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Tasting Report: Bordeaux and Sauternes, 2017 Vintage

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The arrival of 2017 Bordeaux brings with it the inevitable nervousness over quality. It was a year where spring frost caused moderate damage and summer heat created a different type of problems. While some producers have learned how to manage extreme weather conditions, some wines aren’t showing their best. Sure enough, this tasting was fairly poorly attended by French producers — clearly many wineries (even some bigger names that I’ve previously raved about) didn’t feel their production was ready for a public showing to the media and buyers. (That said, several Sauternes producers who had not attended this event in the past did show up.)

I didn’t dream of doing a complete, top-to-bottom tasting like I did in 2015, so consider this roundup a spot check of sorts of the vintage, a moderated look at 2017 through the lens of a (very early) point in time.

This year, my favorites definitely hailed from Margaux (which I tend to gravitate to), where Dauzac was (again) my top pick. Some my find the heavily fruited style of Saint-Julien to be to their liking (particularly Beycheville). I also gave top marks to Pomerol’s Rouget and La Cabanne plus Pauillac’s d’Armailhac.

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

2017 Bordeaux Tasting Report

White Wines

2017 Château Latour-Martillac Pessac-léognan Blanc – heavily floral, lots of peach and apricot. A-
2017 Chateau Olivier Pessac-léognan Blanc – brisk with acidity, tropical; atypical of Bordeaux but delightful. A-
2017 Château Pape Clément Pessac-léognan Blanc – creamy, with a new world feel; boldly fruity. A-

Red Wines

2017 Château Canon Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – soft, fresh berries; good structure. A-
2017 Chateau La Couspaude Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – tight, quite youthful and tannic. B
2017 Château La Gaffelière Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – solid structure with a big licorice and spice kick; ample dried fruit. A-
2017 Chateau Larcis Ducasse Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – aggressively earthy, heavy. B
2017 Chateau Pavie Macquin Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – moderate earth, heavily tannic; some balsamic notes. B+
2017 Chateau Valandraud Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – tons of grip; very tart and tight. B+

2017 Château La Cabanne Pomerol –bright and approachable, with lots of fresh fruit and a spicy finish. A
2017 Château Clinet Pomerol – rather tight, mushroom on the edge. B+
2017 Château Rouget Pomerol – big blackberry note, with lots of lush dark chocolate. A

2017 Château Cantemerle Haut-Médoc – aggressively tart, dried berries and a tannic edge; dense spice notes. B

2017 Château Cantenac Brown Margaux – still immature; lots of acid and balsamic. B
2017 Château Dauzac Margaux – great balance; gorgeous fruit and earth working well together (Dauzac is a perennial favorite). A
2017 Château Durfort-Vivens Margaux – clean vanilla notes; cherries and bold berry notes. A-
2017 Château Giscours Margaux – big fruit, some balsamic edge; lingering earth on the finish. A-
2017 Château Malescot Saint-Exupery Margaux – chewy graphite and leather dominate; anise; drying on the finish. B
2017 Château Rauzan-Segla Margaux – pretty, lightly floral; berries at first, then lingering earth. B+

2017 Château Beychevelle Saint-Julien – lush and boldly fruity, laced with earth; great balance. A
2017 Château Léoville Barton Saint-Julien – fruit-heavy, almost sweet at times; berry overload is a bit much. B+
2017 Château Léoville Poyferré Saint-Julien – again quite berry forward; long and lush, extremely fruity. A-

2017 Château d’Armailhac Pauillac – boldly fruity with an edge of mint; spicy with light earth notes. A
2017 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac – fairly thin, with fresh fruit fading quickly. B
2017 Château Lynch-Moussas Pauillac – also thin, with a milk chocolate note. B
2017 Château Pichon Baron Pauillac – well-rounded, plenty of fruit; edge of charred wood and some spice. A-

Sweet Wines

2017 Château Bastor-Lamontagne Sauternes – surprisingly acidic, pungent with greenery and herbs. B
2017 Château Coutet Sauternes-Barsac – lovely baked apple notes, almonds; quite fruity. A
2017 Château Doisy Daëne Barsac – lush with notes of grapefruit peel and almond paste; somewhat odd this year. B
2017 Château de Fargues Sauternes – honeyed, edge of menthol, ample spice. A-
2017 Château Guiraud Sauternes – fresh honey, lightly nutty. A-
2017 Château Haut-Peyraguey Sauternes – bold lemon and honey, almond nougat, and coconut notes; lovely. A
2017 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes – heavily nutty, some charred wood notes; hint of Asian spice. B+
2017 Château Rieussec Sauternes – a bit funky; quite vegetal. B-
2017 Château Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes – fresh and lemony, tough of almond and bold honey; great acidity. A
2017 Château Suduiraut Sauternes – heavy almond notes; chewy, apples and walnuts on the finish. B+

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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