2015 Right Bank Stars

Peter Shakeshaft2015 is definitely a Merlot vintage, and it has helped many estates in St Emilion and Pomerol to show their best, but it also evidences the disparate qualities of the region’s wines this year.

At our recent dinner in the UK with Cheval Blanc’s Technical Director, Pierre-Olivier Clouet, he had intimated that 2015 was not to be missed, and this view was endorsed by those we met earlier in the Primeurs week on the Left Bank.

Pierre-Olivier Clouet at CHEVAL BLANC dinner

Pierre-Olivier Clouet at Vin-X CHEVAL BLANC dinner

Pierre Lurton, Director of the two great Bordeaux estates; Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem (both owned by brand goliath, LVMH) welcomed us to Cheval Blanc. His view: “2015 is a fantastic vintage for Cheval Blanc, at harvest we thought we had something special, but it’s better than we thought.”

We were then joined by Pierre-Olivier who explained the evolution of the 2015 vintage this far; from harvest to barrel. During harvest the juice from the estate’s 40 plots were tasted and in creating the blend for 2015 the winemaker has used the produce from all but two of the plots in the Grand Vin. The Estate has, for the first time since 1988, not produced a second wine, the full production is being used for Chateau Cheval Blanc 2015 – such is the belief in this vintage.

Chateau Cheval Blanc

Chateau Cheval Blanc

Pierre-Olivier commented “In creating the blend, every time we took away the juice from one of the plots, it took something away from the wine. The perfect balance required the production from all of the plots, it was a brave decision not to produce Petit Cheval this year but we believe it is the right strategy for 2015. Our aim is not to produce the best wine of Bordeaux, but the best Cheval Blanc and to respect the DNA of our Estate.”

Our view – without doubt Cheval Blanc have got it right and for fans of this iconic Saint Emilion brand, this is a must-have.

Chateau D'Yquem

Chateau d’Yquem

Also in the LVMH stable, Chateau d’Yqeum held its primeur tasting in the Orangery at Cheval Blanc. Having attended the Sauternes and Barsac tastings in Chateau La Lagune the day before our reference points may have been 24 hours previous but to be honest – it’s not needed. There were good representations of the appellation there but as Renaud Ruer says “Yquem is another planet!”

The 2015 Yquem is outstanding, better than 2005. The warmth last year resulted in very high levels of sugar (144g/l) and the Botrytis, ‘the noble rot’, took its time developing the hallmarks of a great Sauternes. The Estate’s team, led by Chief Winemaker Sandrine Garbay, has created a complex but beautifully pitched wine in Chateau d’Yquem 2015.

Chateau Troplong Mondot

Chateau Troplong Mondot

Troplong Mondot certainly do the Primeurs in style; we enjoyed an intimate tasting in the cellar of the 2015 vintage where it validated the Chateau’s growing reputation as one of the more consistent producers of some of the finest wines in Bordeaux.

Carrying on the tradition established by owner, Xavier Pariente and his late wife Chistine Valette-Pariente, the Chateau serves a wonderful lunch, every day during the Primeurs week. Having evolved from a family affair in the Chateau kitchen to now being served in the onsite Michelin starred, Les Belles Perdrix restaurant, those lucky enough to join Xavier and his team, enjoy one of the region’s Primeur highlights.

We savoured Troplong Mondot 2006, 11, 12 and 13 over lunch and gained an insightful view on the Bordeaux system, which we will share in our next ‘commentary from Bordeaux’.