interest. Stocks are understandably limited, particularly with volumes released being low. We may be obliged to limit to no more than 12 bottles across the two wines.
To request a wine, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Atlas team. We can be reached on +44 (0)20 3017 2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting the form below. Please note that stock may be limited and is always sold on a 'first come, first serve' basis.