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More great Bordeaux reds

On January 29 I wrote of the vintage chart for Bordeaux, an area where the Romans found vines growing when they arrived some 2,000 years ago.

I then said how between 1959 and 2016 there were only two years that rated 99/100: 2000 and 2016.

“2005 and 2009 garnered 98/100,” I wrote. “We have just landed a few of the stunning 2016s – a year where some properties made the best wines in their history.”

Now I would like to tell you about a few more of these that we have in our cellar.

I lead with the second wine of a “Super Second”. Let me explain. In 1855, 15 properties were rated second, just behind four “First Growths”.

Now, 165 years later, a handful in this second tier have risen to the point where they are considered to challenge the overall leaders. Two of these Super Seconds are the “his and her” Chateau Longueville Baron and Pichon Comtesse de Lalande. These neighbouring vineyards are the result of an ancient family disagreement and so one became two. Let us find out about 2016 Reserve de la Comtesse from Pauillac.

It is hard to believe that this second wine can glean 96-98/100 from Wine Enthusiast magazine that writes: “Dense tannins and dark fruits are just a part of this wine's complex character. It is ripe, full of blackberries, yet solid, with a structure that balances the fruit. It should age extremely well; be ready be prepared to hold this for 15 years or more.”

Another review, this one from Vinous, states: “The 2016 Réserve de la Comtesse is a serious second wine. Dark, ample and voluptuous, the Comtesse will give readers a very good idea of the style and quality of the vintage, namely the interplay of fruit, aromatic freshness and tannins that makes this vintage so compelling. Inky dark and purplish fruit, chocolate, liquorice and lavender are some of the notes that infuse the huge finish. Silky, polished tannins add to the wine's considerable appeal. Don't miss it.” These reviews may be easier to understand if I share with you that Pichon Comtesse itself received a perfect 100 points from reviewers. 2016 Reserve de la Comtesse sells for $88 (Stock #7778).

The 61 chosen wines of 1855 were placed into five groups and one of the ten rated Fourth Growths was Chateau Branaire-Ducru in the commune of St-Julien. Wine Spectator gives their 2016 96 points and comments: “The core of this red is loaded with pure plum, blueberry and black currant fruit flavours. The polished structure is integrated, with alluring ganache, anise and sweet tobacco notes throughout, all in a polished and balanced frame. A very classy red that isn't shy about its power but pushes its purity to the fore. Best from 2024 through 2039.”

James Suckling is just behind with 95/100 and describes 2016 as “the best vintage of this wine since 2009”.

“Effusive, fresh redcurrant and cassis aromas give this St-Julien terrific drive and energy, the elegant, dry tannins beautifully married to the medium body, right through the long, agile finish. Drink or hold.” $129 (Stock #7780).

The second wine of Chateau Cos d’Estournel in St-Estephe, a Second Growth of 1855, is Les Pagodas de Cos and James Suckling says of the 2016: “A red with very deep and intense fruit character, yet rich tannins to back it all up. Full-bodied, layered and powerful. The second wine of Cos d’Estournel is serious again in 2016. Try from 2025. 94/100.”

Jeb Dunnuck comments: “The second wine of the estate is no slouch. The 2016 Pagodas de Cos has some grand vin character in its cassis and graphite aromas and flavours. Showing more incense, graphite, and hints of flowers with airtime, this medium to full-bodied, rounded, beautifully textured effort is well worth a case purchase. Drink this beauty, the equal to most estates’ top wines, while you wait on the grand vin to come around.” $95 (Stock #9627).

For many years Chateau Angludet from Margaux has been our best seller from this area and of course their 2016 is a very fine example. I fondly recall a dinner party there when the Sichel family, also involved with the great Chateau Palmer, opened two jeroboams of the latter from the classic 1982 vintage. We were told that they had been given to the couple who had cared for their properties for many years and upon selling them back to the family they could, and did, retire in fine fashion. Palmer is referred to as, “the most expensive Third Growth, but the least expensive First Growth”. This is because, this now biodynamically farmed property, has risen to the very top today.

Berry Bros and Rudd on their site comment: “This is one of the best Angludets we have tasted in recent years. It possesses lovely, sweet, cool fruit on the nose with a hint of spice. It has a suave, ribbonlike texture with red fruit and violets coming through. It dances across the palate with an elegant, almost Burgundian finesse.” $98 (Stock #9643).

I know that, on first thought, there are those of us that would not pay some of these prices for a bottle of wine, and so I would just like to change course and share what I experienced at dinner on Valentine’s Day. I showed a bottle of 2012 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, to my wife and told her that it cost $2.45 more than the advertised green fees at Port Royal Golf Course – seemed reasonable when I would also have to consider that a cart needs to be rented and, in my case, that pricey golf balls do not float!

We opened it and slowly sipped it as we also enjoyed tenderloin beef steaks and fresh Bermuda vegetables. It is my belief that this experience is now locked into my memory for all time. I am astounded by its multilayered sheer perfection. It exhibited a depth of flavour and exquisite balance that gives me joy just to think about it over and over again. Once in a while such a special treat is worthwhile. Parker calls this wine “quintessential Napa Cabernet with terrific purity”. $182.45 (Stock #6306).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit

Michael Robinson shared a bottle of 2012 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with his wife on Valentine’s Day

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Published February 19, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 17, 2021 at 8:30 pm)

More great Bordeaux reds

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