Based on preliminary reports, as well as some actual taste experience, it appears that Bordeaux is poised to release two, back-to-back exceptional vintages – 2015 and 2016. The last time this happened was 2009 and 2010.
As the 2015 wines begin to roll in, it is clear these wines are magnificent – showing characteristics of both the 2009 and 2010 vintages, Bordeaux’s best vintages of late. The wines possess the structured elegance of the 2010 wines combined with the lushness and approachability of the 2009 wines.
At this point, there have not been many 2016 wines in the retail stream to taste, largely because most château have only just wrapped up their initial future offerings. There are, however, some château that are releasing wines and what is coming to market provides evidence of the superior nature of the vintage.
It has generally been the case that as Bordeaux prices have climbed, more attention is paid to second labels, or lesser châteaux in search of greater value. This approach is especially important when faced with back-to-back exceptional vintages.
Such is the case with the 2016 Tellus Vinea Bordeaux. Tellus Vinea is a subsidiary wine made by the same team behind Château Belregard Figeac, a legitimate Grand Cru Saint-Emilion wine. The Pueyo Family has owned Belregard Figeac since 1853. With over 150 years of continuous ownership, the impact of seasons of experience with their vineyard parcels shows in the exceptional quality of their wines. This extensive knowledge of the vineyards in Saint-Emilion has allowed the Pueyo family to find great sources of grapes for their AOC Bordeaux wine Tellus Vinea. The original vineyards supplying Tellus Vinea bordered Lalande-de-Pomerol and the wine distinguished itself as a high-value “baby-Pomerol,” despite the broad Bordeaux AOC. However, after the 2011 vintage, these vineyards were no longer viable and the Pueyos needed a new source of grapes. Beginning with the 2014 vintage, the Tellus Vinea is being sourced from vineyards located on less sandy, more argilo-calcaire soils in Juillac, much further south and east from Lalande-de-Pomerol. The new vineyard source is managed organically, and all harvesting is manual. The varietal distribution on the parcel is approximately 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc and the presence of calcareous soil imbues the wine with firmer structure than pre-2014 wines.
The 2016 Tellus Vinea is a wonderful wine. Well-balanced with fresh, vibrant fruit on the nose and firm tannin on the palate, the wine exhibits great structure with a presence of smoothness and elegance. Woven amid the fruit are earthy, herbaceous notes with strong cedar on the aftertaste. The finish is somewhat short, attributable to the wine’s youth. The wine is drinking very well now and should improve over the next 5 to 7 years. At an average per bottle cost of $17 pre-discount, the wine is an insane value. Gordons in Waltham, MA had a Daily Flash offer at the beginning of March of $14 per bottle net, which further improves the value proposition.