Bordeaux : Vintage 2016. A First Look from the Union des Grand Crus Tasting Tour

The Union des Grand Crus Tasting Tour is an annual event where member of the wine trade get the opportunity to taste the newest vintage of Bordeaux and interact with the winemakers and vignerons. For the second year in a row, I’ve had the privilege of attending the tasting in Chicago. Definitely a cold January day, but an awesome experience to get a picture of the newest crop of premium Bordeaux.

Enjoy this quick four-minute video, covering the event and my impressions of the 2016 Vintage.


Okay. So I just left the Drake and I've got the black hands and black teeth to show for it from the fact that I've tasted 200 plus Bordeaux in the last four hours. I wanted to talk a little bit to all you about some of the impressions that I had.

This is a vintage that I heard over and over is a great Bordeaux vintage for a very different way than previous great Bordeaux vintages. In 2015, 2009, 2010, 2005, 2000, '95, '96, the vintage had a very strong identity. In this vintage, the thing that the winemakers kept saying is that this is a vintage that is great because of how easy it was to make the wine that you wanted to make.

If you wanted to make a classic Bordeaux, a little bit harsh when it's young and age into something beautiful, you could make that. That was very easy to do. And if you wanted to make very modernist Bordeaux, Bordeaux that is lush and juicy and high alcohol and just gushes flavor at you, this is a year when that was also very easy to make.

It didn't matter whether I was talking to people from St. Emilion or people from St. Julien or people from Pessac-Leognan, they were all saying the same thing, that this is the major characteristic of the 2016 vintage, and this is the thing that makes that 2016 vintage different from past vintages.

When I compare this to coming to Chicago for the 2015 Union of Grands Crus vintage tasting, that was a vintage where the Pessac-Leognan Grave area really dramatically stood out as the superior area. This was a year where I felt that in most areas lots of wineries made pretty good wine, and a few made truly exceptional wine, wineries like that, that have big prestigious names and really serious winemakers behind them. This was a vintage in which I think that they stood out from the crowd.

But if I have to say, "Okay, this is going to be a better vintage in this area of Bordeaux," I am going to put that on Margaux and St. Julien. In my little book, the ‘le carnet’ that they give you to write in with each of the different wineries you're tasting, when I was looking in through that, I was noticing that when it came to the sections for Margaux and for St. Julien, most of them were sort of noticeably good from those two regions. But then there were also at least two or three three-star wines from those vintages as well, things that jumped out to me as being a sort of truly exceptional bottle of wine.

Those regions were above average than good across the board, and then had those outstanding, step up Bordeauxs. That's something that I'm pretty happy about, and I would definitely push Margaux and St. Julien as the two places that really rose above the others during the 2016 vintage of Bordeaux.

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