Tasting Report: Bordeaux and Sauternes, 2015 Vintage

2015 Bordeaux is now hitting the market, which means it was time for a legion of winemakers from all of the areas appellations to descend on the U.S. and show off their new releases. For the first time since I’ve been attending this show, I was actually able to sample every wine being poured (with the exception of a single wine which was all gone by the time I got to their booth). As such, I have to consider this my most complete look at a Bordeaux vintage to date.

Looking at 2015 as a whole, it’s a mixed year with some very bright spots and a whole lot of middling wines. If any region stands out, it’s Margaux, which had the overall strongest showing of the bunch, with three wines showing very well already. Two particular reds stood out in my tasting: Château Léoville Poyferré from Saint-Julien and Château Pichon Baron from Pauillac, both of which exude that intense, classic Bordeaux earthiness, but which are well balanced and already drinking well. On the sweet wine front, Château Doisy Daëne from the Barsac region is also a standout.

Complete (yet brief) notes on all wines tasted follow.

2015 Bordeaux Tasting Report

White Wines

2015 Château de Chantegrive Graves Blanc – bright and lemony. A-

2015 Château Carbonnieux Pessac-léognan Blanc – a slight vegetal note, lemon edges. B+
2015 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-léognan Blanc – some nuttiness, rich finish. A-
2015 Chateau de Fieuzal Pessac-léognan Blanc – slightly muddy, but with solid fruit. B+
2015 Chateau de France Pessac-léognan Blanc – undistinguished. B
2015 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-léognan Blanc – very herbal, almost vegetal. B
2015 Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-léognan Blanc – very high acid, lots of tropical notes, New World style. B+
2015 Chateau La Louviere Pessac-léognan Blanc – slightly doughy. B
2015 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Pessac-léognan Blanc – simple, light peach notes. B
2015 Chateau Olivier Pessac-léognan Blanc – very perfumed, high in acid with lots of fruit. A-
2015 Château Pape Clément Pessac-léognan Blanc – cherry, moderate herbal profile. B
2015 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-léognan Blanc – rather plain, undistinguished. B+

Red Wines

2015 Château de Chantegrive Graves Rouge – heavy cinnamon and nutmeg notes; unusual. B+

2015 Château Carbonnieux Pessac-léognan Rouge – nutty with bacon notes. B
2015 Chateau les Carmes Haut-Brion Rouge – lighter style, some vanilla and wood notes. B+
2015 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-léognan Rouge – pungent and ripe, lots of spices. B+
2015 Chateau de Fieuzal Pessac-léognan Rouge – gritty, bacony with dusky spices. B
2015 Chateau de France Pessac-léognan Rouge – thin, quiet. B
2015 Chateau Haut-Bailly Pessac-léognan Rouge – fruity, lighter body, fragrant finish. B+
2015 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-léognan Rouge – thick berry notes, bursting with fruit. B+
2015 Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-léognan Rouge – high acid, some vegetal character. B
2015 Chateau La Louviere Pessac-léognan Rouge – engaging, plump and spicy. A-
2015 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Pessac-léognan Rouge – thinner, some nuttiness. B
2015 Chateau Olivier Pessac-léognan Rouge – pencil lead and some dried berry notes. B+
2015 Château Pape Clément Pessac-léognan Rouge – tough, some vegetal character. B-
2015 Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-léognan Rouge – highly spiced, bold fruit profile. A-

2015 Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – weedy and heavy with vegetation, intense tannins. B-
2015 Château Canon Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – undercooked, vegetal. B-
2015 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – expressive berry notes atop layers of earth. A-
2015 Chateau La Couspaude Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – funky, big barnyard character. C+
2015 Chateau Dassault Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – balanced, notes of spice, fruit, and wet earth. A-
2015 Chateau La Dominique Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – somewhat tight, has promise over time. B+
2015 Clos Fourtet Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – lively, with notes of cloves, lots of fruit. A-
2015 Château La Gaffelière Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – dusty, short on the palate, green notes. C+
2015 Château Grand Mayne Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – thin, uninspired, weedy. C+
2015 Chateau Larcis Ducasse Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – fresh and balanced, fruity, herbal, and lightly earthy. A-
2015 Chateau Pavie Macquin Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – surprising, big blueberry and cocoa powder notes, tight with acidity. A-
2015 Chateau Villemaurine Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – heavy earth, quite tannic. B-
2015 Chateau Valandraud Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – a thick wine, with cassis, wet earth, and tobacco notes. A-
[get more 2015 Saint-Emilion wine reviews here]

2015 Château Beauregard Pomerol – restrained, meaty and leathery notes beneath a dusky fruitiness. B+
2015 Château La Cabanne Pomerol – a bit watery, dry earth notes. B-
2015 Château Clinet Pomerol – herbal edge, wet earth and dried spices. B-
2015 Château Gazin Pomerol – bold earth, tannic. B
2015 Château Rouget Pomerol – chewy fruit, bright and fresh. A-

2015 Château Clarke Listrac-Médoc – heavily floral, but a bit of wet dog in the mix, too. B
2015 Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac-Médoc – a ton of grip, slate notes. B

