NEAL MARTIN & 'THE WINE ADVOCATES' : 2015 En Primeur Review

May 19th, 2016 @ 04:37pm Jonathan Maltus En Primeur 2015, EnPrimeur, NealMartin, TheWineAdvocate

I suspect that some have presumed that all those wines that Robert Parker appreciates such as Pavie, Valandraud and Le Dôme are now "out" according to my palate. I suggest you read my scores and notes before typing a letter of complaint.

At Château Teyssier I visited Jonathan Maltus. During my Bordeaux trip I chanced upon one of my old Japanese clients who reminded me that I advised her to buy his debut 1996 Le Dôme when it was released. So I've been here from the beginning really. This was another winemaker impressing upon me their change in approach, backing away from some of the over-egged wines of the past, wines that sometimes did not age as well as they promised. His 2015s were toned down for sure, the tannin finer and the individualities of the single parcel crus more expressive at this early stage.

"Two thousand and fifteen is a nice vintage," he opined. "We did a few things that were different. We stopped putting SO2 on before fermentation [à la Barde-Haut]. We did a longer cuvaison than normal, around five weeks with cool temperatures (26-28 degrees) and gentle, cap wetting every two to three days, which helped with the tannin and mouth-feel of the mid palate. The Le Dôme I think has phenomenal length. It is probably one of the best we have done." It was a strong set of wines from Jonathan.


LE DOME, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 94-96

The 2015 Le Dôme is a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot picked on October 2 and 6. It has a clean and precise bouquet, tightly wound at first, gently warming up, developing more delineation and focus. This might be a more understated Le Dôme compared to recent years, but you might argue more sophisticated. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive density, a vein of dark chocolate on the entry that is rapidly overtaken by layers of lightly spiced black fruit. The finish is tightly wound at the moment, but it will open by the time of bottling. What I like here is the fineness of the tannin, something not always exuded by Maltus' top cuvée. It simply expresses the joys of Cabernet Franc and it should age nicely over the next 5-20 years. Drink 2021-2045.


LE PONTET, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 93-95

The maiden 2015 Le Pontet was hitherto blended into Laforge. "It is the only block on the côte that we didn't have as a single vineyard," Jonathan Maltus told me. "We had wanted to do it for a while." A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, and matured in 80% new oak, it has a bright, well-defined bouquet with blackberry and bilberry fruit, demonstrating more precision than the 2015 Le Carré at this stage. The palate is medium-bodied with silky smooth tannin, very well-balanced with touches of blueberry and black cherry, fine delineation towards the finish that lingers long in the mouth. I think Maltus was correct: 2015 was the perfect way to introduce Le Pontet - this is splendid. Drink 2019-35.


LES ASTERIES, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 92-94

The 2015 Les Asteries is a blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc picked on October 2 and 13, then matured in 80% new oak. This has an opulent bouquet with cocoa-tinged black fruit, blueberry and a dab of cassis. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly chewy tannin, perhaps not quite as precise as the 2015 Le Pontet, though there is satisfying substance and backbone on the finish, with the Cabernet Franc expressive and imparting a subtle peppery vein. Give this 3-4 years in bottle and then drink over 12-15 years. Drink 2019-32.


VIEUX CHATEAU MAZERAT, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 91-93

The 2015 Vieux Château Mazerat, which you could view as Jonathan Maltus' "second in command" after Le Dôme, is a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc picked on October 6 and 12 respectively, and matured in 80% new oak. It has a tightly wound bouquet with black cherry, bilberry and cold stone, a floral note emerging after a minute in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied but there is more fatness and density here compared to Jonathan's other 2015 single parcel offerings from Le Pontet and Le Carré. Plenty of "rondeur" here, perhaps because the pH is just a little higher, the finish well balanced, clean and fresh. I look forward to retasting this in bottle. Drink 2019-35.


LE CARRE, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 90-92

The 2015 Le Carre, which was once part of Château Curé-Bon, is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc that matured in 80% new French oak (the other part of Curé-Bon now forms Croix Canon). The fruit was picked on October 2 and 13 respectively. It offers dark plum and raspberry preserve scents, the oak nicely integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly chewy tannin at the moment. A slightly more muscular Le Carré, but with plenty of black fruit towards the sappy finish. This will meld together throughout its élevage and should age well over 8-15 years. Drink 2019-35.


CHATEAU LAFORGE, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 90-92

A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc from the three terroirs of Saint Emilion, the 2015 Laforge was picked between 21 September and 13 October. It has a sensual purity on the nose; small dark cherries, cassis and violet aromas wafting from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, moderate depth, quite precise with a silky smooth finish that will leave you wanting to take another sip. Nice one, Mr. Maltus. Drink 2018-30.


CHATEAU TEYSSIER, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2015

POINTS : 90-92

The 2015 Teyssier is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc picked from 21 September until 8 October, the Cabernet picked from 9-15 October. Matured in 20% new oak, it has a sweet red cherry and blueberry scented bouquet that is lifted nicely by the new oak. The palate is medium-bodied with sweet red and black fruit on the entry. There is a pastille-like purity here, nicely balanced with a smooth and seductive finish. You can really see the wide commercial appeal of this well-crafted Saint Emilion. It will drink earlier than others, but should give ten years of drinking pleasure. Drink 2018-26.

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