Pomerol power in 2016

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine chronicles.com 

30 May 2017

Last year’s Pomerol Panache is followed by more serious tannin this year.

Whatever the case, Pomerol now has a run of three excellent vintages in a row. With some exceptions, 2016 is the most powerful among the three – more Pauillac than Pomerol. 2014 showcases brightness, and 2015 more inviting richness.

Tannic seriousness was best evidenced tasting through the Moueix stable, culminating in a Château Trotanoy that is more muscular than ever. By the same token, Vieux Château Certan was the most forebodingly powerful that I can recall from barrel. Petrus hit the scales at nearly 15% alcohol; it too, packs particular punch. Lafleur’s lofty, towering structure resembles that of Pauillac first growth Latour.

So in 2016 for Pomerol, more often than not, the tannins impose, although the best estates managed to include, too, much elegance, floral aspects and sumptuous charm.

In reading fellow critics, I agree with Jeff Leve, who “gives the nod” to 2015 for the appellation, on a general level. As he wrote in his review: “2016 is not a weaker vintage; 2016 Pomerol is just different.”

For me, the difference lies in the tannic power for so many of the 2016 Pomerols. Many will likely last longer than 2015, but will they convey the same charm as 2015? I am not an optimist. Crystal ball prognostications are as reliable as Greek trains being on time, however, so seeking Pomerol in 2016 would make for a wise choice, as the appellation features some of my top 2016 wines, as you can read in the Top of the Pops section. Read More

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Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition

Taking part in an international wine competition in San Diego 

26-28 May 2017 in San Diego

Many thanks to friend and chief judge Robert Whitley, for the opportunity to judge this weekend for the Critics Challenge in San Diego. I am honored to be a part of a panel of great wine connoisseurs.

Robert writes the syndicated Wine Talk column for Creators Syndicate. He and I agree totally that the Médoc excelled in particular for #Bordeaux16; here his excellent post. It is always a great pleasure to meet Robert in Bordeaux during en primeur or at Vinexpo. It will be great to meet again in San Diego these next three days!

Robert also is publisher of the online wine publication WineReviewOnline.com. His columns covering wine and spirits over the past 25 years have appeared in newspapers and magazines from coast to coast, and he also contributes columns and reviews to WineReviewOnline.com.

He also keeps busy as Executive Director of the San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge, Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition and Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition in addition to the Critics Challenge. @wineguru Read More

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Terroirs at Trimbach

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

25 May 2017

Earlier this month, it was great to meet Julien Trimbach, son of Jean Trimbach, and nephew of winemaking director Pierre Trimbach of the celebrated Trimbach Estate in Ribeauvillé in Alsace.

Trimbach wines are “go-to” in the sense that you can always rely on a pure, dry expression of Riesling, especially, that on their entry level brands at least quenches your (wine) thirst. Upper levels amount to wonderfully sublime experiences, for certain brands that the family produces.

Julien Trimbach

The family has held this domain since the 17th century, and their strong brand name has succeeded worldwide and at all price points: from entry level Pinot Blanc to top notch Riesling. Clos Sainte Hune, anyone?

But the 13th generation, along with cousins Frédérique and Anne, daughters of Pierre Trimbach, has been emphasizing terroir-named wines that seem to be appearing like so many autumnal mushrooms throughout the region.

More information on how the younger Alsace generation is focusing on terroir based wine? Here my article in Decanter from a few years back, still applicable today. Read More

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Environmentally friendly: new Bordeaux initiative

Press release – 23 May

Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru winegrowers commit to an “environmentally friendly” approach 

At their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 16th May 2017, the winegrowers of the Saint-Emilion Wine Council voted in favour of adopting environmentally friendly cultivation practices that will soon be added to the requirements of their appellations.
Saint-Emilion has often been a leader in issues related to the environment. Many individual or collective initiatives have been taken that improve winegrowing practices and reduce environmental impacts : agricultural equipment sharing collectives, the Libourne area Defence Group against Harmful Organisms, the TULIPE biodiversity initiative, environmental management systems, the EU’s Life+ funding programme, the BioDiVine biodiversity management project, etc.

In line with these initiatives and in an effort to go further, the Saint-Emilion Wine Council embarked on discussions with all the winegrowers in the Lussac Saint-Emilion, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, Saint- Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appellation areas. An Environmental Commission worked on this project for more than a year. A wide-ranging survey of all properties was carried out to characterise the environmental cultivation practices employed, and more than 400 winegrowers (54%) responded. Their answers revealed that they cared about the subject and were really conscious of the issues. The many reasons cited varied from meeting customers’ expectations to being worthy of a thousand-year-old wine-producing area and its listing as a UNESCO heritage site, while sometimes the views given opposed each other.

Based on these findings, the Environmental Commission drafted a series of proposals that were approved by the Board. The President of the Saint-Emilion Wine Council, Jean-François Galhaud saw to it that these measures were put to the vote during the Annual General Meeting on 16th May 2017, which was attended by a record number of members. Almost 350 votes were registered.

The environmental cultivation measures adopted by a large majority are the following:

– Blanket use of herbicides to be forbidden
– Use of herbicides on plot boundaries to be forbidden
– Estate’s treatment frequency indices to be measured and identified
– Vineyard and winery effluent treatment obligatory
– Commitment from every winegrower to work to obtain officially recognised environmental 
or organic certification, either individually or collectively, to be put into action before the 2019 harvest.

The last ambitious, innovative measure bears witness to the Council’s winegrowers’ ambition to embrace the future collectively and to make all the efforts of recent years bear palpable fruit. 
The Wine Council will support winegrowers in applying the environmental measures at every estate.

Press contacts 
Saint-Emilion Wine Council – Tel. +33 557 555 050
Franck Binard, Director of the Saint-Emilion Wine Council – franck.binard@vins-saint-emilion.com Philippe Raymond, Technical Director – philippe.raymond@vins-saint-emilion.com 

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Bordeaux 2016: Top of the Pops

Top of the pops

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

13 May 2017

In a blog post for the American company Total Wine, I submitted those barrel samples that left me with what the French call a coup de coeur: wines that go straight to the heart. Like the Grand Hotel photo (thanks, Miguel Lecuona), my Top of the Pops includes the grandest of wines, regardless of price. But also some made the cut, because of their relatively competitive prices. As we are expecting many top wines to be issued next week, I think it timely to share these impressions on my blog.

Now that I solved a glitch in WordPress, I have recovered the color function! So, as before, wines I like in particular in bold. Those with red and bold, even more. And nirvana wines? In red and bold and underline.

The great Latour (photo by Miguel Lecuona)

The first growths

A tough call, but Château Latour comes first among the firsts. Fellow blogger and photographer Miguel Lecuona dubbed it “a sense of momentum taking you forward” and that sums up the wine’s suave and subtle power. Above all, you get a sense of finely grained tannin on the palate, which displayed distinct notes of crushed tobacco, graphite and a mix of cool blueberry and ripe blackberry fruit. Everything seems in place. You get sumptuousness, too, from the 7% ripe and fresh Merlot that was particularly successful, explained estate technical director Hélène Génin. I could not get enough of the urbane class of this wine, with layers of pleasing palate texture and a distinct cigar box finish, displaying superb raciness and a very long finish. Bravo! 98-100 Read More

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