Follow our trip through Bordeaux during this year’s En Primeur barrel tastings. ARVI’s team will be touring, tasting, and exploring the greatest producers to get a first-hand look at the 2016 vintage. Throughout the first week of April, 2017 we will be updating our webpage each day to give you an inside-look at the most chaotic, but nonetheless celebratory time for this fine-wine capital.

DAY ONE

Pessac-Léognan

Domaine de Chevalier

Château Haut-Bailly

Château Pape Clément

Les Carmes Haut-Brion

Château Haut-Brion

Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Margaux

Château Margaux

Château Giscours

Château Palmer

Saint-Estèphe

Château Cos d'Estournel
And the full ARVI team is officially here to taste. We met our Head Sommelier, Davide Vaccarini at A Grand Tasting to get a head start and a first look at En Primeur 2016. With over 200 wines of the newest Bordeaux vintage in one place, we surely made the most of our early afternoon. Earlier in the day, however, Davide had the chance to taste at the greatest châteaux in Pessac-Lèognan. Domaine de Chevalier is up there, with the comment, “best ever?” Château Haut-Bailly presented dense wines, full of concentration. Château Pape Clément is becoming a quick crowd favorite– it confirmed its high-quality status once again with this 2016 vintage. It just gets better year after year. And moving on to the only château with a Bordeaux city address, Carmes Haut-Brion stunned this year. Its 2016 vintage and its new cellar are both complete stunners.

For lunch, Davide started with a tasting of 2016 Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion which was in his words, "explosive" in every sense of the term. Haut-Brion was purely incredible, amazing structure, huge persistency that goes on for minutes. He then enjoyed a great spread with pioneer, Jean Phillipe Delmas.

In the afternoon we continued our journey through the most name worthy château in the appellation, Château Margaux. It’s always like a dream driving up the tree-lined drive way, it’s sort of like the road to heaven except at the end there are amazing wines, and 2016 is no different. Château Giscours was another great Margaux estate, with the sophisticated, well-defined masculine Château Giscours and the loose, softer tannins of Château du Tertre. Alexander Van Beek perfecty compared these two wines to music, their styles varying quite a bit from classical to jazz, but nonetheless enjoyable.

At our first stop we had a wonderful view of Château Palmer from our Grand Tasting, and we were more than excited to taste for ourselves this afternoon. And it was worth the wait, the ultra-refined tannins say it all. We ended the day, happy, grateful and well, completely full after our perfect dinner at Cos d’Estournel in Saint-Estèphe. Sitting down with the great, Michel Reybier himself was the ultimate treat. The premises, as well as the wines are unique and agewothy.

DAY TWO

Pomerol

Château Clinet

Château l'Eglise-Clinet

Vieux Château Certan

Château La Conseillante

Saint-Émilion

Château Figeac

Château Cheval Blanc

Château La Dominique

Château Angélus

Château Teyssier

Château Pavie

Château Ausone
Crossing over the Gironde Estuary, we made our way to the Right Bank for a full day of tasting. The first stop of the morning was at Château Clinet, one of the leading estates in Pomerol. The CEO and proprietor, Ronan Laborde and his wife, Monique Bailly led us through the 2016 vintage. This year’s Clinet was dense and powerful, with a firm backbone thanks to the higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our second visit in Pomerol was to a smaller estate just a stone’s throw from Clinet, Château L’Eglise-Clinet. As always it’s a pleasure to meet with owner, Denis Durantou and this year with an impressive line-up of 2016s. He confirms, “Without great Merlot, it’s impossible to produce great wine.”
Next up on our list was Vieux-Château-Certan, with one wine, Alexandre Thienpont – grandson of founder, George Thienpont, walked us through the 2016 vintage. Its high-class ranking year after year is more than upheld with this production, it is even more opulent.
Seeing purple, we had our fourth tasting at Château La Conseillante. As one of the most emblematic properties in the appellation, this 2016 is an absolute miracle in Pomerol. This year is the great come back of La Conseillante.
Bordering the Pomerol appellation, we move to Saint-Émilion to Château Figeac. This juicy and pleasantly structured 2016 is a Figeac that can guarantee its future as a Classé A estate.

For lunch our team split between the two neighboring Saint-Émilion estates, Château Cheval Blanc and Château La Dominique. With a perfect view of Cheval Blanc, half of the ARVI crew tasted at Château La Dominique with Gwendeline Lucas before sitting down to an outstanding lunch prepared by Pierre Gagnaire at Terrasse Rouge. While the others finished up a delicious meal at Cheval Blanc, we met the rest of the team for a tasting of the 2016 vintage at Cheval Blanc. Davide remarks, “This is the real Cheval style, it is going to be a great vintage for the Château.”

Less than a kilometer from the memorable Saint-Émilion bell tower, Château Angélus welcomed us for the first tasting of the afternoon. Moving more towards their signature style, we have much more Cabernet Franc that gives great structure and vibrant intensity.
Progressively growing in size and quality over the years, our next tasting was at Château Teyssier. Davide says the 2016 vintage is a good-quality everyday drinking wine, maybe even the perfect wine to serve at a spring BBQ.

Finally starting to change their style with less maceration, Château Pavieis fresher and ultimately has a better better balance between tannin, structure and acidity.
We ended our day at the top of the picturesque town, Saint-Émilion at Château Ausone. It was very elegant. Davide found that Ausone 2016 is multi-dimensional, one of the best ever.

DAY THREE

Pauillac

Château Mouton Rothschild

Château Lafite Rothschild

Château Pontet-Canet

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron

Château Latour

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Saint-Estèphe

Château Les Ormes-de-Pez

Château Montrose

Saint-Julien

Château Léoville Las Cases

Château Léoville Poyferré

Château Léoville Barton
Another early morning for the ARVI team, today we visited the leading estates in Paulliac and Saint-Estèphe. Driving along the Left Bank of the Gironde, our first stop was at Château Ormes de Pez. Similarly owned by the Cazes family, we had a tasting of Château Lynch-Bages due to the ongoing renovations at Lynch. Tasting the 2016 vintage was a treat, Davide comments, the Lynch-Bages this year is “one of the best” he’s ever tried. “This is going to be a great vintage for Lynch-Bages.”
Our second visit brought us to Saint-Estèphe. At Château Montrose, Davide comments, this 2016 is a big improvement, “it has a shine that will come out with time, a huge potential.” With a quick car ride, we were back in the Paulliac appellation, we tasted at Château Mouton Rothschild and the 2016 vintage is impressive. The second wine, in Davide’s opinion is “not petit anymore, it’s a wine of its own”. In scheme with the vintage, Mouton’s Grand Vin was precise and elegant. It’s a deep and full wine, with a remarkably persistent finish. The next tasting was at Château Lafite Rothschild, and the 2016 vintage here is seductive and succulent, on the edge of sexy. Its elegance is matched by fresh, yet velvety round tannins.

Château Pontet-Canet was our final tasting before enjoying an amazing lunch of local products. Pontet-Canet is as cutting-edge as it gets in Bordeaux, dedicated to organic and biodynamic agriculture, this estate exceeds at echoing the soul of their terroir. This year’s Pontet-Canet 2016 was exuberant, and bold. Davide jokes, that “a life of luxury, would start with drinking this every day.” After filling up on French cheeses, we headed to Château Léoville Barton in Saint-Julien. The 2016 Léoville is characteristically Saint-Julien, thanks to its complexity this wine has true aging potential. Just a quick drive down the road we stopped at Château Léoville Poyferré. Meeting with the winemaker herself, she says this vintage comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the unusual weather conditions. While the region dealt with extreme contrasts, from wet and cold to dry and warm, Léoville Poyferré is wonderful. It is “a complete wine, it’s a wine for me” Davide remarks.

With unarguably the most striking architecture in Bordeaux, Château Pinchon-Longueville Baron looks like you’re stepping into a fairytale. The wines are equally extraordinary for this 2016 vintage, with Davide saying, this is “one of the best wines I’ve tasted during our En Primeur tour”. The Grand Vin is very strong, but never aggressive – the tannins are so seamlessly integrated.
Château Latour presented a super-elegant 2016 first wine. With laser-like precision this wine marks the first organic vintage for Latour, it is absolutely brilliant. Just neighboring Latour, we tasted Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and wow, what a breathtaking vintage. The second wine, Réserve de la Comtesse is clearly “not just a second wine, its serious” Davide comments. The Grand Vin was no let down either; it was incredible – a true example of Pichon style. This dense wine is a comprehensive, complex and refined top player of 2016.

At the end of the day, we had one last tasting in Saint-Julien. The 2016 vintage at Château Léoville Las Cases showed a refined and complex Cabernet Franc, and an opulent and fleshy Merlot. This blend flawlessly exposed an extremely smooth tannic structure, in sync with its undeniable lengthy finish.

DAY FOUR

Pessac-Léognan

Margaux

Taking advantage of our last hours in Bordeaux we made two more stops before catching the plane home. During En Primeur week there are these fabulous organized tastings of the 2016 vintage according to appellation. Our last Grand Tastings were of the Pessac-Lèognan and Margaux appellations.

Held at the breathtaking Château Carbonnieux we were able to taste a selection of wines from the Bordeaux’s youngest appellation, Pessac-Lèognan. With many great producers, our tastings reconfirmed the brilliance of Carmes Haut-Brion, Pape Clément and Domaine de Chevalier 2016s. Speaking with the Techinal Director from Domaine de Chevalier, Rémi Edange, we enjoyed a nice assumption of this year’s weather conditions and how they effected the harvest. The 2016 Domaine de Chevalier was lovely, very well done. With a good persistency on the palette, the long lingering flavors evolve into a fruity finale. With seven centuries of vinous origins, this 2016 Pape Clément was refreshing and medium-bodied, with well-integrated tannins. Years of tradition, alongside state-of-the-art techniques makes Pape Clément a unique and key player in the region. Château Carmes Haut-Brion really amazed us this year, being one of the best Carmes we ever tried.

Heading north following the Gironde on the Left Bank, we found ourselves at Château Kirwan for a Grand Tasting of the Margaux appellation. The Margaux appellation is one of the largest in Bordeaux, its diversity has led to the creation of inimitable wines. We were able to try Château Brane-Cantenac, and it makes for a great Margaux, an honest reflection of the virtuosity and complexity of the Margaux terroir. Well-balanced, the 2016 flawlessly shows the vintage character and the chateaux’s signature elegance. Château Giscours was incredibly expressive in a traditional Margaux style. We were completely enthralled with the 2016 Château Malescot Saint-Expuéry, it is powerful with an exceptional bouquet of ripe fruits that adds to the freshness. This is a stunning wine. Château du Tertre, thanks to major investments in the late 1990s, the wines now perfectly communicate their gravelly terroir. Intrinsically elegant, this soft-tannin 2016 shows the true personality of du Tertre.

Unfortunately, we cannot stay in Bordeaux forever. As we head back to our home base, after days of sipping and tasting the latest vintage, we are all extremely grateful for this magical, yet nonetheless busy time we spent in the world’s fine wine capital. Meeting with producers, visiting châteaux, and exploring the terroir that cultivates the world’s most famous wines was unequivocally magnificent. The people behind the wines are just as important as the wines themselves. These are the individuals working every day to create inimitable hand-made wines. We would like to thank all the châteaux we visited for their hospitality - it was truly an honor to learn from you.