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En Primeur 2016

En Primeur 2016

Bordeaux is in a buzz, the barrels have been rolled out, the glasses polished and the tables have been set. Today marks the first official day of 2016 en primeur week in Bordeaux. En primeur is an ionic part of the history of Bordeaux wine trade.

For over hundreds of years, the châteaus have worked with courtiers or brokers, to sell the wine to négociants who then ultimately sell to consumers. This three-tier system is called “La Place de Bordeaux”. For decades, only the négociants would buy the wine six months after harvest at a lower price and release the wine when it was ready. In the mid-1970’s, this process developed into selling the “future” wine to the entire trade and what has now become to be known as en primeur. Almost 70% of the Bordeaux production is sold during en primeur, so you can imagine producers are excited and nervous. During the week, the most important influencers and journalists will be tasting the wine and help set the price and demand for the vintage.

The wine is only six months old or just a newborn in the potential of growth. As it is difficult to judge the intelligence, height and beauty of a newborn, it is a challenge to judge the wine. Yet there are a few hints that every taster will be looking for including aroma, structure, density, weight, texture and above all quality. A skilled and experienced taster is able to see there is ageing potential and all the possibilities in the newborn’s future.

The 2015 vintage that will be tasted this week is said to be an excellent vintage but we will await the verdict of the critics. Andreas will be out tasting so be sure to follow us on Facebook or his Instagram for pictures and updates. Below enjoy some wines that have proved their potential and are still evolving from the en primeur system just a few years back.

en route

Château Haut Canteloup – Cuvée Tradition 2010
France – Bordeaux – Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux – Cabernet Franc – Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot – Red
91 Points
“I find this very attractive in a modern style and yet with a good balance of oak extraction and so forth. I would happily indulge already today, as you have that nice mouthful of juicy dark fruit; however it is certainly a wine that will continue to develop and gain more nuance and complexity with age.”

Château Batailley – 2012
France – Bordeaux – Pauillac – 5e Grand Cru Classé - Red
91 Points
“Good density and weight here. It is really ample fruit with those dark-berry flavours; cassis, dark plum and some chocolate. The oak is noticeable on the palate, but I really talk about fine wood here, adding a touch of that roasted coffee, vanilla. Already with that finely grained tannins, contributing to the freshness and the length.”

Château Broustet – 2011
France – Bordeaux – Sauternes / Barsac – 2eme Grand Cru Classe – Sweet
92 Points
“Really lushes palate. It has a good bite offering a very fine sense of freshness. Sweetness is quite high, but I think the sweetness and acidity really work well together in this case. Lushes fruit, with those finely spicy notes of saffron, almonds, a hint of almond paste. Nice viscosity as well.”

Château Faugères – 2012
France – Bordeaux – Saint Emilion – Grand Cru Classé – Red
93 Points    
“Still with a youthful freshness there; like freshly crushed berry fruit, with good level of acidity as well. Nice purity and definition. There is a little hint of oak in the background. Just adding a slight, slight hint of roasted coffee. Good purity of fruit on the finish. Long and persistent, really keeps delivering on the after taste.”

Château Haut Condissas – 2011
France – Bordeaux – Médoc – Red
91 Points
“High concentration here; good grip, good extract, still youthful but in terms of tannic texture, nicely polished with layers of those inky dark blackcurrants, plum, dark cherry. Very long and lingering finish. Fine wood all along, some hints of vanilla and roasted notes on the finish.”

Château Prieuré Lichine - 2012
France – Bordeaux – Margaux – 4e Grand Cru Classé – Red
92 Points
“Very stylish I would say, clearly with a notion of Cabernet elegance. Good purity, good persistence. Pretty delicious to drink already today, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second with a big juicy steak, for that fresh good tannin, good acidity, elegant dark fruit; but doubtlessly a wine that will be better after a few years in the bottle.”

Château Smith Haut Lafitte – 2012
France – Bordeaux – Pessac Léognan – Cru Classe des Graves – Red
92 Points
“Juicy dark fruit there, more cassis coming back with some of those tobacco and sage notes adding freshness. The oak is finely balanced and really nice freshness on the finish. Slight hint of complexity, I mean it is still a young wine but it already is starting to display a bit more, I mean it is quite multi-layered.”