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Fine wines of the week: Top Premium reviews

Had a busy weekend but still want to enjoy excellent wine? Here are some highlights from the wine reviews published online exclusively for Decanter Premium subscribers in the past week, from a full review of Médoc 2016 wines in the bottle to a California great that Pinot lovers shouldn't miss...

For the cellar

Decanter Premium celebrated its first birthday in style with the first part of Jane Anson’s in-depth look at the Bordeaux 2016 vintage now that most of the wines have been bottled.

We began with the Left Bank and reviews of classified estates in the Médoc, which had a particularly strong year. That is partially thanks to a long ripening season playing to the advantage of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Léoville-Las-Cases 2016 and Lafite Rothschild 2016 earned 100-point ‘perfect scores’, but high scores for second and third wines were telling; suggesting an abundance of good quality fruit. Anson praised ‘one of the best Moulin de Duhart wines I can remember’, for example.

In terms of prices, we suggest sticking to Anson’s advice of comparing the 2014, 2015 and 2016 wines as a trio. That said, on the Left Bank, the prospective longevity of the Médoc 2016s is especially promising, according to Anson. Read her full report so far.

Anson’s in-bottle report on the Right Bank is coming later this week. We’re afraid that you’ll have to wait a bit longer for Pessac, coming up in December, to know whether Médoc’s success is reflected across the Left Bank.

Over in California, Pinot fans should take a look at what Domaine de la Côte has done with its Blooms Field Pinot Noir 2015. Rated as 95 points by Ronan Sayburn MS at a recent tasting in London, this wine sailed into our collection of top scoring Pinot Noir wines.

For the dinner table

Fans of the Northern Rhône might also be interested in Sayburn’s top Sonoma red wines, in which he picked out Radio-Coteau’s Harrison Grade Syrah 2013 for special praise. It will last, but you could just as easily drink it now; a great time of year for all that warming black pepper spice paired with hearty food.

If you’re in the mood to go all-out then Simon Field MW had extremely kind words for the Krug Clos du Mesnil 2004; a name that needs little introduction to wine lovers but from a year which benefited from a strong Chardonnay vintage in the Champagne region.

As a counter-point, the upcoming December 2018 issue of Decanter magazine will highlight top Champagnes at less than £40-a-bottle – and Premium subscribers will be able to find these online over next weekend.

Looking for a great bottle of mature Bordeaux to decorate the dinner table this autumn?

You could do a lot worse than Léoville Barton 1990, priced at around £150-a-bottle and still going strong, said Jane Anson after re-tasting a host of Bordeaux 1989 and 1990 wines side-by-side.

If you’ve got a bottle of Figeac 1989 in the cellar, then you might want to consider drinking up fairly soon, while the top wine in this tasting was Cheval Blanc 1990.

Five fine wines to watch:


Playing catch-up? Read last week’s post below

Fine wines of the week: 14 to 21 October

For the dinner table…or a quiet afternoon by the fire

Jane Anson’s 21-vintage vertical tasting of La Conseillante in Pomerol threw up some fascinating results. As is so often the case, several so-called lesser vintages were found to be tasting extremely well; the 2008 being a case in point. But we’ve picked out La Conseillante 1998 below. It was a particularly good vintage in Pomerol and a ‘stunning wine’, according to Anson. A centrepiece for the Christmas or Thanksgiving table? The 2001 would also be a strong bet.

Napa Cabernet comes with a bold reputation, but Ronan Sayburn MS picked out the ‘dense and multilayered’ 2011 vintage of Joseph Phelps’ lauded Insignia wine as worthy of closer attention.

California experienced a cooler vintage in 2011 – a year since eclipsed by the heights hit in 2012 and 2013 in particular. This has produced a lighter and more refined style of Insignia ‘than one might expect’, wrote Sayburn. See more of his Napa Cabernet ratings here.

Yalumba’s new flagship The Caley is now in its second vintage of release and the wine understandably dominated attention at the launch of the Yalumba’s new top-end collection.

But we found it just as interesting to read Sarah Ahmed’s write-up of Yalumba’s brilliant Virgilius Viognier 2016, from Eden Valley. At £31 per bottle – $42 in the US – this looks like a relative bargain, too.

For the cellar

Looking for an anniversary or birth year wine? There has been a lot of noise about the Port 2016 vintage, the first widespread declaration since the vaunted 2011s – albeit several houses declared at least a portion of their crop in 2015.

Quantities in 2016 are relatively small in many cases, but our expert Richard Mayson wrote, ‘Some wines are alarmingly attractive already, but have the poise and presence to last. I will hazard more than a guess to say that many 2016s will be good to drink relatively early (perhaps from the mid-2020s) but the best have the balance to keep for decades.’

Graham’s ‘The Stone Terraces’ 2016  and Quinta do Noval Nacional 2016 topped Mayson’s list.

At the other end of the wine spectrum, Tim Atkin MW has picked out some excellent Chablis 2017 wines, although yields are constrained; some of you may remember the dramatic photos of icicle-encased vine shoots following spring frosts in that year’s growing season.

Atkin identified Domaine François Raveneau’s Les Clos Grand Cru 2017 as one of the wines of the vintage. ‘It would be a crime to drink it young,’ he wrote. You’ll have to make your own mind up about that, and you can see more Chablis 2017 top scorers here.

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