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Our 2017 view on the vintage
While 2017 may not have the professed perfection of ’15 or succulent strength of ’16, it is by all accounts a good vintage for a large proportion of Châteaux. Unlike the relatively ‘easy’ vintages of 2015 and 2016; 2017 demanded much effort in the vineyard in order to produce a grand vin of the expected quality.
It is important to note that the frosts in late April affected inland areas far worse than those closer to the river or slopes. Pauillac, St Julien and St Estephe were not affected at all. Prolonged harvests seem to have helped with less ripe fruit from the cooler summer; Mouton Rothschild saw harvest extend over four weeks.
The right bank was most severely hit, but those with good aspect and slopes managed to avoid the worst frost. Cheval Blanc lost 1/3 of their crop, specifically the instrumental old vine Cabernet Franc. The wine itself showed no ill effects displaying exemplary fruit and an intricate finesse to the concentrated mid palate.
2017 Vintage conditions
The 2017 frosts can only be compared to the devastating late frosts in 1991. Spring started promisingly with early and successful flowering. For those areas affected by frost however, the precocity of these buds made it harder for the Châteaux to manage the damage. The summer months were cooler than average with June seeing a damp, rainy start.
Autumn, despite some rainfall early in September was generous in length, allowing those hoping to use some second crop fruit a chance to let it ripen. The average daily maximum temperature in 2017 does however outstrip the same measurement for 2016; lending weight to the high scores seen on some of the 2017 wines.
Pricing will be crucial with this vintage. Members of the trade are looking for a reduction in prices of at least 20% to encourage take up of these wines, still sleeping in their oak barrels. One of the first to the post; Château Palmer released early with a decrease of 20% from the 16 vintage. Thanks to this early leap of faith there has been good early trade for this property. This reduction looks generous as more prices are released. 2017 is very much a tasting vintage.
There are surprises and disappointments. We’ve listed some highlights, omitting the obvious ones such as Mouton that could do no wrong this year. Our notes on recommended wines and a longer version of the report can be found on the Tindal blog here. 2017 is a vintage with a crunchy freshness to the wines showing great vivacity and life. Though not as fragrant and open as the 16’s or as succulent and powerful as the 15’s, this vintage has some real stars, ones that are certain to give great pleasure for mid to long-term drinking.
Pavie Macquin – Opulent fruit on the nose, silken tannins, viscosity lends weight to silky ethereal finish.
Troplong Mondot – Distinct raspberry direction on nose, velvet palate with damson and spice.
Figeac – With only 10% Cabernet Franc an unusual vintage. Delightful succulence on the herbal edged fruit. Focussed, supple, not frost slain!
Rouget – Wonderful nose with cassis & prune hints. Precise taut palate, immaculate tannins.
Marquis de Terme – Ethereal, perfumed exotic black fruit nose. Superb lift with succulent finish.
Prieure-Lichine – Spiced blackcurrant generosity on nose. Poised & elegant, lovely fruit expression.
Leoville-Barton – Smokey tobacco brooding nose. Chocolate tinted dense integrated palate. Impressive.
Grand-Puy-Lacoste – Very dark nose stands strong behind perfumed nuances. Firm mid palate
grip compact berried depth, complex.
Lynch-Bages – Nailed it this year. elegant restraint on the nose. Dense palate with lively fruit and taut
Pichon Baron – A quiet nose leading to piquant black fruit notes, sweet, feminine. Great palate expression, seamless tannins. Sleeping beauty.
Pontet Canet – Deep purple core hinting at the intensity of flavour to come. Spicy dark graphite tones lead to liquorice, cassis perfection on the finish. Divinely open, silky.
Our spotlight wines
Montrose – A wonderfully put together wine. Peppered dark fruit lend weight to wave of complexity on palate. Herbal tendencies. Compact, long and evolutionary.
Calon Ségur – Extravagant chocolate spiced blackberry nose. Great weight on palate with angular tannic grip supporting the opulent ripe finish.