2015 Château Chasse-Spleen Moulis-en-Médoc – austere and a bit dusty, green and short. B
2015 Château Maucaillou Moulis-en-Médoc – strongly beefy, wet earth. B-
2015 Château Poujeaux Moulis-en-Médoc – quite dusty, heavily earthy. B-

2015 Château Beaumont Haut-Médoc – floral notes atop light fruit. B+
2015 Château de Camensac Haut-Médoc – blackberry and tar, graphite notes. B
2015 Château Cantemerle Haut-Médoc – brighter fruit, with a medicinal edge. B
2015 Château Citran Haut-Médoc – very tannic, tar and dried fruit; currant notes. B+
2015 Château Coufran Haut-Médoc – unusual, with black fruits, tobacco, and eucalyptus notes. B+
2015 Château La Lagune Haut-Médoc – gentle earth, lots of dried fruits and savory spices. B+
2015 Château La Tour Carnet Haut-Médoc – a wonderful fruitiness, blueberry heavy, with some spice. A-

2015 Château La Tour de By Médoc – bold fruit, some eucalyptus, herbs. A-

2015 Château Brane-Cantenac Margaux – tight, a bit rubbery, with some spice on the finish. B+
2015 Château Cantenac Brown Margaux – heavy acidity, earthy tannin and vegetal notes. B-
2015 Château Dauzac Margaux – bold fruit with notes of earth and spice, lingering almond notes. A-
2015 Château Durfort-Vivens Margaux – chewy and expressive, blackberries and spice. A-
2015 Château Ferriere Margaux – wet earth notes linger, some greenery. B
2015 Château Giscours Margaux – balanced, with a tart, dried fruit edge; floral at times. A-
2015 Château Kirwan Margaux – some slate notes, floral elements, with a long finish of dried fruit. B+
2015 Château Lascombes Margaux – heavily trannic, some spice. B
2015 Château Malescot Saint-Exupery Margaux – big tobacco notes, learthery, with lingering dried fruit notes. B+
2015 Château Marquis de Terme Margaux – cherry, plus some spice; quite tannic. B
2015 Château Prieure-Lichine Margaux – boldly fruity, fresh and ready to go but uncomplex. B+
2015 Château Rauzan-Segla Margaux – bold strawberry and blueberry character. A-
2015 Château Siran Margaux – tight and earthy. B-
2015 Château du Tertre Margaux – leather, pungent with green notes; some underlying fruit. B

2015 Château Beychevelle Saint-Julien – expressively fruity, with a big berry character balanced by grippy tannins; lots of promise here. A-
2015 Château Branaire-Ducru Saint-Julien – boldly earthy, some oxidized notes. B-
2015 Château Gloria Saint-Julien – undistinguished. B
2015 Château Gruaud Larose Saint-Julien – light body, with lush fruit and some spices. B+
2015 Château Lagrange Saint-Julien – very dry, intense herbal and leather notes. B
2015 Château Langoa Barton Saint-Julien – some astringency; tobacco and vegetal flavors. B-
2015 Château Léoville Barton Saint-Julien – slightly thin, a bit green and gummy. B-
2015 Château Léoville Poyferré Saint-Julien – quite dense, expressive, fully of flowers, dry berries, some earth; beautiful balance, perhaps the best wine of the tasting. A
2015 Château Saint-Pierre Saint-Julien – very earthy, with pungent vegetal notes. B-
2015 Château Talbot Saint-Julien – dry and restrained. B

2015 Château d’Armailhac Pauillac – cherry and ample blackberry notes, some spices. A-
2015 Château Clerc Milon Pauillac – very acidic, almost oxidized, heavy dust. B
2015 Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse Pauillac – very dry, tannic; still developing. B
2015 Château Haut-Bages Libéral Pauillac – thinner, but an exuberant fruitiness shows through. B-
2015 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac – lots of depth, earthy but rounded with fresh tobacco and some leather. A-
2015 Château Lynch-Moussas Pauillac – loads of earth and grippy tannins, developing. B
2015 Château Pichon Baron Pauillac – lots of depth, huge spice and leather notes; excellent balance. A
2015 Château Pichon-Longueville Pauillac – big cassis notes, tobacco; quite dry. B+

2015 Château Cos Labory Saint-Estèphe – some green notes, lots of earth. B
2015 Château Lafon-Rochet Saint-Estèphe – expressive, boldly spicy; some nutty notes. A-
2015 Château Ormes de Pez Saint-Estèphe – quite fruity; blueberries and strawberries galore. B+
2015 Château de Pez Saint-Estèphe – lots of earth and some acid, which brightens up the body. B+
2015 Château Phélan Ségur Saint-Estèphe – dry, earthy; quite tight, needs lots of time. B

Sweet Wines

2015 Château Coutet Sauternes-Barsac – highly acidic, bold lemon and lime. B+
2015 Château Doisy Daëne Barsac – heavy honey and spice notes, enchanting fruit. A
2015 Château de Fargues Sauternes – well honeyed, with tropical notes. B+
2015 Château Guiraud Sauternes – peach heavy, with a rustic edge; a bit vegetal. B
2015 Château Haut-Peyraguey Sauternes – simple structure, herbal edge. B+
2015 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes – brighter, with lemon notes. A-
2015 Château Suduiraut Sauternes – ruddy, with dark honey notes and some nuts. A-

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