L'Assemblage Blog

The 2017 Bordeaux Vintage – Classic, refined and ‘terroir’ driven

Posted on 24/04/18, filed under Bordeaux, Wine Tasting | No Comments

Châteaux owners and their managers informed us that crop levels were reduced by 30-100% in some areas, mainly on the right bank, Entre-deux-mers and the Graves. Here some vineyards suffered from late Spring frosts and others were hit with hail during harvest, including Châteaux Climens, Haut Bergey and Fieuzal, who made no wine at all. However, this is not like the 1991 or 1956 vintages when the frost damage was widespread. There are many success stories as well.

The better performers were clearly those who sorted their harvests with a rigorous selection of ripe berries followed by careful winemaking practices, such as gentle macerations, tannin management and judicious use of oak. There was no room for error in this terroir driven vintage. The best red wines have a transparency akin to the 2008 and 2014's. They display deep colours, ripe phenolics, high acidities and comparatively lower alcohols than in recent years (12.5-12.7% for the reds and 12-13% for the whites).

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines in the northern Médoc were largely unscathed, especially from great terroirs on the banks of the Garonne. Most achieved normal 37-45 hl/ha yields. There were several shining examples from Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux and St Estephe. Some sites in the Péssac that escaped frost and hail also made some very fine wines. On the right bank, the most notable successes came from the Pomerol plateau where the Merlots were hardly affected. 

The best dry white wines tend to have fresh, intense citrus aromas and fleshy fruit from Sauvignon, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes picked in late August, just before the September rains. This was a superb vintage for Sauternes with reasonable yields from botrytised bunches picked late into October. The best are full bodied with layers of opulent fruit and balanced acidities. 

To be a successful ‘en primeur’ campaign, the release prices need to be realistic to justify any investment.  We hope that those with depleted yields won't be raising prices to cover their losses. Others with normal yields from great terroirs have, in most instances, produced well made wines with even a few achieving the finesse and depth of their 2015 and 2016s.

The 2017 vintage will go down in history as a fine vintage to be consumed over the mid-term. The best are not the biggest wines but classically structured, medium bodied with moderate alcohols, subtle fresh fruit behind their terroir expressions, high acidities and textured ripe tannins. 

There are many exciting wines to offer that will be worth buying and others that won’t meet our high standards. Our favourites will be offered on release, complete with notes and scores.


Burgundy 2016 – In Pictures

Posted on 22/03/18, filed under Burgundy, News | No Comments

Chateau de Chamirey

Our first stop, Château de Chamirey in Mercurey

Antonio Quari at Prieure-Roch

In the cellars at Domaine Prieuré-Roch with Cellarman Antonio Quari

Yann Durieux

Visiting the vineyards with Yann Durieux

Philippe Pacalet

Tasting 2017s from barrel at Maison Philippe Pacalet


Tasting 2017 Grand Cru in the cellars at Remoissenet

Guillaume Boillot

Guillaume Boillot (Henri's son) discusses his 2016s at Domaine Henri Boillot

Cellar at Bruno Colin

The cellar at Domaine Bruno Colin in Chassagne-Montrachet

Domaine Romanée-Conti 2015 “We see this sort of vintage two or three times a century… Very special” Aubert de Villaine

Posted on 09/02/18, filed under Burgundy, Wine Tasting | No Comments


The 2015 vintage will go down as one of the ‘easiest’ vintages of the century, when nature plays a major role in wine quality. A damp but generally mild winter was followed by a warm, dry Spring and hot Summer. Early flowering continued by warm temperatures and moderate northerly winds, ensured even fruit ripeness. Long fermentations of whole bunch clusters produced rich, concentrated wines.

These rank as some of the finest made to date by the Domaine, as expressed in my recent notes from the bottles sampled:-

Corton 2015

Deep ruby colour, intense aromas of dark fruits, including plum and cranberries intermixed with dried herbs. The fruit is ripe, opulent with graceful fine tannins and a mineral spine. This classic Corton is powerful though light on its feet with a long cool finish. Outstanding purity and balance. 94+/100

Echézeaux 2015

Deep garnet colour, intense fruits of blueberry, wild strawberry and a spicy, earthy note. Full bodied on the palate, fine textured tannins balanced with polished fruit and vibrant acidity. Compact, dry finish. Classic but needs some time to evolve. Best from 2022 -2032. 95/100.

Grands Echézeaux 2015

Deep ruby with reserved nose of dark fruits and saline mineral nuances. Dense, gutsy full bodied style with brooding ripe tannins lurking beneath berry fruits with basalmic notes. Real depth and persistance on the finish. Best drink 2025 – 2036. 96/100.

Romanée-St- Vivant 2015

Ruby colour with subtle fragrant red and black fruits, rose petal and spice nuances. Medium full chewy fruit, somewhat sauvage yet beautifully pure. There is a slight savoury, saline, earthy note with fine tannins. Long, graceful finish. Classic, delineated composition. Best 2023-2036+. 96/100

Richebourg 2015

Deep red hues. Fresh aromas of ripe raspberry, plum with vanilla and spice nuances. Full bodied, opulent sweet ripe fruit with silky fine tannins. There is a fleshy multi-layered quality with beautiful balance and a cool long finish. This is utterly breathtaking in its sheer depth. Drink from 2027-2037+. 96-98/100

La Tâche 2015

Lush, intense, sweet berry fruit with earth and tea tinged nuances. On the palate this is a rich profound wine with layers of dark, dense fruit and spice notes. This voluptuous La Tâche seems so refined, cool and composed. This finish Is long, pure and silky. Drink from 2028 to 2038+. 97-99/100

Romanée-Conti 2015

Deep mauve to ruby with aromas of raspberry, light floral and spice nuances. The palate is full yet compact, with layers of old vine fruits and a mineral drive that fades so gradually on the persistent finish. All the components are finely balanced; the cool fruit, silky tannins, gentle acidity, spice, alcohol and minerality. This is simply sensational and almost ethereal. Best from 2033+. 99+/100

Tasted by Guy Willings, January 22nd 2018.