En primeur 2015 has made it to the home straight this week as the last remaining wines of the vintage are finally released. Of particular note is Chateau Montrose, an estate whose claim to be the finest in St Estephe is now firmly established. The incredible levels of investment at this property are paying off with wines of ever greater precision, intensity and complexity, and Montrose continues to be priced below neighbour and rival Cos d’Estournel.
Chateau Pichon Lalande 2015 – Pauillac. £500 per 6 en primeur
This is perhaps the less consistent of the Pichons in recent years but when they catch it just right the wines can be magical. Comparisons of the 2015 to the 1996 suggest that this could be a very special year for them.
The 2015 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot that was picked from 10 September with the young Merlot, finishing on 9 October. It includes 12.5% vin de presse (which incidentally was included in the blend). It has a very pure bouquet with expressive Merlot imparting black cherries and wild strawberry aromas that are embroidered with a thread of graphite. I noticed how it errs more towards black fruit with extended aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin on the entry, the Cabernet Sauvignon here in the driving seat despite that level of Merlot trying to get in a look. Together they give a sense of completeness to this Pichon Lalande that has semblances towards the great 1996. Whereas this Pauillac has a tendency to be more approachable than others, in fact, the 2015 has the backbone and substance to suggest that it will require a minimum of ten years' ageing, but patience will be amply rewarded. Nicolas Glumineau has overseen a quite brilliant Pichon Lalande here. 95-97pts – Neal Martin.
The aromatics, tension and crescendo of fruit across the palate delivered by this wine are superb.
The 2015 Montrose is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 15 September and 8 October, the fruit sorted three times using three sorting tables, then an optical sorting machine and finally by hand. Matured in 65% new oak, it possesses some of the best aromatics you will find in the appéllation - billowing blackberry, cassis and boysenberry scents all beautifully defined and seamlessly integrated with the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, commendable depth and a vibrant bead of acidity that lends this Montrose tension from start to finish. The class comes through strongly in this wine, perhaps the best Saint Estèphe this year. Give this a decade in bottle, more if you can, since Montrose tends to repay cellaring. 93-95pts – Neal Martin.
The 2015 Pavie is a blend of 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon that is matured in 80% new oak and 20% one-year-old barrels. It has a really quite glorious bouquet that is sensual and very well defined and pure. In my opinion, just dialing down the new oak even by 15% is allowing more personality and more terroir-expression to filter through. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe, lace-like tannins and a fine bead of acidity. It feels caressing and sensual in the mouth with superb mineralité and purity on the vivacious and sustained finish. This is unquestionably the best wine from Gérard Perse in 2015: a great Pavie with a very long life ahead, though I would cellar it for at least a decade to witness it in full flight. 96-98pts – Neal Martin.
Chateau Angelus 2015 – Saint Emilion. £1,340 per 6 EP
One of the most striking and impactful right bank wines I tasted this year.
The 2015 Angelus is a blend of 62% Merlot and 38% Cabernet Franc, picked from 22 September finishing on 14 October. "We found a nice homogeneity with the Merlot lots," I was told when I visited. "The old Cabernet Franc was very nice, but the younger vines were blended into the second label. This year, it is especially the Merlot that lends a lot of harmony to the wine. This year, the Merlot have some of the qualities of the Cabernet Franc, the precision and freshness. They give the generosity and sweetness." The wine was aged in 100% new oak at 11 degrees Celsius so they could add less sulfur to keep the freshness of the aromas and maintain the elegance of the wine. It offers a complex array of aromas such as black cherry, camphor, oyster shells and Japanese nori, beautifully defined and very focused. The palate is medium-bodied but powerful with layer of svelte tannins and a keen thread of acidity; layers of black fruit laced with spices, baking powder, mint and white pepper. It feels long in the mouth, insistently clinging for a minute after the wine has departed. Oh là là. This is a sexy, but compelling Angelus, fit for "007" and wine-lovers everywhere. 95-97pts – Neal Martin.
All notes are quoted from Neal Martin’s reviews of the 2015 vintage published on www.erobertparker.com.