2016 Chateau Beychevelle, Grand Vin, Saint-Julien, Red Bordeaux, France.
All those rumors you heard about the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux, quiet comparisons to the legendary years, you know what I mean, well, yeah, they are pretty much true, this is a vintage to buy and stock up on. I recently tried this Beychelle, and while not cheap (if not purchased on futures), it is a stunning wine, maybe one of the best young versions I’ve had experience with from this historic property in the Medoc, even better is, like 1990 and somewhat like 2005 and 2009 for sure, it can actually be enjoyed rather young, while still incredibly age worthy, that said, patience will be rewarded. Chateau Beychelle, a fourth grown from the classification of 1855, has traditionally been a solid performer with a legacy of value on offer, though rarely has it reached quality exceeding its expectations, but I must say in recent vintages I’ve been very impressed and like their neighbor Léoville-Poyferré, a Super Second (Growth) are producing some thrilling stuff, especially this 2016 Grand Vin, the top wine from the estate. The 2016 is richly packed with fruit and is extremely deep in color, very purple/back and garnet in the glass and the nose is full of violets, cassis, graphite and sweet toast, which all leads to a palate that echos those first sensations and adds blackberry, plum, black cherry and mulberry fruits, a touch of loaminess, cedar and anise as well as touch of pipe tobacco and vanilla. This is full throttle, full bodied Bordeaux with a veil of opulence that hides the powerful structural tannins well still, and excitingly there is a nice burst of juicy acidity keeping things from getting over the top, everything looks set for a gorgeous long lived wine.
Chateau Beychelle, like many Medoc estates are grateful for the Dutch engineers that literary drained the swamp and created one of the best terroirs in France and the story of it’s label is very interesting. At the beginning of the 17th century, according to the Chateau and local historians, The first Duke of Épernon owned the property, a renown sailor and naval commander, who became great French admiral and such was his reputation that as boats passed in front of his estate, they would lower their sails to show their allegiance and respect. This honor in the end gave rise to the Château’s emblem, the ship with a griffon-shaped prow, its name in Gascon dialect, Bêcha vêla, meaning “baisse voile” (“lower the sails”), which later became Beychevelle. For the 2016 vintage, the final blend of the Grand Vin was Cabernet Sauvignon 47%, Merlot 47%, Cabernet Franc 1% and Petit Verdot 5%, which accounts for the mix of power and lush mouthfeel, and it was raised in 50% new wood. This vintage was the first using new technical facilities at Beychelle, with the best in equipment and a much better working layout to, as the winery suggests, enable a gentle transfer of the grapes by gravity, very precise temperature controlled stainless fermentors, and extractions adjusted to the characteristics of each vat, along with better vineyard practices and a focus on the best individual parcels. The investment here is paying off and this wine is fantastic, it shows off the heart of Beychelle’s vineyards, which are located on two plateaus set on deep Garonne gravels, which the Cabernet loves, over loam and clay that over looks the Gironde River. When you think of all the wines now that go for over $175, especially from Napa, this wine, even at full release price looks pretty reasonable and I bet it will go 25 to 30 years.
($150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive