Margaux: the Left Bank 2015 vanguard

The UGC tastings organised by Bordeaux are all about showcasing the new vintage, whipping up the excitement of the world’s wine merchants as they tour Bordeaux’s wineries.

This year sees the Chinese back in numbers! – But the Bordelais have learnt, they will of course treat the Far Eastern buyers with respect, but they will also be careful this time. The same mistakes will not be made again!

So after the last four years Bordeaux needs a good vintage, and fortunately 2015 has delivered exactly that. The conditions are right to continue the recovery the market has looked for since 2011!

2015 is definitely a Merlot vintage, and yes, it’s a good vintage, but you cannot take a broad-brush approach to the whole region – we will still have to work to identify the best.

Chateau Rauzan-Segla

Our first port-of-call was to the Left Bank, and to Chanel owned Chateau Rauzan-Segla, where François Dugoua gave us the opportunity to calmly and conveniently taste the primeurs of around 100 of the region’s wines. This was a useful indicator of the general calibre of the vintage as a whole and allowed us to identify wines of particular interest. Chanel’s negociant, Gareth Howells, commented that “2015 is a good Bordeaux vintage, not a great one, but the outstanding wines are spectacular and a few will be really great.”

Rauzan-Segla 2015 is very promising and Chateau Canon, also owned by Chanel, showed well and together evidenced the improved quality across their estates. We could see certain consistency with some of critic James Suckling’s scores on the Bordeaux vintage, published earlier this week, for details click here.

Chateau Margaux

The experience at First Growth, Chateau Margaux moved us in a number of ways, notably we arrived just three days after the funeral of the Chateau’s Managing Director, Paul Pontallier..

The passion for wine at First Growth Margaux is genetic and the family flair at the chateau is very evident. As we arrived, we were greeted, at the entrance to this iconic Bordeaux chateau, by the charismatic owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos, who was in search of one of the family hounds, Zorba the beagle. With this warm welcome we then had the privilege of joining Paul Pontallier’s son, Thibault for the tasting itself.

Thibault Pontalier in Margaux Cooporage

Without doubt the passion for wine at Margaux is genetic, and Pontallier Senior would be enormously proud of his son who, with consummate skill and charm, explained the story of Margaux 2015 as he escorted us from the Norman Foster state of the art cellar, through the oldest vat room and finally to the estate’s cooperage where we tasted the Grand Vin whose quality was undeniable.

What can we say about Chateau Margaux 2015? A hugely special wine; the first to be created in the new cellars, designed by Sir Norman Foster and, more importantly, the last vintage of Paul Pontallier.  It has the makings of a truly great wine and was certainly our Left Bank Leader of the tastings today.

On leaving, Corinne now accompanied by her daughter, Alexandra, was again monitoring the progress of Zorba alongside one of the estate mules working in the vines directly in front of the Chateau. More charm, more grace – what a place – a First Growth chateau that feels like a home with family at the heart creating some of the finest wines in the world!

Margaux Wine Cellar (Norman Foster)

We ended the day on a sweet note at Chateau La Lagune for the Sauternes Barsac tastings. With all of the classified growths represented, this tasting provides the best way to understand the range and complexity of the sweet wines, but as always Chateau d’Yquem is not represented here, as the world’s most famous Sauternes will be tasted at LVMH owned Chateau Cheval Blanc.

The stand-out 2015 dessert wines showcased at La Lagube, were Chateau Coutet, Chateau de Fargues and Chateau Sigalas Rabaud; they all showed elegance, finesse, complexity and most importantly, balance. But for the real benchmark on the Sauternes vintage – we await Yquem!